Sergii Kostin

Organization: 
Way Home
Year founded: 
1996
Country: 
Ukraine

The Way Home provides medical and psychological rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes to homeless people, street children and drug users living on the streets in Ukraine.

Focus: HIV/AIDS, Homelessness and Street Children
Geographic Area of Impact: Ukraine
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 25,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 1,345,000 (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 22%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Ukraine, 2002

Background
Decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union the faltering economies of former socialist countries, such as Ukraine, have given rise to a significant population of homeless and unemployed people. There are, for example, an estimated 11,000 homeless people in Odessa, several hundred of which are street kids. Social services that were once provided under the communist system have eroded as state coffers have dwindled. The only shelter existing in this Ukrainian port city was designed for only 100 men, with no shelters at all for women. Many of Ukraine’s homeless are unaware that there are a number of institutions that can offer help; the Way Home is one of them.

Innovation and Activities
The Way Home is a Ukrainian organization catering to Odessa’s homeless population, particularly street children. It focuses on preventing children from ending up in the streets in the first place, and helps rehabilitate those already there. The Way Home provides a wide array of services, applying innovative outreach strategies to reintegrate individuals into the wider community. Since its inception, the Way Home has helped thousands of people across Ukraine.

The Way Home ensures that the basic needs of its clients are met, such as possession of official documents, adequate housing, opportunities for training and employment, and management of personal life issues.

It has set up transition homes for those individuals involved in its vocational training workshops, and its clothing production workshops have established a market brand already generating revenue. The Children’s Centre provides a safety net for approximately 600 street children, most of whom come regularly for food and counselling. The AIDS Prevention Centre addresses the risk posed by intravenous drug use and prostitution, through its needle exchange programme and street outreach activities for sex workers.

Because of the frequent political and legal roadblocks set up by government authorities, the Way Home has turned to the media to educate an apathetic public about the growing problem and alert the general population that they too, could one day find themselves victims of job loss or even homelessness.

The Entrepreneur
Sergey Kostin is a geologist by training. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he committed himself to assisting the most disadvantaged people of Ukraine. To garner support for his projects, he set up a series of small workshops to teach carpentry, sewing and icon painting. As a result of this work he has rescued many of the exponentially growing numbers of homeless people, prostitutes, street children and drug addicts that roamed the Odessa streets. Kostin began the Way Home by first offering a series of workshops, seeking to build the skill base of those who had fallen on hard times. However he soon discovered that the socially disenfranchised needed more than food, shelter and workshops. Thus, the Way Home rapidly expanded its programmes and geographic scope to address the growing needs across the Ukraine. Kostin was nominated European Hero of the Year by TIME magazine in 2003, and was a Chrystal of Hope awardee in Vienna’s Life Ball in 2010.