Polish Center for International Aid another year of support for Ukraine
- The PCPM Foundation developed an aid plan before the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and was active from the first hours of the war
- The Polish Center for International Aid is helping victims of the war in Ukraine thanks to the support of donors
- As a Polish organization, PCPM helps by paying aid payments, employing refugees, supporting evacuations from Ukraine, delivering humanitarian and medical aid to the site, supporting the education system for Ukrainian children
To meet this challenge – with each passing week or month – we have expanded our activities to include other elements of assistance: from the delivery of humanitarian aid, assistance at border crossings, evacuation of civilians and medical evacuations, support for Ukrainian hospitals through refugee adaptation programs, support for the education system, financial relief, and employment programs for refugees and displaced persons.
PREPARATIONS IN KHARKOV AND ON THE DNIEPER LINE
When protests broke out in Kiev’s Maidan in 2014, we began providing medical and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. When the fighting in the Donbass began, we sent humanitarian aid convoys to towns near the front line. Thanks to this we gained contacts and experience which we still use today.
‘Even before February 24, the PCPM Foundation prepared plans in case of war. As a result, we were ready for action within the first few hours’ emphasizes Wojtek Wilk, PhD, President of the PCPM Foundation.
We had already been preparing an evacuation point for residents from Kharkiv and the surrounding area (near Krzemenchuk), for several weeks before the outbreak of war. We provided our local collaborators with buses needed to evacuate the civilian population. Before the full-scale Russian aggression began, we sent parcels of warm clothing, flashlights, batteries and candles to Donbass. In cooperation with local organizations, we arranged for psychologists to work in the shelters who quickly proved to be indispensable.
On February 24, we launched a fundraiser to which both individual donors and businesses, corporations, as well as artists, institutions and communities responded in solidarity. As a result, week after week, aid reached more and more people: in Poland and Ukraine.
EVACUATIONS TO WESTERN UKRAINE AND POLAND
‘The biggest challenge was to ensure that seriously ill Ukrainian patients continued their treatment. An urgent need arose to organize a professional medical evacuation. From March to September, we evacuated more than a thousand patients from Ukraine’, enumerates Adam Szyszka, EMT PCPM, Head of MEDEVAC HUB Jasionka.
In late February and early March, people fled Ukrainian cities using their own means of transportation, but also public transportation or organized evacuations such as ours. There was a need for a point where refugees could rest, eat a meal, charge their phones or plan their onward journey.
Krzemenchuk became such a place – a point of assistance for those trying to get from the east to the west of the war-stricken country, as well as to Poland or other European countries. The point provided free accommodation and meals. Those who could not or did not want to go further could stay there for longer.
Back in February, we organized a hotline through which residents of Kharkiv and nearby towns could make evacuation requests. We organized both buses running inside Ukraine and coaches to Poland. In total, more than 1,200 people benefited from our evacuation assistance by our place in Krzemenchuk. Most of them reached Poland with our help.
Members of the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM supported Ukrainian patients from the very beginning. They took part in the evacuation of a children’s cancer hospital, including those who were sick and left on their own during the shelling of Ukrainian cities, and patients in need of specialized treatment. In total, we evacuated more than 1,000 patients to hospitals in other countries or in western Ukraine. We purchased and donated 4 fully-equipped ambulances, which are now serving the Ukrainian health service.
PCPM TRANSIT CENTER IN WARSAW AND AID CENTERS IN LATVIA
The war has forced millions of people to flee their homes. According to UNHCR data, by the end of January this year 8 million Ukrainian citizens made their way to Europe since the conflict began. In Poland, almost 1,6 million stayed temporarily.
On March 25, we opened a 24-hour Transit Center at the East Warsaw Railway Station, in cooperation with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the City of Warsaw. Up to a thousand people daily benefited from this assistance: refugees there received accommodation, meals, a SIM card, train and plane tickets, as well as assistance in finding housing. The Transit Center welcomed 35,000 people from March to September. Volunteers were also available during the night to provide help.
