Babushka, St Michael’s Monastery


It is not unusual in Kiev to see Babushka’s begging for money on the street. Kiev has been struggling economically since the revolution of 2014 and does not offer the social welfare programmes that are available in many Western European countries.

If these women do not have family to support them, they are often forced to beg for money on the streets. They sit very quietly and are not intrusive so begging feels an inappropriate word, really. This woman sat outside St Michael’s Monastery every day and she was so quiet and so still, she almost formed part of the tableau on the exterior of the monastery.

Each time we passed her, we put some Hryvnia (Ukrainian money) in her cup and each time she gave us the warmest smile and made a sign of the cross. It was a small interaction but it affected me each time. Life can be so difficult for so many people but hopefully we helped in some small way.