A bit of background
When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Regina Reza - who had gone on from being a Peace Corps volunteer there to working in Child Protection for many years has maintained relationships with many people in the Kharkiv oblast, which was initially and continues to be hard hit. Several of her contacts shared with her that much of the frontline relief work was being done by ordinary Ukrainians. She reached out to our Founder Dove Pressnall to explore possibilities for helping these first responders and they were joined by Inna Cherkashyna, who was in England at the time of the invasion and was not able to return home.
Frontline Volunteer Support
Through her personal and professional connections, Regina identified a group of Internally Displaced People, or IDPs, who had organized as the Ukrainian NGO Help and Hope (also on Instagram, FB) to support others in the shelter where they all found themselves. By September 2022, they found themselves facing the coming Winter already burned out and exhausted and were eager to work with us. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, they conducted a review of the 'burnout prevention' trainings available online and found them to be too general and targeted to health and mental health professionals.
The Help and Hope team agreed to be a part of our piloting a supportive workshop series. So, with financial backing from Project Kesher, we developed Volunteer's Way (Eng Ukr) a supportive workshop specifically for these para-professional frontline workers. We also developed and piloted Survivors' Stories (Eng Ukr) which provides a framework for using Ethical and Strength-centered storytelling in their social media and promotional materials. The Help and Hope team participated in these online workshops which we delivered with simultaneous translation and provided extremely valuable feedback to refine and make the presentations and materials more relevant. We are now working to scale this work up, with a vision of supporting Ukrainian organizers and community workers to share these resources with frontline workers in other areas.
Facilitating Mutual Aid
Currently in its pilot phase, The Seed Project is an effort to connect those impacted by the war with others through gifts of seeds that will be used to grow food to sustain families and communities near the frontlines. The delivery of Aid and support to the Hard-to-Reach areas has been an on-going struggle since the war began. Residents remaining in those areas are dependent on resources from safer regions. One way to reduce that dependence is through localized food production, on all scales. A DIY Coalition has developed this project to help those who are the most vulnerable begin to redevelop their food security.