Refugees from Ukraine are also being supported in Latvia. According to the UN, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced deep into Russian territory, from where many of them attempted to enter the EU via the Baltic States. In November 2022, we partnered with the Latvian organization Tavi Draugi, and put in place infrastructure for refugees (hot meals, heating and mobile charging) at border crossings. Since this joint operation with Tavi Draug, a total of 32,736 people in need of assistance passed through 4 border crossings (Grebneva, Terehova, Silene, Vientuli).
According to the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as many as 90 percent of refugees crossing the borders of the Baltic States were headed further to Europe.
MEDEVAC HUB JASIONKA – MEDICAL TRANSIT CENTER NEAR RZESZOW
Norway, Sweden, Germany, or France – is where wounded and cancer patients from Ukraine go for treatment via a Medical Transit Center established next to the airport in Jasionka near Rzeszow. Appropriate facilities have been prepared for these patients, where the equipment is no different than that of traditional hospitals. Support is also provided by the professional staff from Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM. The patients can spend up to 48 hours in this facility before flying to a hospital in another European country.
Twenty separate spaces for patients are prepared in the “MEDEVAC HUB Jasionka”. In case of emergency, we can receive 40 patients at once. From the beginning of September to February, we admitted more than 500 patients and accompanying persons.
‘Such a person is pre-treated, secured and prepared for transport while still in Ukraine, and when they arrive here receive painkilling treatment, have time to recover and gain strength before the onward journey’, persuade Michal Polecki, nurse in the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM.
The Medical Hub in Jasionka near Rzeszow is funded by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and is part of a broader medical evacuation program for Ukrainian patients launched by the European Union and supported by the IOM, the World Health Organization and the Podkarpackie Voivodeship. It provides a safe space for patients arriving from Ukraine before flying to a hospital in another European country for treatment, and is part of a broader medical evacuation program for Ukrainian patients launched by the European Union.
The Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM is the first and only team in Poland and this part of Europe certified by the WHO as a so-called Type 1 Emergency Medical Team – EMT. It is one of seven in the world operating at non-governmental organizations.
EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE FROM UKRAINE IN POLAND
‘The program, “Cash for Work” or intervention employment program has become a long-term support for local governments, education departments, educational institutions and, most importantly, refugees from Ukraine in Poland. Due to it more than 1,500 people were able to start needed and valuable work, which gave them hope for a return to normalcy’, argued Alexandra Wojtaszek, coordinator of the “Cash for Work” program.
We have started the process of hiring Ukrainian teachers, psychologists and speech therapists as assistants in Polish schools. The program fosters adaptation and integration of children and adults, and is a great support for Polish staff. According to data from the Ministry of Education and Science, at the end of November 2022 there were more than 191,000 students enrolled in schools who arrived in Poland after February 24, 2022. In total, there are expected to be about 400,000-500,000 of them in Poland. More than 200,000 are pursuing remote learning, which is offered by the Ukrainian ministry.
The premise of the “Cash for Work” project was to relieve the burden on public institutions by seconding workers from Ukraine with specific qualifications. They provide help and support where the issue relates to a language barrier, trauma or an increased number of students. The goal of the program is also to help Ukrainians to become independent and for those who wanted to work in their profession, integrate into the labor market. Above all, however, to provide them with financial stability and independence from social assistance.
In 2022 PCPM established cooperation with 21 cities, employing 1,050 people as teacher’s assistance.
Most of the schools we have worked with since last March are still in our program. The people hired have become part of the school community, and their help and support is invaluable.
In total, the PCPM Foundation has hired 1,527 people in 23 cities.
The “Cash for Work” program is made possible through partnerships with CARE, IRC, Taiwan and Pfizer Foundation, mBank S.A and Google.org.
‘This job is the only reason I get up every morning; I didn’t even dream I could work with such creative people!’, Saied Masha 26, employed under the “Cash for Work” program.
