March 18, 2022
By Janice Biehn
Since Russia began rolling its tanks into Ukraine on February 24, donations to PWRDF have flooded in, with an overwhelming $266,500 being raised in just a few short weeks.
PWRDF responded quickly with $20,000 to an ACT Alliance appeal, but soon after changed that initial amount to $50,000. Today PWRDF announces an additional $50,000 allocation to the ACT Alliance, and $50,000 to HelpAge International working to support seniors trying to cross the border into Moldova, for a total of $150,000. As donations continue to come in, PWRDF will be disbursing funds to our partners on the ground who are able to put money to good use right away.
Work with the ACT Alliance is with fellow member Hungarian Interchurch Aid who is supporting Ukrainians as they make the long journey from their homes to the Hungarian border.
HelpAge International is an organization that supports vulnerable seniors all over the world. In the early days of the pandemic, PWRDF supported HelpAge Canada with $40,000 to fund grants for local groups across Canada supporting seniors.
HelpAge International has been working in Moldova since 2000 and is building up its humanitarian presence there now. The country of 2.6 million has already welcomed 250,000 refugees. It bears the distinction of being the poorest country in Europe and is landlocked by Ukraine and Romania. Many of those arriving in Moldova are seniors.
Samuel Wood, Head of Humanitarian at HelpAge, visited the border crossing area in Palanca, on the southern border of Moldova near Odessa. Palanca is a 2.5-hour drive from the Moldovan capital of Chisinau.
“As we approached the border, we saw more and more cars on the road with Ukrainian plates. People looked tired and stressed. … Some refugees arrived in their cars, but many came by bus – or even on foot – and were looking for transport to continue their journey. Some living on the outskirts of Odessa, woke up that morning to shelling and realised that it was time to leave.
“We saw a fairly large number of older people arriving, as well as some people with disabilities who were being assisted in their journey. … Some of them had an idea of where they wanted to go, but not all. Many were desperately lacking information and guidance.
“The thing that struck me the most was incredible spirit of the Ukrainian people we met, and the sense of camaraderie. Despite all the hardships, the older women we spoke to were smiling and joking. It is amazing to see people be so resilient and able to make jokes in such a situation.”
The refugees’ presence is being felt in many places, says Wood. “In the hotel where I am staying, many rooms have been given to refugees. The Moldovan government and its people are providing incredible support to those arriving in their country to escape from conflict.”
How you can help
To make a donation to this response, click here, or go to pwrdf.org/give-today and click on Response in Ukraine. You may also donate by phone at 416-822-9083 or leave a voicemail toll-free at 1-866-308-7973 and we will return your call, or mail your cheque to PWRDF, 80 Hayden, 3rd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2. Please mark Ukraine in the memo field.