The news headlines and footage pouring in from the Ukraine are incredibly tragic. “Pregnant woman & her baby injured in Mariupol maternity hospital bombing have died, AP reports,” “Strike hits facility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities near Kyiv, says regional council,” and many such headlines, like these from CNN, stream to American homes, spaced by minutes, not hours. Many of us around the globe watch, horrified, asking, What can I do?
In the face of this devastating war, more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled their country, arriving as war refugees in several neighboring nations. Some arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Although it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate relief organizations, we are bringing you four we feel confident are truly supporting Ukrainians in need.
ROCMaidan: ROCMaidan is a Rochester-based community organization that delivers medical supplies and equipment, arranges humanitarian aid, and supplies injured Ukrainians with medical support. Group members recognize that Ukrainians have faced conflict for some time, have been supporting them for several years, and are continuing to send supplies to many Ukrainian hospitals. Formed to support democratic Ukrainian voices in 2014’s EuroMaidan, ROCMaidan’s divers professionals “provide information, advocacy, connection and communication with federal, state, and local officials, information sharing with media and educational institutions, and the general public.”
Global Empowerment Mission: With its teams on site in Medyka, Poland, Global Empowerment Mission (GEM) is at the Ukrainian boarder in one of the countries currently receiving thousands of Ukrainian war refugees. Established in 2011 as a nonprofit first responder organization assisting with global disasters, GEM quickly found itself sending support to crises in 28 countries and all 50 U.S. States as well as U.S. Territories. “In 2017, GEM began operating Bethenny Frankel’s #BStrong initiative, which fills this need by supplying unrestricted cash card distributions allowing beneficiaries to meet their individual needs.”
According to its website, GEM was almost immediately active along the Ukrainian border. GEM arrived “along the Ukrainian-Polish border within 2 days of the start of the crisis.” Its plan includes the following:
• Aid into Ukraine: Since the cities under siege are running low on supplies, your donation is importing and purchasing food, water, basic necessities, medicine and medical equipment needed in a war zone. These are handed off to our Polish partner who delivers the aid to cities like Kiev.
• Relocation assistance: Since the border cities are inundated with refugees, we are rapidly identifying people who have friends and family within the EU that can house and support them…[providing] transportation, lodging and airfare to the destination of their loved ones. Also, we are helping refugees out of tents and into warm homes of Polish families through our connection with the Polish churches.
• Stability housing: With our Polish partners…renting additional housing facilities to refugees who are unable to find temporary housing through Polish families…[providing] We are housing, food and transportation.
• Non-Ukrainian refugees: We have identified a special class of refugees where the needs are much more complicated due to visa situations and language barriers…[providing] a service that other NGOs may not currently provide.
• Expansion into Hungary & Romania: …Scaling outside of Poland to partners in two other Ukrainian border countries to provide aid.
With respective warehouses in Poland and Hungary, millions of dollars in supplies on the way, millions more in aid, hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, and more, GEM encourages everyone to join them in supporting the men, women, and children desperately fleeing Ukraine.
Ukrainian Red Cross Society: For over 100 years, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) has faithfully served the people of Ukraine and beyond, sending over 100,000 of its nurses to the front during World War II. Now, in the face of Russia’s ongoing invasion, they are performing continuous disaster relief due to explosions, fires, and the many other ravages of war. This relief includes “coordinating the reception of humanitarian aid from abroad and its further distribution, working at border crossing points with refugees, providing first aid, providing food at the railway station to people who have been forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict and assisting them in resettlement, delivering humanitarian aid to bomb shelters, medical institutions, places of temporary stay, and more.
Sava’s Safe Haven: Something that can sometimes almost be forgotten in the midst of Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis is the effect this upheaval would necessarily have on Ukrainian family’s beloved pets. For many, it is as unthinkable to leave their furry family members behind as it would be for many of us. This week, in our Paw’s Corner feature, Sam Mazzotta encourages a reader worried to review an article on Euronews.green entitled, “The countries and organisations helping Ukraine’s pet refugees find a safe haven.” This article sites a Romanian group called Sava’s Safe Haven, stating that the group helps refugees working to bring their pets into Romania with them. Also, Sava’s Safe Haven takes pets from single men ages 18-30 who are currently forbidden to leave Ukraine which is under martial law. As Mazzotta wisely encouraged, check out a registered charity before sending it money; visit www.charitynavigator.org to search by name.