500 days of responding to the Ukraine crisis

12 July, 2023

As the entire world watched Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, there was a sense of how much the world could change in a single day. The war changed the lives of millions of people in a moment.

Within three days, IsraAID arrived at the Moldova-Ukraine border to begin what would become our biggest emergency response mission to date. On day one, we set up our tent at the Palanca border crossing, creating a safe, warm space for Ukrainian refugees on their journey to safety.

500 days later, we still support Ukrainian refugees in Moldova and have expanded our humanitarian response into Ukraine. We have grown our regional expertise, built an incredible local staff, and developed programs over multiple sectors: Health and Medical, Protection, Education, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.

How can we possibly begin to think about everything we’ve achieved over the past 500 days? We can say that we’ve provided over 3 million liters of safe drinking water to over 300,000 residents of Mykolaiv. We can count over 1,000 certificates awarded to Ukrainians who participated in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support training sessions. We can weigh the thousands of tons of aid supplies delivered to dozens of Ukrainian cities.

Or we can take it one day at a time. At our Ukraine mission, like all our global missions, no two days are the same. We could be running a first aid training session for educators, providing psychological support for essential professionals like rail workers or doctors, delivering medical supplies to a hospital, or meeting with government officials to discuss our partnerships. But whatever the task for the day, it has wider implications that reverberate out into the community.

Here’s a look into a single day: One that builds on all the days that came before it and lays the ground for the days that come after.

Bringing Essential Items to Remote, War-torn Communities

The village of Posad-Pokrovske lies on the border of Kherson and Mykolaiv region. After 9 months under Russian occupation, at the front line where Ukrainian and Russian forces traded blows, every community member who stayed in the village was living in a home riddled with holes in the roofs and walls. The only medical clinic, run by a single nurse, was running dangerously low on supplies. And winter was setting in.

In one day, IsraAID was able to provide the small clinic with more medical supplies than they had had in months. We were able to bring and install a new generator, providing electricity and heat for a communal space. We brought thermal clothing and blankets for every member of the community.

It is often the case that the more remote and the nearer to the frontlines a village is, the less support they receive to repair their homes, replenish supplies, and keep warm through the winter. Though a distribution takes one day, it is not a stand-alone event. We reach these communities through the long-term partnerships we build with other organizations, municipalities, and community leaders. These partnerships are built over months and years and allow us to know what’s needed, procure it, and deliver it.

On the day itself, we distribute items that everyone can use. While we do so, we talk to people. We speak with community members and leaders to find out what they need most. If there are specific items that we weren’t able to bring or that they need more of, then we make plans to return. We build relationships with key members of the community to lay the groundwork for future programs, like child-friendly spaces, education programs, health programs, or Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene projects. And we’ll keep returning for as long as it takes.

This day in Posad-Pokrovske was neither the first nor the last. That day made an immediate difference in the lives of the community members. And there have been 499 more days like it.

After 500 days of responding to the Ukraine crisis, we are committed to helping people affected by war in the region for at least another 1000 days, but we need you to be part of this response. No matter the size, a monthly donation to IsraAID helps us plan. Sign up today to donate one day every month.

 

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