The situation in Krakow is changing fast, and the aid work is being handled by many local and international aid organisations. Several local organisations that normally do other tasks are now mobilizing to support in this acute crisis. There is a tremendous commitment from local residents who offer help, and the solidarity to Ukraine and the Ukrainians is very strong. Figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees can be found here.
A Drop in the Ocean assists where we can and where we are needed in this important work. The past week we have had a few volunteers with previous experience present in Krakow, Poland, including a Polish coordinator. During their first week they have mainly helped with sorting and distributing clothes, food and other equipment. Our team has also been set up in shifts for the distribution of soup, food and drink at the train station in Krakow where many people are waiting to continue their travel. This work has been a collaboration of several groups and individuals, including the local scout group. We have taken shifts during hours when they have asked for more to help.
This first week we have also mapped needs for our support along the border.
Going forward, we will focus on the collaboration with the fantastic organisation The Multicultural Center in Crakow (run by International Bund Polska), which is in the process of setting up a large “free shop” in the center of Krakow. This is very similar to the Drop Shop concept that we have established inside and outside several refugee camps in Greece. The shop will have distribution of clothes and shoes to those who have fled, as well as reception and storage for donated clothes. The plan is to open the shop by the end of this week.
Many want to help, both locally and from other countries, and it is touching to see the incredible commitment people show in this demanding situation. We all work around the clock now to get everything up and running fast , and our goal is to assist the local organizations in any way they wish. All funds received and earmarked for Ukraine will be used for supporting people fleeing from Ukraine, either directly by us or through our partners.
We ask for patience and understanding that it takes time to plan, to do necessary background checks and we don`t recommend that people travel on their own without acceptance of an organisation. Many people have expressed an interest in contributing. We will contact relevant candidates and ensure that we have sufficient number of volunteers and the right expertise in place in Krakow at all times. We also ask that clothes and equipment are not sent without a recipient who has requested it and who knows what is being sent.
We also like to emphasize that we will not forget the many thousands who still live in refugee camps in Greece and in Bosnia Herzegovina, and who have lived there for years. We will not abandon the responsibility we have towards the refugee camps we work in, and support and funds are still needed to continue these activities. See here for different ways if you like to support our work.