Assisting Families Fleeing from War in Ukraine

Compiled by the leadership of the Providence (Gondviselés) Charity Organization and the Cluj Refugee Task Force


From the onset of the war in Ukraine, the Hungarian Unitarian Church and Providence (Gondviselés), its charity organization, have responded to the needs of refugees and those internally displaced. Below we present the development of this charity work in recent weeks (17 April–28 May 2022). To read about previous efforts by Gondviselés (from the onset of the war until 17 April), please click here.

By 28 May 2022, the total amount raised for Ukraine relief - most of the funds coming from the UUA, the IWC, and other donors in the U. S. - has reached $125,000, an increase only of $13,000 from the month before. Nonetheless, Providence received a large number of in-kind donations consisting of hygiene and sanitary products, with an estimated value of $50,000.

Aid Shipment to Transcarpathia
On 17 May, a third humanitarian aid shipment was delivered to the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. This time, bishop István Kovács joined the transportation team. During the visit, he met with bishop Zán Fábián Sándor, the leader of the Transcarpathian Reformed (Calvinist) Church, the Right Hon. Lord Jim Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Pepijn Trapman, the leader of the Dutch Protestant Union. Bishop Kovács conveyed the Unitarian Church’s compassion towards the Ukrainian people and assured our partners in the Transcarpathia region that we would continue contributing to the healing of those in need. The new shipment, worth $14,500, contained non-perishable food, vitamins, sanitary and hygiene products, candles, flashlights and technical equipment. Please see a video of this effort here.

Ukraine Aid Shipment 2
A third shipment is scheduled for Odessa for mid-June, in collaboration with "Tasuleasa Social,” an NGO involved in organizing and implementing educational and environmental projects in Romania, and the German NGO "Die Johanniter.” This initiative will be the largest of its kind: food items, sanitary and hygiene products, medical equipment, mattresses, and technical equipment will be delivered to hospitals in Odessa and to a Humanitarian Center working with disabled children and adults. As was the case in the previous two shipments, the Ukrainian refugees hosted by the Unitarian Church in Kolozsvár/Cluj are playing a crucial role in organizing and delivering this shipment.

Ukraine Relief Shipment 3
Vladimir (in the middle), Ukrainian refugee hosted by the Kolozsvár/Cluj Unitarians, together with Gondviselés staff and volunteers.
The kindergarten class has been a great success; the children attending are developing nicely, and their parents are content. The parents have asked us to extend the program from 1 to 4 pm. In response to this request, we have purchased beds, mattresses, and bed linen so that the children will be able to take afternoon naps, just like the children in the Hungarian kindergarten group. For more information about the kindergarten class, please click here.

Camp for Ukrainian Children
Two dance groups have been created for Ukrainian children and are meeting three times a week. Their teacher is a Ukrainian refugee mother who used to run a dance club back home.

Ukraine Refugees Trip to Gorge

After almost three months of anxiety, stress, and worry about what the future might hold for them, the mental status of Ukrainian mothers and children has been deteriorating. They worry for their loved ones at home; their savings are drying up; local and international donations are fading; and the news from Ukraine is not encouraging either. To help them disconnect for a little while from all the worries and anxiety, we helped them go on a one-day trip, giving them the opportunity to go mountain climbing and enjoy a picnic together. They were very appreciative of the trip: it reminded them of their mountains back at home. One of the teenagers put together a short video for us as a sign of gratitude.

In June, we are starting an elementary class for children aged 6-7. This is a critical age: children are too old for kindergarten, but they cannot really learn how to read and write through online learning. A group of 20 children will attend classes 5 days a week, from 8:30 AM to 1 PM. The classes, led by two Ukrainian mothers/teachers, will cover reading and writing in Ukrainian, math, English, music, physical education, as well as arts and crafts.