Kyiv Refugee Shelter

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Stories from Ukraine –

The initiative began when Valentina and some local acquaintances received a shipment of clothes and blankets. They invited anyone in need (many who had lost their homes and possessions) to come and take what they needed. The process was messy. It was wet and rainy—and people were just guessing at their sizes when they grabbed clothes.

“We need a dedicated space with changing rooms so people can keep warm and dry and try on clothes instead of taking things and then discarding them when they don’t fit,” we discussed amongst ourselves.  had helped us in the spring provide medicine and hygiene supplies for some of the elderly who couldn’t physically leave their homes. So we shared our idea with them.

We found a warehouse that would work—getting a “war-time” price for rent—and ISWI told us they were willing to cover the rent and utilities for the place. We outfitted larger spaces with racks and shelves for blankets and other supplies as well as clothes and changing rooms to try them on. We also prepared several rooms with beds made of stacked wooden crates and mattresses to temporarily house individuals and families who had lost everything and needed a few days or weeks to get situated.

When people come to our center, we offer them not only supplies but spiritual and emotional support. We have 20 volunteers, all who work jobs during the day, and give of their free hours to help others.

Each time we presented a need to ISWI as it arose. Each time they said “Yes!” From Ludmila, the single mother who had to close her kindergarten and had a son who fell suddenly ill and needed urgent surgery, to an unemployed grandmother caring for her special needs daughter and young granddaughter—we’ve already helped more than 8,000 people since we opened the center in May. We know the road ahead is long, but we are prepared for it.