The Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced more than 14 million Ukrainians by mid-November, 2022, including almost 7 million within their own country and almost 8 million across Europe. In Poland, which hosts the single largest group, more than 1 million have applied for temporary residency, according to the United Nations’ High Commissioner of Refugees.
Thanks to the Polish ties of its founder Joanna Cutts, Ukraine Humanitarian Relief has determined to focus on addressing the urgent and sustained humanitarian needs of Ukrainians through a well-established Polish non-profit organization, KIK (pronounced “keek”) as its partner in the field. View this presentation to learn more about KIK's support after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. KIK works from Warsaw directly with Ukrainian organizations to provide aid not only to refugees, but to those on the front lines and in occupied territories where larger relief organizations have difficulty penetrating. KIK provides medical supplies and aid, food, shelter, and other immediate needs of Ukrainians displaced within their country in conflict-ridden areas. In Poland, KIK supports Ukrainian refugees in their efforts to rebuild their lives.
Founded in 1956 to foster a humane, democratic vision of society in what was then an East-Bloc country, KIK recommends itself not only because of its long engagement in the Ukraine, from the start of the conflict in 2014. KIK has also been at the forefront of providing aid to refugees from Africa and the Middle East who have been crossing Poland's northern and eastern borders to escape conflict and persecution in their home countries. KIK also supports education and support for at-risk groups inside Poland and fosters the development of civil society in neighboring Ukraine and Belarus.
In a piece for HURI, 'A Rake and a Rag: Fighting for People, Mending Broken Lives,' Ukraine Humanitarian Relief's founder Joanna Cutts shared her experiences helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland from June to October 2022.
Watch a trailer for a documentary on Joanna's work and find the full documentary following Joanna's 20 month journey as she tries to piece together the fractured lives of Ukrainian refugees in Poland and take a glimpse of the individuals, teachers, and families that she crossed paths with.
Projects in Need of Your Support:
Within Poland, KIK for Ukraine and Cogitania for Ukraine offer long-term support specifically for Ukrainian refugee children and youth, both in Ukraine and those who fled to Poland. Our aim is to strengthen social cohesion and integration of Ukrainian refugees with the Polish host community by fostering leadership, friendship, and cooperation between young people from both countries.
KIK’s 4 flagship projects embrace the idea of educating for peace, promoting cooperation and solidarity over competition:
1. Education: operating a Warsaw Ukrainian School for 270 Ukrainian children and providing workshops for dual curriculum teachers.
2. Integration and social cohesion: running bi-national summer and winter camps to build relationships between children and youth from Poland and Ukraine. Learn more about this program here.
3. Leadership: training future Polish - Ukrainian leaders; experiential learning in mixed groups to teach problem solving, peaceful conflict resolution and group integration skills.
4. Respite: providing opportunities for respite and recollection to children of Ukrainian soldiers who have fallen at war
Joanna’s special focus on goals 2 & 3 above resulted in a robust training offer:
⇨ Looking to the future: Youth Leadership Program
In our youth, we learn our roles in society. Hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainians* have fled to escape war or have had lives disrupted, many without one or both parents. Isolated, struggling among strangers, dealing with death of loved ones – yet this is the rising generation Ukraine will look to after the war with hope for renewal.
Joanna has taken a personal role and helped KIK design and launch a program in youth leadership. Experienced professionals guided an initial group recruited from among young Ukrainian and Polish volunteers. A course of experiential learning is bringing youth of both nationalities together to solve problems, learn to trust each other and form connections. These exercises are coupled with guided discussion, allowing participants to systematize what they have experienced and teach others in turn.
Since its inception, the program has evolved into a whole-year experience, where participants of the Youth Leadership Program catalyze social entrepreneurship in the larger circles of need, so that youth of both communities seize the opportunity to build peace proudly.
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