Since Putin’s announcement of the mobilization and other news, our efforts to help refugees in Russia have collapsed. Refugees, Ukrainian civilians, have been fleeing the war. Every day our foundation receives about fifty appeals for assistance, people asking to be clothed and fed. Who has been trying to solve these issues for all these past seven months? Volunteers and philanthropists. Where are those volunteers and benefactors now? In Kazakhstan, in Georgia. Or in Russia, but panicked or depressed and unable to do anything.
I (the foundation’s director and founder) have myself begun to handle applications from refugees as a curator. Today, I called a family — a woman with two small children. In Ukraine, she was a businesswoman, she had her own restaurant and two shops. The war came to her city, and now she has nothing, not even a bra or bed linen. She asked for a duvet cover, at least one. She said that she is renting a room in an apartment. There is one sofa, on which she and her two children sleep “like a jack in a deck of cards”; they have two pillows for three people and not a single duvet cover. We try to help refugees with underwear, so I asked whether she had a bra. She answered proudly, “No, but I’m not complaining, I don’t consider it an essential.” She asked for food and a duvet cover. We try to do something to cheer up children, so I asked whether her children wanted a scooter. She said they really want one: they envy the other children on the playground who have a scooter or a bicycle.
We were so proud that our foundation had 500 volunteer curators who managed refugee issues. Since the mobilization began, around 30% of those curators have dropped out, having left the country. I had a long list of philanthropists who were happy to help refugees in some way. Now about 50% of benefactors respond that they are no longer able to help.
Is there anyone left here [in Russia] who has the resources to help others? If you are here and willing to do something for people who have fled the war, the Refugee Relief Fund is in particular need of help now.
We really need curators — volunteers who are willing to spend an hour a day coordinating assistance to refugees. The application form is here: https://forms.gle/3WroeebLSz4m6guh8
We really need benefactors — people who are willing, starting from one thousand rubles, to donate once or regularly to pay for food, underpants, medicines, etc., for the refugees. If you can help out with money, write us a message in WhatsApp specifying the amount you are willing to donate, and whether you would like to donate on a one-time or monthly basis. We will send you a formal request from specific people whom you can pay online or to whom you can personally donate a pillowcase, chicken, or bottle of Nurofen. Write to Katya Chistyakova (our foundation’s fundraiser), at +7 966 140-8243 on WhatsApp.
If you do not want to help in a targeted manner and talk about specific families with curators, you can make a monthly donation to the foundation: https://mayak.fund/help-with-money
Source: Lidia Moniava, Facebook, 3 October 2022. Ms. Moniava is the co-founder of the Lighthouse Charity Foundation. I don’t think it is possible for people using non-Russian bank cards and western payment systems to make donations to Lighthouse at the moment, but you are welcome to try. Photo courtesy of Ms. Moniava’s Facebook page. Translated by the Russian Reader
As Russian forces laid siege to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol this spring, children fled bombed-out group homes and boarding schools. Separated from their families, they followed neighbors or strangers heading west, seeking the relative safety of central Ukraine.
Instead, at checkpoints around the city, pro-Russia forces intercepted them, according to interviews with the children, witnesses and family members. The authorities put them on buses headed deeper into Russian-held territory.
“I didn’t want to go,” said Anya, 14, who escaped a home for tuberculosis patients in Mariupol and is now with a foster family near Moscow. “But nobody asked me.”
In the rush to flee, she said, she left behind a sketchbook containing her mother’s phone number. All she could remember were the first three digits.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Russian authorities have announced with patriotic fanfare the transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia to be adopted and become citizens. On state-run television, officials offer teddy bears to new arrivals, who are portrayed as abandoned children being rescued from war.
In fact, this mass transfer of children is a potential war crime, regardless of whether they were orphans. And while many of the children did come from orphanages and group homes, the authorities also took children whose relatives or guardians want them back, according to interviews with children and families on both sides of the border.
As Russian troops pushed into Ukraine, children like Anya who were fleeing newly occupied territories were swept up. Some were taken after their parents had been killed or imprisoned by Russian troops, according to local Ukrainian officials.
This systematic resettlement is part of a broader strategy by the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, to treat Ukraine as a part of Russia and cast his illegal invasion as a noble cause. His government has used children — including the sick, poor and orphaned — as part of a propaganda campaign presenting Russia as a charitable savior.
Source: Emma Bubola, “Using Adoptions, Russia Turns Ukrainian Children Into Spoils of War,” New York Times, 22 October 2022