So many readers have asked us to do something. To save lives, to donate shelter and relief, to offer a first concrete help. And to give a sign of closeness to the people of war-torn Ukraine. So in February, during the most dramatic days of the conflict, we started a fund-raising campaign. In just a few weeks, thousands of donations arrived: this is how we are using them.
In Cernivci, Ukraine, we have built a village where every day we host 1,800 people: families who have lost everything because of the bombs, to whom we offer immediate shelter and a hot meal. The centre offers 1500 square metres covered by tensile structures with clinics, kitchens, canteen, play area for children, camp beds for sleeping. It is called “Villaggio Specchio d’Italia”, named after our sister non-profit organisation, Specchio d’Italia, and is located 30 km from the Romanian border. An indispensable project, because more and more people do not want to leave their homes. Not only that: hundreds of refugees welcomed in Italy in the first weeks are now asking to return to Ukraine, to the areas of the country where they can finally live in safety. This is why we have activated a free shuttle service to facilitate repatriation.
In the first phase of the emergency we sent dozens of shuttles, buses and trucks loaded with food and medicines from our Turin office. They reached the border with Poland and Romania and then came back to Italy, bringing families fleeing the violence. In this way we rescued over 600 people and delivered hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid. In the province of Cuneo and in Turin we have set up several collection centres, where citizens and businesses can continue to donate basic necessities that are delivered directly by our vans.
A telephone line was also set up in Turin for the displaced people welcomed in Piedmont. In cooperation with the volunteers of the Ukrainian Consulate, we distributed 1,000 financial aid packages of 500 euro each. For single women and their children, we have developed an assistance and integration programme called “Forza Mamme Ucraine“, which follows the model of a similar experience we have been carrying out for years in Turin. We offer sports courses, playtime and visits in and around the city.
These initiatives are carried out in synergy with the Piedmont Region, which has entrusted us with the task of coordinating fundraising and the development of solidarity projects for displaced persons.