When the war in Ukraine broke out at the end of February 2022, A Drop in the Ocean had people on the ground in Poland within 4 days. Among these was our Polish coordinator, Michalina who was transferred from our work in Bosnia Herzegovina. Together with the Internationaler Bund Polska, we were able to open Krakow’s largest free shop for people who had fled Ukraine “Szafa Dobra” in just 15 days. In the first months we had an average of 1000 visitors every single day, where people could come and pick up clothes and shoes that they needed. All the clothes we distributed came as donations from the local community in Krakow and directly from manufacturers.
Over the summer, we saw that the needs somewhat changed . Fewer people needed to replenish their wardrobe, but there began to be a growing need for language skills. This is exactly the same thing we also see where we work with people forced to flee in Greece and Bosnia Herzegovina. In early August, A Drop in the Ocean began implementing programs designed to address the longer-term needs of those who had fled from Ukraine to Poland. Informal English lessons as well as a sports program for children were initiated.
In October, Drops also started assisting with volunteers at a distribution center for food and hygiene products that our partner organization had already started. In December 2022, entering our tenth month of operation in Poland, we again adapted to changing needs by preparing pallets of clothes to send to organizations near the border, and directly into Ukraine, in addition to operating the free shop and English classes.
- Since we started the project in march 2022 we have had 93,219 visitors in our FreeShop.
- 86,705 people came for clothes and shoes distribution, 3317 for hygiene distribution and 3197 for food distribution.
- We distributed 656,661 clothing items, 2324 food packs, 1567 hygiene packs and 453 baby packs.
- In our English classes we have had a total of 679 visitors.
In the last year, we have had more than 200 volunteers from all over the world in Poland, all united by Drops vision to contribute together to a world where everyone is met with respect and human rights are valued.
A time for everything
But at the end of March, the time has come to hand over the work to our partner organisation. A handover of the project is already well under way to ensure that the users of the services will not be affected by the changes. We are completely confident that Maria and her team at Internationaler Bund Polska will continue the work we have built together in a good way.
We would like to thank all volunteers, coordinators and supporters for the fantastic efforts they have made in the past year. You have made a big difference in many people’s lives.