"Society can overcome and treat its illness, if it wants to, of course."
An interview with Dmytro MASON, head pastor of the Union of Evangelical Churches of Ukraine and leader of the all-Ukraine civic organization Influence of Light
Correspondent: There have been many unsuccessful attempts of society to prove its tolerance. Incidentally, you even start to believe that everyone on this earth has his own mission and that nobody can it do it for you. Today there are more than enough of those who like to talk about their patriotic feelings towards the homeland and love for their neighbors. However, not everybody can do something in reality, sacrifice his/her labor, or patience “for free.” People were always like this and today they remain the same.
- Pastor Mason, when the world is ruled by money and ambitions and society is ill, it is not possible to do “more than you can do.” Where do you get the energy not to get frustrated?
- Pastor Dymtro Mason: Society can overcome and treat its illness, if it wants to, of course. The words of ancient healers, “The person carries a doctor in him/herself, it is only necessary to help him/her,” make some sense. Sorry for the banal remark, but “Our health is in our hands,” and the health of society depends on the worldview of every person. There have always been many generous, sympathetic, tender, and unselfish people in Ukraine. Kyivan Prince Volodymyr Monomakh taught: “Do not forget about the poor. Feed them if you can. Give to the orphan and protect the widow. Do not let powerful people destroy a person.”
Civic activity was always high among Ukrainian villagers, as this was necessary. Fellow-villagers always helped ill people, widows, soldiers’ wives, and those whose houses had burned down. They took part in toloka [clean-up campaigns]. They rebuilt voluntarily and without reward. Being involved in such activities, society wanted to establish such values as honesty, reliability, and unselfishness.
- What does your civic organization do today?
- Together with the international charity organization View, we are preparing for the festival “Towards the Dream,” for orphans or children whose parents do not take care of them. It will take place on 24-26 May in Kerch. The all-Ukraine action “Be Baptized” will start as a part of this festival. This action is supported by the government and acknowledged as one of the ways of overcoming the problem of social orphanhood in Ukraine.
Our all-Ukraine civic organization Influence of Light is comparatively young yet, but hundreds of people are already involved in it. We organized a few charity concerts and support lonely and old people. We will try to do this regularly. Volunteers from our organization conduct meetings in schools in order to prevent students from being alcoholics, smokers, or drug addicts. They talk about AIDS and help students to develop a healthy life style. In rehabilitation centers, volunteers work with alcoholics and drug addicts and their relatives. Those who have depression and do not have hope in life get psychological support from us. This is very important, because whenever a person is in a dark room, he/she unconsciously looks for an exit, for a ray of light, and hope for a better future. In such crisis situations, it is necessary to have somebody who can help you who is next to you.
- How can you be contacted?
- Our Kyiv phone numbers are 8(044)539-10-66 and 8(044)248-92-39. Our e-mail is [email protected] We welcome all interested, those who care about the lives and destinies of people and who wish to help people in need, to work with us. Any good deed starts with the first little step.
Oleksandr KOZLOVSKYI (UKRINFORM) conducted the interview in Kyiv on 17 May 2007.