Russia’s invasion and bombing campaign has sparked outrage across the world, with many in the UK asking how they can help the people of Ukraine.
Here, the Torbay Multicultural Network has this message from Bruno, thinking in particular about the emerging refugee crisis and what we can all do to help as he tells us about ‘feelings of solidarity’ even in these terrible times.
‘On the 24th February we all woke up to the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine.
As I am sure you all are, I am horrified by the situation. My heart goes out to all the civilians caught up in a crisis and how they must be feeling right now makes me extremely sad.
I am currently 3 hours from the Ukrainian border as I am in Warsaw, Poland and I have already begun to witness the refugee crisis unfolding. Each day, more and more people fleeing Ukraine are arriving in Warsaw. These people have spent days walking across the border and they arrive exhausted, upset and scared. It breaks my heart to see them arrive with just a single bag and they tell me how they have literally left everything (in some cases their family included) behind.
As I am volunteering at a hostel which is receiving refugees every day, I am having a lot of contact with people in desperate situations. Today I met and spoke with medical students from Kyiv who were forced to flee the country. I spoke to them for a long time and they told me that they do not know if and when they will be able to continue their medical training. Years of hard-work, time and dedication has potentially been lost. I will be taking action and I am already in the process of writing to UK universities to see if there is a possibility for them to continue their training here. Nobody should have to sacrifice their education and I want to help them.
What has bought me hope at this time, however, is the attitude I have seen around Warsaw. There is a feeling of solidarity and unity. Facebook groups have been flooded with messages offering free accommodation and supplies for those crossing the border, including people offering to pick people up at the border.
What is more, local businesses such as the hostel I am at have displayed a Ukrainian flag and so have all the buses in Warsaw! I think this is an incredible example to us all as small gestures like this mean so much to people who are in a desperate situation. Countless buildings throughout the city have the flag displayed too.
In conclusion, just like the people of Warsaw right now, we all need to learn a lesson and be more open, welcoming and generous to those in need. Those who are safe need to fight for the rights’ of those who are currently in vulnrable situations and work closely with them to ensure they are not alone.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
One way is to support key charities, local and national or international.
Local Rotary Clubs, for example, including Tormohun’s, are organising collections to send to Poland. You can find out more by visiting their web pages, where they tell us ‘You can bring your items in good condition and drop them off at Conroy Couch, Pandora Torquay, and Devon Garden Machinery.’
Items needed include: blankets, hats,gloves,sleeping bags,towels,nappies,First Aid boxes, toothbrushes, colouring books,pencils and crayons
The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to help Ukraine. The charity will be updating its webpage with news on the work its team is doing, and how support will be used to help people.
Meanwhile, the BBC website has important information about a new appeal, organised by a network of major charities: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-60579727
There are several Ukrainian charities working on the ground, including Sunflower of Peace, a charity that helps paramedics and doctors, and has been fundraising for supplies, including first aid medical tactical backpacks.United Help Ukraine focuses on providing medical supplies and humanitarian aid, and raising awareness of the conflict while Voices of Children aims to help children affected by the war in eastern Ukraine, providing support through art therapy, psychologists, video storytelling and a number of other methods.
For more information on the Torbay Multicultural Network, by the way, please visit www.engagingcommunitiessouthwest.org.uk.
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