Med Care 4 Ukraine - Humanitarian Resupply #6

21 / Jan / 2023 28 / Jan / 2023

Mission Logbook

The mission was composed of three activists from Rome (Roberto, Luciano and Aldo), one from Parma (Nicola) and one from Brescia (Paula).
We brought medicines for our Med Care, other generics, clothes, food, soaps, nappies, children's toys, a power station and a generator.
The aid came from Naples (medicines, generator and clothes), Brescia (clothes and games) Mogliano (power station), Rome (clothes, games and food from Spin Time and Casetta Rossa/L'Approdo, nappies and food from Banco Alimentare, soaps from the social policy department of Roma Capitale). We travelled in a van and a van.

Bosco Park

Bosco Park

We were welcomed by Father Andrji, who provided us with a comfortable room, beds with sheets and blankets, towels, running water, electricity (they have a generator when there are outages in the city, scheduled five hours a day at least) wi fi, the self-service canteen open from 9am to 6pm. 

We unloaded medicine for Med Care in the former tailor's workshop, clothes and food, the generator for them. 

The Salesians no longer take in refugees, the centre's activities have resumed an ordinary course (boarding school, training centres, boys from the neighbourhood who come to play on the football teams...)

The shelter is no longer in the building where we sleep but going out to the right (it would look like a basement parking lot). 

In the shelter we unloaded clothes that will leave for the east with humanitarian aid distribution missions that they organize with some regularity. 

Sykhiv refugee camp.

Welcomed by Father Andrji (also a Salesian, namesake of the one in Bosco Park) who works there for Lviv City Hall. 

The camp is undergoing a profound transformation; any day now the 130 families will be moved next door to the new two-story camp, which will house all the refugees from the three municipal camps (estimated over 1,300 guests at the end of the move). 

The new camp was supposed to be ready for winter (the modules are not so different, but they appear to be insulated, and to use the toilets, it will no longer be necessary to go outdoors) but they are behind schedule. Overall, not exactly comfortable accommodations. The Salesians will continue to run the canteen (one meal a day) and in general Fr. Andrji seems to be the reference for camp activities (daycare, common spaces, clothes distribution and general aid). 

We unloaded clothes (few, they had a full warehouse) and food. On Wednesday morning we returned to document the distribution of clothes.

Community of Sant'Egidio

They have an office in the centre, a restaurant closed because of the pandemic rented at a reduced price. A large hall, an office with four desks, a very large kitchen and the dry warehouses they use to store the aid they receive awaiting distribution.

We were welcomed by Jura, a professor of Italian at the University of Kiev, who moved with his family to Lviv at the start of the war. He coordinates a group of a hundred or so volunteers of all ages (mostly women, many of them internal refugees themselves, who have received aid and in turn made themselves available). 

They distribute aid in the city ('We used to help the poor of Lviv, now we continue, only many more have joined from the east') support many local realities (e.g. the monastery of Briucovichi), send parcels throughout the country using the postal service, directly support local administrations, hospitals, refugee camps... they distribute the equivalent of one million Euros per month!

Ukrainians, very much embedded in the context, very much supported by other communities around the world, especially in Europe, have evacuated the sick, the elderly, children, the handicapped, both internally and abroad. 

Jura is an educated man, well-informed, he keeps in touch with everyone, he receives visits and help regularly, yet he is happy about our visit, that there are people who remember them, (we will return to this later). He understands who we are, asks if we would like to attend a meeting with them in the future to explain what Mediterranea is and the search and rescue work in the central Mediterranean. He would like to know if there are any specialists among our medical staff ('Your doctors study better than ours, they could help us make better diagnoses and treatment plans') and hypothesises the possibility of parking the clinic in front of their premises when they do the distribution, giving their users the chance to book a visit (of course, we made no such commitment, as agreed). 

On the last day we left them nappies and soaps that were left over, on Friday they had already shared a post of a family who had received them in a parcel...

Woman in march/Insight

We were welcomed by Krystyna, whom we interviewed (Paula will share the footage in a few days). 

