The First Lady of the country is not just the President’s wife. This is a responsible post and hard work. Our legislation does not provide for their responsibilities. However, according to the tradition, these are the First Ladies who care for the downtrodden, who need help and attention most of all. In this case, the Ukrainian wives of the Presidents are not far behind their foreign colleges.
Became the First Lady of independent Ukraine at the time when charity had not yet managed to put down too deep roots. However, that was she, who prepared Ukraine for the fact that the First Lady has to accompany the President of an independent state. University lecturer, Candidate of Science in Economics, Ms. Antonina joined the creation of a well-known project in the educational field. It was for her active assistance that the “Personnel” publishing house was launched at one of the very first non-state educational institutions — the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (IAPM), and it was thanks to her that the Academy became almost the only higher educational institution in our country, where students had textbooks on almost all disciplines. They were published directly in the Academy itself.
If charity in the early 1990s had not yet become a trend for the domestic political elite, then the situation was already quite different in the second half of the 1990s. Liudmyla Kuchma, the wife of the second President, was actively involved in charitable projects. Only one list of those positions in various organizations headed by Ms. Liudmyla cannot but amaze, because the First Lady of our state in 1994–2004 was also the honorary President of the Mother and Child Foundation, the Head of the Board of Trustees of the Hope and Kindness Fund, supported the Paralympic Team of Ukraine. She was UNESCO Special Envoy for Advancement of Young Talents. Despite the ambiguous attitude towards Leonid Kuchma and his close circle, we must admit that Ms. Liudmyla’s charitable activity did not cause any negative resonance.
The wife of Victor Yushchenko, at that time the most pro-Western Ukrainian state leader, was born in the USA. Not surprisingly, she was actively involved in various charitable projects. Even the worst critics did not question her contribution to the Holodomor Museum. Also, it should not be forgotten that it was Kateryna Yushchenko who initiated a financial help to mothers of many children. At least, her “Ukraine 3000” Charitable Fund still works, providing assistance to families with many children and the children who are seriously ill. In an interview with the domestic media, Kateryna Yushchenko mentioned:
“… we continue those programs and directions that we have identifi ed for ourselves — child medicine, education, culture. We have a large Ukrainian program of helping children’s medical institutions “From Hospital to Hospital”. The Fund, together with partners, has donated a large amount of modern medical equipment to children’s hospitals for an overall amount of more than 50 million dollars. More than 120 children’s doctors from all over Ukraine have undertaken an internship in leading American and European clinics, and for children’s hospitals we have found reliable partners abroad to exchange experience, cooperate and communicate”.
The wife of the present Ukrainian leader, Maryna Poroshenko, a cardiologist and a Candidate of Medical Science, a daughter of the Deputy Minister of Health of the Ukrainian SSR, of course, could not but be engaged in charity, especially in the medical field. Repeatedly, mass media reported on measures for children with special needs conducted by the First Lady within the framework of Petro Poroshenko’s charity fund activity. Also, Ms. Maryna initiated numerous actions to help children with cancer. However, the most well-known charitable action of Maryna Poroshenko’s was not an action directly related to medicine. In 2016 the story about the disabled Roman Kysliak from Lviv was made known. The man with cerebral palsy was banished from one of the Lviv restaurants. Maryna Poroshenko intervened on behalf of him.
“… I fully support the wave of indignation of the Ukrainians regarding the situation, which happened to the patient with cerebral palsy, Roman Kysliak. I am firmly convinced that a similar act towards a person with a disability is at least outrageous”.
Then the First Lady invited Roman Kysliak to coffee. She was supported by many people. In that way the First Lady was aimed at attracting more public attention to the problems of people with special needs.
As we can see, the connection of Ukrainian presidents’ wives with charity has quite an interesting story. We hope that our First Ladies will implement their human virtues in helping those, who need it. And the charity of the country’s leadership will become a long and good tradition in the renewed European Ukraine.