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Aid agencies jump in to alleviate suffering

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As much of the world unites in support of Ukraine, many in our community are looking for ways to assist those still in the Eastern European country and others who have fled to neighbouring countries.

“South African Jewry are distraught by the suffering in Ukraine,” says Wendy Kahn, the national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “The SAJBD has partnered with the [American Jewish] Joint Distribution Committee [JDC] to help.”

Since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the New York City-based JDC has worked in Ukraine and across the former Soviet Union.

“JDC is providing humanitarian relief on the ground,” says Kahn. “We have worked with the JDC for many [years] and recognise its immense experience in dealing with crises of this nature. Being so far away from Ukraine makes it difficult for us to provide direct support on the ground. Therefore, it’s reassuring that we’re able to use the JDC as a conduit to make a meaningful contribution to relief [efforts].”

The SA Jewish Report spoke to four other aid organisations to see what they are doing.

World Jewish Relief (WJR)

WJR has launched a Ukraine crisis appeal, through which people can donate money to those in Ukraine.

Based in London, WJR is responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs as they arise, prioritising food, cash, medical, material and psychological support for the worst affected, whether fleeing their homes or unable to escape.

According to Emily Dean, the marketing manager at WJR, the organisation is helping its partners in Ukraine to access hygiene equipment and food, as well as provide home care and psychological support. “Where possible, we’re helping to fund evacuations, currently from Odesa and Zaporizhia,” says Dean.

She says WJR is helping partners in Poland and Moldova to expand capability to support refugees arriving from Ukraine. WJR’s partners have trained carers and counsellors who are either visiting vulnerable people in their homes or engaging with them through online support groups.

Donations through the WJR website are only in pound sterling, but you can donate in any currency via its JustGiving page, justgiving.com/wjr.

Jewish National Fund South Africa (JNFSA)

Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) recently received about 100 orphaned children from the Chabad Alumim orphanage in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr.

Donations towards JNFSA will be sent to Israel and used by KKL-JNF. As the children are now in Israel, the money will cover the costs of all their needs such as food, accommodation, healthcare and entertainment.

“The children will have some trauma counselling, but KKL-JNF want to make it as fun as possible for them,” says Beverley Schneider, JNF national director. “An education aspect will be included as well.”

Asked about the long-term plan for these children, Schneider says, “KKL-JNF is going to keep them in Israel for the duration of the war. Then a decision will be made about whether they will make aliya or go back to Ukraine, if circumstances allow.”

Donate to jnfsa.co.za; Standard Bank; account number 300465270; ref: your name/Ukrainian Appeal

We Are South Africans (Wasa)

Gilbert Martin, the founder of Wasa, says, “Wasa and its charitable arm, the People of South Africa Foundation NPC [PSAF], have been assisting Kim Kur and Lorraine Blauw for 10 of the 13 days that South Africans have been subjected to the ordeal of the department of international relations and co-operation’s bad international responses, policies and outbursts.”

Members of Wasa have embarked on a campaign to gather funds to help as many people as it can to “come home” to South Africa. “We have also offered to help students when they’re back home to ensure their studies aren’t interrupted,” says Martin.

“Once we get people to South Africa, we’ll have to reassess what the family’s needs are before assisting and stabilising their lives as quickly as possible.”

Many trauma councillors have reached out to the two organisations. “We welcome anyone to join us on our outreach or provide aid directly to the people affected by this tragedy,” says Martin.

To donate to Wasa, go to wearesouthafricans.com/donate

Nova Ukraine

This Ukraine-based non-profit organisation has partnered with organisations and volunteers in Poland and Romania. Some of them work with the Red Cross, some evaluate the needs of recently arrived refugees, others prepare logistics for additional volunteers.

“In Ukraine, we co-ordinate transportation, so aid delivery in the eastern direction is combined with people evacuation in the western direction,” says Igor Markov, a director at Nova.

South Africans can donate money to Nova through wire transfers, PayPal and Facebook fundraisers. The organisation is also seeking medical supplies, particularly tactical and trauma supplies, for those in Ukraine and Poland.

“Many fake Twitter accounts impersonate Nova Ukraine and collect donations. We don’t have a Twitter account,” says Markov. “Our Facebook page has a blue badge of authenticity.”

Go to www.novaukraine.org.

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