The program is not just about schools. As many as seventy Ukrainian artists have found employment in Warsaw’s cultural institutions: theaters, museums, libraries and community centers. The project of intervention employment of refugee women and refugees from Ukraine was created thanks to the cooperation of the City of Warsaw and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“Cash for Work” in Ukraine means employment in local authorities
In the towns of Tsarychanki, Svitlovodsk, Krzemenchuk, Novi Sanzhar, Kobeliaki, Hradysk, or Biliki, which are in the Kharkiv, Poltava, Dniprovsk and Kirovohrad regions, we employed almost 560 people in 2022. This is important support for the employed and local governments, as in some localities in western Ukraine the population has increased by up to 90% as a result of internal migration. Those people fleeing the war have no chance for other employment in places where they find refuge. 74% of those employed are people who had to flee the eastern part of the country from the war. The work is being coordinated by local governments.
Aid payments helped Ukrainian refugees find their way in new place
Refugees from Ukraine often arrive in Poland with only small baggage and minimal financial resources. That’s why among our programs we offer financial aid or support with renting apartments.
We provided financial aid to 26,215 people. Depending on the program the family or individual received support for 3 or 6 months.
In total, we allocated more than PLN 50,000,000 to this program. In addition, together with UNHCR, we allocated an additional PLN 6,400,000 for the program. These sums were possible thanks to the financial support of international organizations: Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), CARE international, International Rescue Committee (IRC), UNHCR, Helpage International and the Taiwanese government.
Financial aid was paid under two programs – “Cash for basic needs” and “Targeted Cash Assistance Program.” They were based on transferring financial aid to refugee families via a pre-paid ATM card and were later available to Polish bank accounts of refugees.
Assistance was offered primarily to families meeting criteria related to special needs and experiencing difficulties in accessing the labor market.
Under “Cash for basic needs,” assistance was provided for three months and was based on the number of people in the family. A one-person family received PLN 710 per month, a two-person family PLN 1320, a three-person family PLN 1930 a four-person family or more PLN 2540. Program partners are: NRC, CARE International, UNHCR. The total amount provided was PLN 29,500,000 and was received by 18,721 people.
Within the framework of the “Targeted Cash Assistance Program” we offered financial assistance for 6 months, in the amount of monthly benefits amounted to PLN 710 per person. In total, thanks to IRC, CARE International, HelpAge International and the Taiwanese government, we provided PLN 32,500,000 to 7,656 people.
Educational Centers PCPM
‘We allocated a total of USD 18 million for education-related assistance in Poland’, emphasized Wojtek Wilk, PhD, President of the PCPM Foundation.
In Warsaw, we opened 2 facilities for children from Ukraine.
The Center for Education and Creativity was established in cooperation with mBank. Children, adolescents and single mothers in Poland can benefit from a range of artistic and therapeutic activities, including free assistance from a psychologist, speech therapist and defectologist. Approximately 4,000 people visit the facility every month.
In order for the children to get a sense of normality, we organized a youth camp “Summer in Poland with PCPM” for 3,000 refugee children during the summer. The camp was held in 10 Polish cities.
In cooperation with UNICEF, we set up a special hotline for parents to obtain information about their children’s education in Poland.
‘In September, an Education Center was established. It is used daily by 220 children from Ukraine, who in 11 classes study in the Ukrainian education system’, Kinga Gromala, director of the Education Center.
The PCPM Foundation, contacting Ukrainian parents and wanting to respond as good as possible to their needs, came to the conclusion that an educational facility was needed. It was possible to create such a place after several months of difficult preparations and solicitations of funds, because education there is free for Ukrainian children. Eventually, the PCPM Education Center in Warsaw was launched in October 2022, with the financial support of mBank and the Pfizer Foundation and CAF America (Charities Aid Foundation America). We opened the Education Center in the “Zebra Tower” office building in Warsaw. Significantly, the place also provides employment for Ukrainian teachers.