We left clothes, food, nappies, toys and baby prams with them. They have two shelters in Lviv and send aid all over the country via the postal service. We know a lot about them, so we won't dwell on it, but as with Jura we confirm the great gratitude, which we felt went beyond material support. When we arrived Krystyna had a tense expression, the whole time we were together she did not stop smiling, and with her Alexander (Sasha), who helped us unload.

Monastero di Briucovichi

We arrived on Wednesday at one o'clock because of the alarm in the morning. Father Panteleimon invited us to lunch, in the refectory with the refugees. He insisted that we interview them, in the end there was a queue, (for the filming as above). 

They are 50 Basilian monks of the Greek Catholic rite and take in 150 refugees in the guesthouse, comfortable rooms, but also in smaller rooms (however with bathroom). Refugees who can help with the cooking and help with general management. The first arrived from cities in the east where the Basilians had opened clandestine monasteries during the Soviet regime, the others from the rehabilitation hospital nearby (they are wounded people transferred from conflict zones who once discharged have nowhere to go). The reception is supported by funding projects, mainly from Germany. Like Krystyna, Pantaleon also complained about the bureaucracy of these realities, the funding on account, the general back office work they require to release funds that they have no time or energy to do. 

Now they have no more places, Jura of Sant'Egidio confided to us that the municipality has asked them to help, both materially and because they are overwhelmed by the situation ("a monk sees a child three hours a week and if he is not well he tells the mother to take him away, now they have to manage whole families...")

Pantaleon told us that the monastery offers, through external specialists, psychological and psychiatric support, representing problems of people who are very tired, not only physically. The people we met during our visit actually confirm his statement: among other things, those taken in by the rehabilitation hospital are in convalescence (on this the Med Care doctors who go once a week can say better than we can).

We left no humanitarian aid at the monastery. In general, for the missions to follow, we should contact our partners from Italy and agree on what to bring, what they need. 

Back in Rome, Panteleimon wrote to us:

Panteleimon: Hi Aldo! I said we don't need a generator. Instead our bursar told me I was not right because our generator is too weak and also breaks down often. So we would be very grateful if you could get us a 50 kW generator. God bless you! See you soon! Fr Panteleimon 

Aldo: Hello Panteleimon, I am pleased to hear from you. I will get back to you as soon as possible. A hug to you, the other monks and all your guests.

Refugees

Many women who have fled to the EU now go back and forth as they did before the war: they have left behind husbands, children, elderly parents and return to see them as and when they can. 

Many who live on the front line do not travel more than a few hundred kilometres, hoping to return home as soon as possible. 

In Galicia, in the Lviv region, there are currently estimated to be around 300,000 refugees, most of them in informal reception situations or renting (buying) accommodation. Lviv is full of construction sites, from the Donbass region even wealthy people are arriving. Three trains a day arrive at the central station (which we did not visit) from the east and south.


The War as seen from Lviv

The city has a seemingly ordinary life, traffic, trams full of people going to and from work, shops, bars and restaurants open... the electricity is cut off five hours a day at least, in some neighbourhoods with electricity there is no water, but if it weren't for a few roadblocks at the entrances (many fewer than in the past) a few protected statues, sandbags at the windows of the shelters and generators leaning next to shop windows, you wouldn't think you were in a country at war. In the three full days we were there, the missile alarm sounded three times, but when we were in the centre, people continued to live normally, no one went to the shelters (the Salesians didn't, they took everyone to the shelter) so much so that on the day we left (Thursday 21) when the attacks were heaviest, the governor of Lviv oblast wrote on Telegram to the population to take the alert seriously. 

The difficulties are probably much more serious than we can see, the poor have risen, as have prices, and above all there will be a problem of systemic resilience if the war drags on any longer. 

Recruitment in Lviv is done by notice delivered to your home, if they don't find you, you pretend nothing happened. They seem to be looking for mature men, between thirty and forty-five years old, to train. The husband of a Sant'Egidio volunteer has already gone three times, but then they sent him home. More rarely they stop people in the street. Videos of arrests of renegades are circulating on Telegram, but no one has told us about them.

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