The ripples of war: One year since the war began
One year has passed since the conflict in Ukraine first began, and the situation remains as complex and volatile as ever, with no end in sight to the fighting or the suffering. It is also increasingly clear that there will be no winners in this war and that Ukraine’s future is ever more fragile.
How does the war looks now in figures? Terrible. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of 30 January 2023, 18817 civilian casualties were recorded, including 7155 deaths, more than 7.5 million people have fled Ukraine and nearly 7 million Ukrainians are internally displaced.
While these figures indicate a devastated country, numerous world organizations have intensified their humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine aiming to assist the most vulnerable communities and people and to provide them with urgently needed food, water, shelter and other basic support.
Foundation "Damen Helps" is no exception to these and, since its establishment, has continuously focused on raising money to support our Ukraine MDEM colleagues and their families. In Galati, where the yard undertook the mission to create an optimal environment as well as proper conditions for these people, an association was set up to design a better self-sustaining Ukrainian community, helping its members to integrate in the larger Romanian community.
“Help Ukrainians” was officially opened in the beginning of October 2022 and since then, several significant improvements have been registered with respect to the life and well-being of the Ukrainian colleagues. It has been a joint effort, a human approach and an emotional involvement of many, many people who dedicated many hours of work to make this establishment function. From Mrs Annelies Damen, the initiator and „soul” of “Damen Helps” and Michel de Reus, the coordinator of evacuation committee, to Damen Galati warm-hearted Dana Cristea, Eduard Radu, Dumitru Lazar, Traian Iftenie or Anca Artene and their Ukrainian partners Nick Latushkin, Olena Zhukova or Iuliia Belianevych de Gouw.
On February 8th 2023, Mrs Annelies Damen returned to Galati in her continue efforts to attract more and more support for the Ukrainian community. A visit was paid to MDEM offices at Damen Galati headquarters where Mrs Damen together with Dana Cristea and Nick Latushkin discussed with our Ukrainian colleagues. Many of them expressed their gratitude to the Foundation as being the major support in their adaptation to a new life. While some ladies showed themselves particularly happy for how their children are taken care of, via different cultural or sporting clubs, others were hiding their tears when being asked about their husbands left home to fight the invaders.
At the Community Center, life followed its now regular busy course. At the ground floor, several kids were joyfully playing under the careful supervision of one of the local assistants, the wife of an MDEM colleague. We found out that the daily child-care center usually accommodates seven to ten children. At the first floor, we were welcomed by the „technical staff” of the association. In a warm and pleasant office, Veronica who is doing all the papers, Tania, the financial „brain”, Tatiana, the psychologist and Masha, the translator explained how the association is organized and which are the challenges they face with in their work.
Last but not least, we entered the „artistic” room, the workshop where some ladies with golden hands were crafting different products. Here we found Olha, Olena, Iryna and Svetlana.
Looking ahead, it is difficult to predict what the future holds for Ukraine. The conflict has deep roots in the historical, cultural, and political differences between Ukraine and Russia, and resolving it will require a long-term effort by all parties involved. In the meantime, however, it is clear that the situation in Ukraine will continue to pose a serious challenge to both the country itself and the international community, and will require sustained attention and engagement in order to find a peaceful resolution.
Meanwhile, there is practical need for housing, language lessons, mental help and physical care, like dentist and checkups. ‘Foundation Damen Support’ wants to fulfill these needs. Help is necessary, all donations are welcome.