The Education Center provides quality learning, which is ensured by teachers selected through a meticulous recruitment process. It included more than 140 meetings with candidates, of which we selected 17 (teachers). Recruitment was conducted among people who arrived in Poland after 24.02.2022 and live in Warsaw. Teaching at the PCPM Education Center takes place stationary, on-site in Warsaw at Mokotowska Street. Therefore, there is no need for online lessons.
As part of our educational activities, we funded 25 scholarships for talented music academy students from Ukraine from cities such as Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson and Odessa.
Aid delivered to those places most in need
‘The biggest problem was finding a carrier that would agree to deliver the aid we wanted to provide. As time went by, more and more companies started going to Ukraine and we managed to solve this problem’, explain Roman Havrylyuk, PCPM Logistician.
Since the beginning of the war, PCPM has delivered more than 4,000 tons of supplies. Among them were necessities including food, hygiene products, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and thermal clothing. We provided significant support to hospitals, where we supplied ultrasounds, ECG machines, defibrillators, infusion pumps, blood pressure monitors, first aid kits and personal protective equipment.
The PCPM Foundation also provided tens of thousands of food parcels that went to the most needy persons. Each of them contained the most necessary products with a long expiry date, candles, batteries, flashlights, etc. These packages went to towns and villages all over Ukraine, including frontline areas. The PCPM Foundation reached devastated villages in the Kherson region and Kherson itself, which is near the front line, with aid. Food parcels also reached the Zaporizhia region, and we additionally supported local firefighters there, providing them with life-saving equipment. Ukrainian farmers received 4150 seed packets from the Foundation, so they could plant the crops they needed to survive. It was also a logistical challenge to deliver more than 80 couches to the transit point in Krzemenchuk, and 150 field beds to Nikolayev. These will serve people who are fleeing the fighting areas and residents who have lost their homes.
Support PCPM further aid to Ukraine
Despite 12 months of hard work to help the most needy people from Ukraine in Poland and those left behind in the war-torn country, the PCPM Foundation is still ready to bring effective aid. This will only be possible through further support of the organization’s activities. Aid to Ukraine can be supported by donations through pcpm.org.pl/ukraine.
Ескалація конфлікту в Україні, яка почалася 24 лютого 2022 року, призвела до величезної гуманітарної кризи, яка є найбільшим викликом в історії Фонду PCPM.
Щоб вийти з кризи, з кожним новим днем, тижнем і місяцем ми розширювали свою діяльність на нові сегменти допомоги. Від постачання найнеобхіднішого, комплексної допомоги українцям, які приїжджають до Польщі, через евакуацію цивільного населення та медичну евакуацію та підтримку українських лікарень, до програм адаптації біженців, підтримки системи освіти, фінансової допомоги чи інтервенційного працевлаштування переміщених осіб.
Вже в перший день конфлікту, 24 лютого 2022 року, ми запустили збір коштів на допомогу біженцям, як у Польщі, так і в Україні. В Україні під Кременчуком ми створили евакуаційний центр – пункт допомоги тим, хто намагається потрапити зі сходу на захід охопленої війною країни, а також до Польщі чи інших країн Євросоюзу. Центр надав безкоштовне проживання та харчування. Люди, які не могли чи не хотіли їхати далі, могли залишатися там довше. Щодня, щотижня ми запускали нові ініціативи, спрямовані на людей, які потребують допомоги, як-от Транзитний центр у Варшаві, проєкт «Cash for work», підтримка фінансовою допомогою та підтримка в оренді квартир. Ми відкрили два освітніх центри у Варшаві. У співпраці з ЮНІСЕФ ми створили спеціальну гарячу лінію, завдяки якій українські батьки та школи могли дізнатися все про навчання українських дітей у Польщі.
Безпосередньо біля аеропорту в Ясьонці біля Жешува ми запустили медичний транзитний центр MEDEVAC HUB. Поранених і важкохворих з України відправляють на лікування до країн Західної Європи. Допомога PCPM була і є можливою завдяки підтримці донорів. Як великих благодійних організацій, компаній, так і приватних осіб.