Ukraine: 365 Days of Crisis

Ukraine, 1 year on. Still there, Still working: Stories from the Field365 days of crisis. one year after the February 24, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, OLAM and SID-Israel joined forces to collate information from many of the Jewish and Israeli organizations still in Ukraine and the region. They are still working to deliver funds, food, medical supplies, psychological support, and other much-needed equipment and services to the people of Ukraine, including those who remain in their homes, and those who remain refugees in other countries or are internally displaced.

Following is a (non-exhaustive) list of many of the Jewish and Israeli organizations still in Ukraine and the region, as well as those still fundraising for the cause, and those working throughout Europe, North America, and Israel on behalf of refugees. You can donate to them through the links.

Woman with child holding stuffed animal

Brit Olam supports “A Room of Her Own” – a shelter in Rzeszów, Poland run by Israeli and Jewish volunteers. It was established to protect women and children refugees from Ukraine. The program identifies women in need at border crossings, and offers emotional assistance, helps them find jobs, and provides both educational frameworks and informal education programs for their children.

Aside from donations, they are seeking Ukrainian or Russian-speaking volunteers with backgrounds in therapy-related fields, who could provide support and assistance to residents of the shelter. Anyone who is interested should email Verda Ribenfeld: [email protected]

Dream Doctors Project – Medical Clowning in Action teams train teachers in Moldovan refugee centers on therapeutic and emotional support techniques, so that they can support children and adults refugees. Dream Doctors also partners with Early Starters International, to provide regular emotional support activities for Ukrainian children now in Israel. 

Photo: Yuval Cohen HarounoffEarly Starters International established early childhood safe spaces – providing to the immediate needs of young Ukrainian children and their families, as well as continuing to support the long term needs of refugees. To date, they’ve developed 16 early childhood safe spaces in Moldova, Israel, and Prague. More than 3,500 children have participated in their activities. Their staff consists mostly of women refugees from Ukraine with relevant experience, who also receive professional development and support in dealing with challenges that arise. The young children’s safe space is also a base where community activities for mothers are organized – such as family visits to museums or hikes, and complementary services like legal advice and language studies.

Photo: EWB-IsraelEngineers Without Borders – IsraelWhat began as a concept based on years of experience working in under-resourced communities has evolved into a meaningful life-improving project that combines appropriate-technology with capacity-building in communities. Following a thorough needs assessment, 10 EWB-Israel’s teams began working with communities in refugee shelters along the Ukrainian border to plan, design, and construct indoor and outdoor facilities providing displaced families with safe places to relax, study, play, and meet. These delegations have also conducted workshops to train women and children to build and renovate their own living areas in refugee shelters.

Photo: HIAS/Right to Protection

HIAS works with local partners to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to those who have been internally displaced in Ukraine, and to refugees in Poland, Moldova, and Romania. This work is particularly focused on addressing protection gaps for vulnerable populations, including women and girls, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and non-Ukrainian asylum seekers and stateless people. In Ukraine, their long-time partner on the ground, Right to Protection (R2P), provides legal assistance; operates a hotline to provide information about services, evacuation, and refugee status; conducts protection-monitoring at checkpoints, conducts visits to those who have not left their home; and distributes food and essential supplies. HIAS will continue to support the growth of its local partners and work to identify new partners in eastern and southern Ukraine who can provide needed support to areas that may become accessible to humanitarians in the next year.

IsraAID works across Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania with partners ranging from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and the Office of the First Lady of Ukraine, to school networks and trade unions, local municipalities, community organizations, grassroots initiatives, and more. IsraAID’s emergency response operation, its largest one to date, includes psychological support, aid distribution, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, educational and medical support. IsraAID has delivered over 2.2 million kg of vital aid to 32 cities across Ukraine, provided water for more than 50,000 people in the southern city of Mykolaiv, trained 60 psychologists stationed in hospitals across three cities together with local NGO BarrierFree, and reached more than 8,300 people through Mobile Medical Clinics operated together with the organization FRIDA. In coming months, IsraAID’s teams will focus on emergency community resilience and long-term recovery. With a newly established logistics hub in Odesa strengthening the humanitarian supply chain from Romania to Ukraine, new mental health partnerships with national organizations, more safe water systems, new education partnerships for Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, and more, IsraAID is committed to supporting resilient Ukrainian communities inside and outside the country for the long-term.

