Since February 24, when Russia attacked Ukraine, we have been in close contact with our long-standing partners in Ukraine, providing support where we can and where it is needed. We felt the strength of our large MitOst network when we launched a fundraising campaign immediately, and more than 1.2 million euros were collected in a very short period. We made use of this mainly to help in the humanitarian sphere: evacuation, medical equipment and protective equipment. Our partners on site also worked to evacuate and protect art works – we are glad that we were able to provide financial support for that. In the border region in Poland and the Republic of Moldova and also in Germany, people from our network are active and have taken in people who have been forced to flee.
We have seen that offers have emerged for artists, journalists and scientists – and this is great. Our aim was to fill a gap with the Vidnova Fellowship: a grant for refugee civil society players. We consciously adopt a broad understanding here because we are convinced that civil society will play a key role in the reconstruction of Ukraine. This applies to all the different areas in which people become involved: in the protection of minorities, in education or health, in local communities. The Vidnova Fellows are linked with civil society organizations across Europe, and at the network meetings we aim to strengthen future collaboration. We see how much this framework is needed – people are taken out of their context; many of them are women with children who have to find their way alone in a new environment. We see how an exchange and mutual support are helpful here.
There are very different directions. It was important for us to create an opportunity for the Fellows to stay active, to do something for Ukraine – and to continue with things they have already started in Ukraine. One Fellow is planning to create a map of Ukrainian diaspora organizations in Germany to support their networking with this overview. In Warsaw, there are activities for children with autism and their families to make their arrival in the new environment easier.