February 24, 5 a.m. Five explosions signify the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Deeply stressed and scared, I take my three children and leave Kyiv the next day, with a desire to save our lives and, at the same time, help Ukrainians. My husband stays in Kyiv. Having no military experience, he is ready to join the territorial defense if called.
We dream to wake up and see the sunshine, but it is yet to happen.
I constantly check the news.
After hearing stories of people who have stayed in Kyiv, I help and support most of them in leaving the capital or moving abroad.
Tanks are shooting at residential buildings and are running over civilian cars and kids’ playgrounds. Subway stations are serving as bomb shelters—animals, children and people of all ages have started living and hiding there. There are checkpoints on each big intersection with people protecting their capital. Several bridges near Kyiv are blown up so the Russian tanks cannot enter the city. Huge traffic jams clutter Kyiv in between the curfews. People are escaping death, leaving their homes behind, hoping for the best. Kilometers of car lines to get gas that becomes hugely expensive, but nobody cares because people are saving their lives.
You can see the rest yourself on TV every day. Unfortunately, this has become an everyday nightmare for Ukrainians now. We dream to wake up and see the sunshine, but it is yet to happen.
Through WhatsApp and Facebook, Lions connect and take action
Since day one of the war, I keep receiving messages from friends, clients and Lions club members checking on what is happening and how they can help. I connect with them in Whatsapp groups to give them true information, activate fundraising and spread the news about supporting Ukrainians. This service brings back my direction of life.
We are expressing the most cordial gratitude to Lions and Lions clubs: Leonardo and Lions members from Livorno, Ellenor Palmer Dartford from Lions Club, Kent, UK; Lions Clubs District 124 Romania; Portuguese Lions; District 108 Ib2w Italy; Lions Club Garfagnana, George Lakkotrypis, the president of Lions Club Larnaca in Cyprus for their special food-collecting campaign; Wexford Lions Club, Pontremoli-Lunigiana Lions Club. Lions of Poland are graciously helping the lucky refugees who fled the country with Vice District Governor Hanna Sobiech, District 121 Poland actively involved.
I got Lions reporting from Cyprus, Ireland, Helsinki, Finlandia, India, the USA, Brazil and Canada about their fundraising campaigns and donations to LCIF, as well as directly to Polish D121.
Bernd Hildebrandt, Lions Club Potsdam and Uli, Lions Club Hessen have suggested organizing the hosting of refugee families in their hometowns in Germany. Lions from Edmonton, Canada are finding accommodations for displaced persons arriving there.
Our Whatsapp group helps unite German Lions clubs from Sudharz District 111 and Alters Schloss Stuttgart in their common effort to fundraise, then purchase and deliver medical supplies to our storage in Krakow so that we can distribute them directly to hospitals named by our Kyiv Lions Club.
Leonardo, from Livorno Lions club, has announced raising 2,000 euros as well as organizing an illusionists show in April to raise money to help Ukrainian refugees.
Active Lions from LC Göppingen in District SM 111 donate a considerable amount, followed by Jurgen Kassel, Lions club president of Waiblingen, Germany, who reports sending 20,000 euros to Stiftung der Deutsche Lions, Frankfurter Volksbank to join medicine collection to Ukrainian hospitals named by Kyiv Lions Club.
Special thanks to Arthie from the Netherlands, a charity supporter and fan of Ukraine, for collecting and donating a huge volume of food and clothing, as well as to Stephan Schultes from Lions Club Schrobenhausen Aichach for shipping medicine to our warehouse.
Our Facebook page post about collecting the necessary medicine has attracted Malgorzata and Richard Myers from Hampshire, UK. They gathered their business connections and purchased and donated two vehicles that they converted into medical support units and supplied them with medical kits and supplies to serve in the front-line defense.
On March 17, Andy de Schipper delivered the first load of humanitarian aid worth around 35,000 euros collected by Dutch Lions. Pierre Sleiman, the president of Kyiv Lions Club, is currently near Krakow at one of the Reakiro warehouses kindly offered by Lion Stewart MacKenzie to facilitate the receipt and manage the distribution of humanitarian help. Other Kyiv Lions Club members are helping the displaced inside Ukraine with medical supplies and food items, contacting hospitals, making lists of necessary medicine, conducting fundraising campaigns and helping Lion Pierre with administration. We ask Lions clubs to continue sending medicine, food and life-saving items that we can give directly to the people.
Thank you, all the Lions involved! Your noble gesture will go far in history, defining the kind of people you are.
Learn more about how Lions are responding to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and how you can help.
Lion Natalie Koval is the secretary of the Kyiv Lions Club in Ukraine.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted communities around the world in different ways. To ensure we’re serving safely wherever we live, Lions should follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization or local health authorities. Visit our Serving Safely page for resources that can help you safely serve your community.