Most recently, Marta Pyvovarenko, an advocacy specialist at the Community Self-Help NGO, had an informal meeting with John W. Boerstler, Chief Veterans Affairs Officer (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C. ). The letter to the U.S. government written by Oleksandr Porkhun, First Deputy Minister for Veterans Affairs of Ukraine, was the result of this meeting. It is thanks to systematic advocacy work that such results become possible.
Often the term "advocacy" is perceived and associated with completely different processes than it is. Advocacy is such a delicate process that cannot be done quickly or in a hurry. The very term "advocacy" has a Latin origin, from the word "advocare", which means directly "a call for support". The essence of advocacy is to raise and solve important social problems through cooperation and influence on public opinion and national policy to achieve positive changes in society. And of course, a person engaged in advocacy should have several characteristics, such as a deep understanding of the essence of the problem, strategic thinking, the ability to draw attention to the problem, and the ability to communicate effectively and express their thoughts and arguments clearly and convincingly. Also, resilience and endurance as personal characteristics, as advocacy processes can be long and require resilience in the face of challenges and difficulties. Collaboration with different stakeholders and the ability to build partnerships is key.
Such systematic advocacy work had begun long before this particular meeting. When Ukraine was changing its Veterans Affairs Strategy in 2020, Marta Pyvovarenko facilitated a working group on the Ukrainian side at a 4-day working meeting involving senior leadership from the US and Ukrainian Ministries of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The meeting focused on integrated programs that have already shown their effectiveness in the United States, tools for preventing suicide among military and veterans, mental health, and transition programs (more about the meeting on the website of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs)
The search for solutions, delicate, painstaking, long-term work, and constant training in diplomacy are real advocacy. Thus, the work of Marta Pyvovarenko and the Community Self-Help NGO is essentially an international advocacy for Ukraine. It is a systematic activity aimed at representing and protecting the interests of Ukrainian defenders and their families at the international level. Marta Pyvovarenko and the Community Self-Help NGO always use their "voice" and their capabilities to draw the attention of the international community to the problems and needs of this group of people. Through meetings and cooperation with representatives of other countries, including John W. Boerstler from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, international partnerships are being established. Initiatives aimed at solving the problems of Ukrainian defenders require significant resources, and attracting the attention of international partners helps to attract financial support, technical assistance, and other resources for the implementation of projects and programs.
The activity of NGO Community Self-Help with ISAR Ednannia support within the USAID Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity.