This is my final fundraising push! War is hell but here's the good news:
Kharkiv Street Kitchen Update
As rocket strikes intensify in Kharkiv, the work Nadiia and her team of volunteers are doing to keep people fed becomes more challenging and more heroic. We speak on a regular basis and I've been trying to help make connections for safe supply lines of food from other parts of the country, with limited success.
As I start speaking at foodtech conferences (my "day job" is strongly connected to the future of food industry) in the May conference season, I will be fundraising using this video filmed by Nadiia and put together by my friend Florentine. We've funded them with $7,000 to-date and I'm well on the way to helping them find an additional $10,000 by end of May through connecting them directly to donors. (Update: one donor just gave $14,000 for Kharkiv Street Kitchen today so I will have to get more ambitious with that target :))
Medications and Medical Supplies
We are continuing to supply a steady stream of medication to the Territorial Defense Force. We are buying them at deep discounts through Austrian pharmacist Klaus who has negotiated on our behalf with drug companies. We are getting donations, especially from Canada, and I am on an "expired medications safari" across Austria and Germany trying to find pharmacies and health clinics that will give me their expired meds, which are requested on the front line while the "new" stuff goes to hospitals.
Here's how it works. From me to Kharkiv hospitals only takes a few days:
I gather boxes that I have had delivered, or that I pick up from drug companies, pharmacies, health clinics
I deliver them to a Territorial Defense Force soldier's apartment, where her mother--a retired Ukrainian doctor--sorts and re-boxes them
Territorial Defense Force soliders move them through to hotspots -- in our chain, usually to Kharkiv
Our meds arrive safely in the hands of doctors at a Kharkiv hospital
Needed: if you can find expired medication or stuff that can be donated through pharmacies, hospital, doctors' offices in Canada or Europe, please contact me at rglittle -at- gmail.com.
From Canada I can get them customs-cleared and delivered straight to one of our army contacts in Poland; for Europe I will either pick them up myself or have them delivered to me here in Vienna. There are still entire Territorial Defense Units fighting with the most basic first aid kits and painkillers--there is a critical shortage. Everything is needed but here's a great list of meds we've been buying, for orientation:
Update: I just asked a front line medic for additional/timely requests, and this is what was sent back. Sorry if any translations are imperfect and for overlap. Please use this list in conjunction with above file.
Vienna Mission 4 Ukraine (VM4U) Update
VM4U has been gaining some momentum on fundraising, although we remain still the largest single source of funds. Evacuation buses from the Ternopil rallying point continue to take place, like this one last week which we funded:
Loading In Ternopil
Mission Live Tracking
Safely arrived in Vienna
Yesterday my new pal Sven from the UN and I had a 15-hour cross-country day on behalf of VM4U, filling a massive van with furniture from a ski lodge in the Alps and driving it to the volunteer-led refugee center in Vienna we are doing our best to help build. Campus Wienerwald has 200 people living in it right now and we are trying to get it ready for the next 100.
VM4U is 200 expats in Vienna, all volunteers, many of whom are connected to the UN's International Energy Agency and the Vienna Airport. The whole thing was kicked off by Adam, from the USA, seen here unloading the van Thunderbird 2 an hour ago:
There is a great nonprofit in Vienna that called Yep Austria that works to engage and give a voice to youth, especially youth who might otherwise lack opportunity. I've helped them in the past with some strategy work and approached their founder Rebekka to suggest they create a program run by Ukrainian refugees, for Ukrainian refugees, using the Yep Austria methodology.
We have seed funded $7,000 to bring together refugees from the 2015 crisis who fled as unaccompanied minors and who will serve as advisors ("what do you wish would have been in place when you arrived back then?") and to avoid the same mistakes from then, like the lack of psycho-social support and poor integration into schools. These mostly Middle-Eastern refugees, now 5+ years older, feel very empowered that they can support young refugees in this new crisis, as they are truly the experts on what is needed. They, together with teachers and youth from Ukraine and Austria, and reps from humanitarian agencies, will design programs and share best practices for youth refugee integration.
Futurestars Football Club -- Pro Edition
Last Tuesday Steve called me from Budapest: "I have these three Nigerian guys who are pro football players in Ukraine staying at the shelter. What can we do?" I reached out to my Vienna network and Tini wrote back: "Get them to Vienna for tryouts, Sportclub Wiener Viktoria, Thursday 6:30 PM." So, that's what we did! Steve brought them by train from Budapest, we got them set up for the first tryout for this pro team, and they are here currently staying with Elisabetta, one of the organizers of the Ternopil evacuation missions, seen below taking them out for pizza last night. Today they'll go for a tour of Vienna (their new city, if they make the cut!) and tomorrow, more tryouts.
New Wheels -- My Own Van
We've bought vans for the Territorial Defense Force and for a humanitarian aid organization and, from my part and for groups like VM4U, we've been relying on borrowing from people and companies. As we hit month two, however, and the hours and kilometers pile up, these are getting more and more scarce and we find ourselves spending time that could be used better trying to arrange wheels. So, in case the Passat station wagon wasn't cool enough already, check out this baby, a Ford Transit. This $11,000 beauty has been very generously sponsored in full by my family and my pal Tommy R in Vienna. I hope to buy it tomorrow and get it on the road this week, and will set up a Google calendar to share it with my trusted organizations and volunteers when they need cargo capacity.
I will use it for my "expired meds safari" as well as to do a couple of solo supply runs of gear for women and children in volunteer-run Polish shelters we are supporting, like this one.
A Shout Out from Germany's Chancellor
Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz recorded this little note for us as supporters of Alliance4Ukraine (I am a founding member). "Together we are firmly convinced that what distinguishes democracies and gives them strength is the creative power of their citizens." He highlights the values of Alliance4Ukraine – compassion, humanity, and solidarity – which are central to our work.
Money & Next Steps
All figures 🇨🇦. To-date $122,000 received of which $100,000 spent and $13,000 committed.
You have all been so generous in these last two months, and made all of this possible. This is my last call for funds so if you can, please make one last contribution. I will use these funds in the next few weeks to:
Do solo supply runs in the new van of essentials like food, diapers, drugstore stuff for shelters we are supporting in Poland, Hungary, Austria
Buy meds at a discount plus drive around Austria and Germany with the new van to pick up expired meds from healthcare providers, and deliver to Territorial Defense Force
If possible, fund one more bus evacuation mission from Ternopil
As always, and this one very last time, please sponsor this work through interac e-transfer or paypal to rglittle -at- gmail.com
Thank you especially today to the friends of friends who have donated. I don't have your email addresses through the interac e-transfers so please everyone be sure to share these updates to people you have been in touch with and express my very deep gratitude. 🙏🏻
Bonus Material :)
Early on, it was brought to my attention by some people in Kharkiv that many of the zookeepers at the Kharkiv Zoo moved into the zoo to keep animals fed and as safe as possible during the heavy bombing, and are succeeding in shifting the animals westwards. I contributed $2,500 directly to them. Here is a video that went viral about their efforts and got picked up by news around the world, and even on Stephen Colbert's Late Show monologue.
This is a Ukrainian travel blogger in Kyiv who has turned his channel into a platform for talking about the war. I really liked this bit about what volunteers are doing and these people he features are a lot like the people I am dealing with every day. People like you and me but whose lives were totally upended two months ago.
This very sweet note from Olga -- you might remember her and her daughter Anastasia from my first blog post. Beautiful moments of humanity like this keep you going when you feel like you hit the wall.
Slava Ukraini. 🇺🇦