On 21-23 October 2022, a delivery truck from the Open Dialogue Foundation appeared in Lviv and Drohobych. Three tonnes of cargo in the form of humanitarian aid was donated for further distribution to the charity organisation “Razom for Ukraine” and the Charitable Fund of the Wesoły Family.
Goods collected thanks to the generosity of our donors and friends went, among others, to internally displaced persons staying in the dormitories of Drohobych University and soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) – who are currently fighting in the Kharkiv direction, and suchlike – and snipers training in the Carpathians.
The donated aid package included medicines, towels, sanitising gels, nappies, menstrual pads, rusks and broth cubes, as well as winter sleeping bags, specialised medical scalpels, field beds and mattresses. The latter, in the number of 40 sets (bed and mattress), were given to soldiers undergoing specialised shooting and sniper training.
We also identified further needs of displaced people and soldiers in connection with the winter season. Dispersed in the dormitories, the refugees mainly need:
● warm sleeping bags,
● winter clothing,
● winter boots, especially for children,
● antiviral medications,
● heaters of all kinds.
Soldiers on the frontline and at training grounds/centres need:
● warm sleeping bags,
● tactical boots,
● winter thermal clothing,
● rusks and broth cubes,
● field beds and mattresses,
● military tents.
This is not the first time that the local community in Drohobych has encountered the need to support and accommodate their compatriots from the eastern part of Ukraine. Beginning in 2014 with Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, families of Crimean Tatars – especially those persecuted by the occupation authorities – have been arriving in Drohobych. The Russian invasion in 2022, however, has multiplied the number of newcomers – only the dormitory we have visited counts 500 people. With the exception of a few fathers of large families, they were mostly women and children (around 100) – from Mariupol, Kherson, Kharkiv and Bakhmut.
Husbands and fathers are more often dead, serving in the AFU or working for the services supporting the army. Almost all refugee women declare their desire to stay in Ukraine and return to their hometowns as soon as possible. For the first part of the wish, however, they ask for support from the AFU.
Refugee children attend schools in Drohobych or study remotely by telephone. The dormitory is not heated – the city’s heating network is cut off from the gas supply. The streetlights in Drohobych – as in many other places in the country – are not lit at night for economic reasons.
In addition to local volunteers, support is provided by organisations such as Caritas and the mission of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God Hospital from Poland, while foreign aid organisations and Western governments are involved in funding the upkeep of these people. However, this does not allow even basic needs to be fully met, and providing heating during the winter period remains a pressing problem. Therefore, potbelly stoves are a sought-after item. There are about 250,000 displaced people in the Lviv region, of which about 15,000 are in the Drohobych district (according to estimates). With winter approaching, an influx of another 100,000 is expected.
Our colleagues Dominika Przychodzeń, Mariusz Pilat and Bartosz Kramek took part in the mission.
The costs of organising the trip were helped by the Social and Cultural Association “Poland-Ukraine” (Poznań) and the Polish Humanitarian Team (Żegiestów/Muszyna). In Drohobych we were hosted by our friend Artur Deska, deputy director of the local Greek-Catholic organisation Caritas. Our guide and chaperone was the precious and excellent Jose Turczyk.
You can support our activities by visiting the webpage: https://zrzutka.pl/PomocUkrainie