As we watch the news reports from Ukraine, our concern for our ORT colleagues and families continues to grow. ORT is now on the ground in Poland. This update includes a description of conditions on the border, along with stories from ORT representatives across Ukraine, and reports from Moldova and Israel, where fleeing Ukrainians are finding refuge.
Situation at the Poland Border
Ukrainian refugees experience dire conditions on the border.ORT has representatives at an evacuation site on the Polish border with Ukraine, which accommodates many thousands of people — mainly children, women and the elderly. It can take more than 50 hours to cross the border and the current weather conditions are life-threatening with snow and minus 10 degrees at night.
ORT is working with partners in the region to provide essential items to Ukrainians waiting on the border as well as ORT schools and communities in Kyiv, Odessa, Zaporozhe, Chernivtsi, and Belaya Tzerkov.
Firsthand Accounts from ORT Staff
Preparing food for those in need in Kyiv.
The war in Ukraine shows little signs of easing and our ORT staff on the ground are coping as best they can in very stressful and hostile conditions. In each case, the ORT network has demonstrated its strong bond. Schools in the relatively safer western region of the country are welcoming their colleagues from across Ukraine and providing them with provisions and information to help them manage in their new locations. From Kyiv to Odessa, efforts are underway to help people evacuate and for those who are not able to, making sure they have shelter and the basic necessities and medicines such as insulin to survive. Click here to read firsthand accounts that provide a window into the realities they are facing and how we can support them.
Moldova Welcomes Refugees from Ukraine
Svetlana Klimina, the Principal at ORT Lyceum B. Z. Herzl school in Kishinev and her colleagues have opened their doors and hearts to those who have fled Ukraine for bordering countries. She estimates that there are more than 100,000 refugees who have crossed the border and require assistance.
Svetlana has had direct requests for help from ORT schools in Kyiv and Odessa. The school has started the process of accepting students from ORT schools in Ukraine so they will not have a gap in their studies. She also is actively working on arranging accommodations in Kishinev, which are severely limited due to the large influx of refugees.
In addition to helping the ORT family, Svetlana has been helping Jewish refugees. She shared the story of 12 religious families of 50 people who arrived by bus from Uman. “We wanted to house them at the school’s sport center but it wasn’t suitable as there were no beds or bedding,” she said. They reached out to the local municipality who helped find places for them to stay.
The students have also raised $900 for Agudat Israel, the local synagogue, which serves as the point of contact for aid to refugees.
“Moldova is a small country and struggling with large numbers of people who have arrived. We are helping by providing food, water, hygiene products, and any other needs,” said Svetlana.
Israel Opens its Doors
Amos Gofer with Ukrainian students at Kfar Silver.
Israel is actively evacuating members of Ukrainian Jewish communities, including many children — some who are traveling alone. Once in Israel, the Israeli government and other relief organizations are resettling the newcomers and providing social services.
The Kfar Silver Youth Village, already home to many Ukrainian students, has already taken in refugees and is expecting many more to arrive in the coming days and weeks. According to Amos Gofer, CEO of the Village, he will not turn students away. He estimates that the village has the capacity for additional children and will provide them with the services needed to overcome the trauma they have experienced and help them acclimate to their new home and school. Amos and the professional staff are determining the resources needed to expand their services to even more students.
With Love to Ukraine from Mexico
With much love, students from CIM-ORT in Mexico have prepared a message of unity for our ORT family in Ukraine and in Russia.
The Needs are Great, the Time is Now
While Ukraine will certainly change as a result of this crisis, the need to give whatever assistance we can to help ensure that our students, teachers, and families stay safe will continue. With your help, we will provide Ukrainians with the resources to survive, whether they remain in Ukraine or flee to other countries.
We are already allocating funds directly to those on the ground in Ukraine and to help our schools prepare our communities outside Ukraine to welcome those who arrive in the coming days and weeks. We continue to identify further ways we can be of assistance as the crisis unfolds. The ORT Ukraine office is distributing funds directly to our staff in order for them to stock up on provisions and fuel as they continue to shelter at home, in underground transport hubs and bomb shelters. This funding is an immediate lifeline. Thank you for your generosity.
Click here to make your donation today. You will be making a difference for thousands of children.