Israel Trauma Coalition has trained mental health professionals and caregivers in Ukraine, across Europe, and in Israel. They work with psychologists, therapists, and other caregivers, who, in turn, work with: refugees, those suffering from trauma, survivors of violence, soldiers, veterans, bereaved families, and children impacted by the war. ITC, which has been conducting training programs in Ukraine since 2014, conducts trainings via webinars, hotlines, and in person. ITC teams also provide training and support to those working with Ukrainian refugees in Israel.

JDC-GRID is working in collaboration with Israel’s Sheba Medical Center to improve medical rehabilitation services in Ukraine. This includes both sending essential equipment to Ukrainian hospitals, and training and supporting rehabilitation teams on the ground. Simultaneously, JDC is working in countries hosting refugees, to help develop programs that allow for virtual medical consultations for the refugees.

JIAS Toronto, the only Jewish agency in Canada solely dedicated to the settlement of immigrants and refugees, provides information to refugees arriving in the Greater Toronto area, and has organized a centralized intake system for them. They also work with HIAS and JDC to tailor programs and services to respond to their urgent needs. JIAS volunteers provide 24/7 community-based support, including healthcare, childcare, and long-term housing. JIAS also advocates for change and support at every level of government.

Lev Echad sent about 300 emissaries from Israel and the USA to Ukraine and the region shortly after the invasion, to provide humanitarian and medical aid to tens of thousands of refugees – including establishing kindergartens and camps, and providing generators to families. The organization will continue distributing generators in the coming cold months, and in the next half year, will be working with the mayors of Lviv and Kyiv to develop resilience programs. This will include training medical teams to treat PTSD, planning the first protected school in Ukraine, continuing to train local education teams to deal with trauma. They’ll also continue to send young Israelis and Americans on trips to volunteer and strengthen Jewish identity with young Jewish Ukrainians.

NATAN spent months running a medical clinic in the ‘Tesco’ Refugee Center in Przemysl, Poland, and has partnered with local aid organizations and with JDC-GRID on various projects. They also trained 60 social workers in trauma intervention and hosted summer camps for Ukrainian children. NATAN has now been selected to take part in a rehabilitation program led by Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zalenska, to develop a model of resilience centers.

United Hatzalah of Israel has mobilized more than 200 volunteers with psychosocial and medical training to the Moldova-Ukraine borders. They provided medical and humanitarian services to thousands of Ukrainian refugees each day. They’ve also carried out 35 refugee rescue flights to Israel, bringing over 3,000 people to safety. In all, Hatzalah has provided assistance to more than 100,000 Ukrainian citizens and refugees. They remain committed to supporting communities across Ukraine who still need assistance as the crisis continues.

World Jewish Relief works with 22 local partners to scale up humanitarian efforts across Ukraine. They work in areas under fire, and where needs are greatest, giving priority to areas that are hardest to reach and have limited humanitarian access. WJR and their partners provide psychological support to vulnerable families, targeted assistance to meet individual needs, employment and livelihood aid, and other essential relief. In all, they’ve provided food, power, medical aid, and more to over 183,000 Ukrainians.

World ORT has been working tirelessly to help ORT students continue their education, whether they have left Ukraine or remained at home. They also moved dozens of people to safer areas of the country. Currently World ORT is working on easing infrastructure issues, such as power and heating shortages, for ORT staff, students and schools – so, aside from donations, they are interested in securing power generators, medical provisions, winter necessities such as sleeping bags, torches,  heaters etc. ORT leaders are now beginning to consider how to restructure ORT Ukraine in the coming years, as the situation in the country remains hugely uncertain, with significant ongoing threats to infrastructure hampering a return to in-person education options.