Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine has created the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Over 4.8 million Ukrainians have arrived in Poland alone, with a large majority of these refugees being women and children. The large scale of this humanitarian crisis has created a challenge for nonprofits and government entities that lack the resources to support the mass migration of refugees.
Working with the KDM Church in Krakow, Poland, Spirit of America provided funding support for their Refugee Housing Response project. This initiative will supply food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical and social services, and more to 1,000 Ukrainian refugees in Poland, including families of Ukrainian soldiers.
In July I visited one of the six Ukrainian refugee housing centers that KDM Church is supporting in Poland. This particular center houses 261 people, 148 of whom are children. The stories I heard of survival and bravery were astounding:
- One family spent 40 days in an underground bunker in Mariupol while the city was constantly bombarded by Russian shelling.
- A woman named Nadia is grief-stricken; her son joined the Territorial Defense Force in February and has since been captured by Russian forces in Donetsk.
- Another woman at the refugee center fled to Poland in March, despite being 5 months pregnant. Her husband was killed by Russian forces in June; less than a month later she gave birth to their baby girl.
During my visit, I spoke at length with a woman named Tanya, whose husband serves in the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces. Tanya is a softspoken, patriotic Ukrainian. She worked in Kyiv as a shopkeeper, and on February 24 when her husband was called to the fight, she kept their two children alive by sleeping in the hallways of their apartment building until they could evacuate the city. She was able to flee with the two children on March 11, during the height of the Russian assault on the Ukrainian capital city. Tanya had no idea where they would go or how they would live outside of Ukraine, and feels grateful that the KDM refugee center took them in.
Tanya’s husband is currently in the hospital with a leg injury from the war, but she feels confident that he will recover and return to the fight soon. His unit received Spirit of America aid, and she thanked us for “the support to his safety and also to his spirit.” When I asked her what she wanted Americans to know about the war, she simply said:
“We didn’t want this war. We didn’t start it. We just want to go home. But soldiers and citizens will defend our land to the end.”
Due to your generous support, Spirit of America was able to provide funding to meet the basic needs of Tanya and other families like hers. It costs $28 a day per refugee to pay for the lodging, meals, medical care, and basic daily needs – a small price to pay compared to the sacrifices made by Ukrainians defending freedom and democracy.