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Ukrainian partners prepare for winter

As cold weather approaches, two organizations in Ukraine are preparing to keep people warm, with PWRDF’s support.

December 15, 2022

By Janice Biehn

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PWRDF continues to support existing and new partners working in Ukraine. To date, $1,170,495 has been raised by churches and individuals across Canada for PWRDF, and the donations continue to pour in. Here’s an update on two new projects.

Caring for people with disabilities

In April 2022, PWRDF began a partnership with Fight for Right, an organization led by Ukrainian women with disabilities that provides care and advocacy for disabled people in Ukraine. Everyday challenges during the war became much more difficult and PWRDF responded to their needs by funding an innovative 24-hour hotline for people seeking help and support.

By the summer, the war showed no signs of ending, and people began to think of the cold months ahead. As of July, 352 critical heat supply infrastructure pieces were damaged or destroyed as a result of the war and only 30% of them were restored. Due to constant shelling of gas pipelines and the inability to repair them, people in most cities in the Donetsk region lived without gas through the fall and winter. In Kramatorsk, this means there will be no water either, because the sewer system cannot function without heat (the water in the pipes will freeze), so the city council must turn it off.

In the front-line cities of the Zaporizhzhia region, the heating season is in danger of disruption due to damaged gas pipelines. The same situation is in Melitopol, of which 95% is heated with natural gas.

Fight for Right anticipated the very cold winter back in June and initiated the ‘TEPLO’ project when they started receiving requests for help from people with disabilities to survive the upcoming winter, says Maryna Tekuchova of FFR.

“TEPLO will provide targeted support to 5,000 people with disabilities during the wintertime who experience difficulties with warming the house and or have shortage of clean water. We all know that this winter will be one of the hardest in Ukrainian history.”

Listen to Iuliia Sachuk of Fight for Right describe the challenges people with disabilities will face this winter on CBC’s The Current.

PWRDF is providing just under $100,000 towards the TEPLO project, which is also supported by JTI, Sweden Festival, the Nippon Foundation and individual donors.

Funds will allow for the purchase of warming items such as portable gas stoves, thermal pyjamas, sleeping bags, electric heated blankets, power charging banks, and portable gas heaters. If possible, diesel power generators will be purchased for houses that are without gas and electricity. The equipment will be distributed to:

  • people with complex types of disabilities who live in rural areas and are deprived gas supply;
  • people with disabilities and the elderly living in front-line territories;
  • families with children with disabilities.

Fight for Right plans to establish a temporary shelter in Dnipro to accommodate people with disabilities in case of extreme need. “It is the closest relatively safe city to the front-line,” says Tekuchova.

Support for Romani community in Moldova

Church World Service has been working in Moldova with local partners for more than 20 years, focusing on sustainable livelihoods, renewable energy and improving access to water and sanitation. PWRDF is supporting a new project with CWS, working on the ground with Romni, a registered non-for-profit organization since September 2016.  

The Romani people face pervasive bias and persistent discrimination in both Ukraine and Moldova. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, about 40,000 Romani citizens of Ukraine have entered Moldova. Romni estimates that approximately 5,000 Romani from Ukraine have sought refuge in Moldova. Romani refugees living in government-run refugee accommodation centres are housed separately from other Ukrainian refugees by the Moldovan authorities.  

With support from PWDRF, CWS will work with Romni to expand assistance for Romani refugees in Moldova. Romni has identified two full-time and five part-time Romani mediators, who will support refugee needs in Chisinau and either Glodeni or Costesti, as well as rural areas, through a mobile team. Five of the mediators are women to ensure that Romni can respond to the needs of female refugees in a culturally appropriate way. Four of the mediators will be Romani residents of Moldova and three will be Romani refugees from Ukraine.

The mediators will help Romani refugees access services, such as shelter, health care, education, food, clothing and transportation, through advocacy, information sharing and in-kind support.  

CWS will work with the UN agencies and non-government organizations to support Romni, especially in training and accompanying the mediators. The mediators’ primary responsibilities will include collecting information on the needs of Romani refugees, referring refugees to local authorities, civil society organizations, and other service providers, supporting referrals by providing advocacy, transportation, and service fees, and following up with refugees to check that their needs have been adequately met.

Winter clothes and winter shoes for refugees are in especially short supply. Romni anticipates that as winter approaches, more Romani refugee families will need assistance with clothing and fuel for heating.

With files from Naba Gurung

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For media requests please contact Communications Coordinator Janice Biehn at (416) 924-9199;366.

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