For mothers from Ukraine
Updated: May 30
I see mothers walking with their kids hand in hand. Mothers carrying babies. Mothers hugging their toddlers crying. Mothers kissing their husbands good bye. I see them, and I see myself in every one of them. I see my kids in those kids. I see Robin in their husbands.
Cause really what's the difference between those mothers and myself? Other than the fact that I was born in Poland, 300-400 kilometers more to the West in Europe? Nothing.
The night before we drove back from my hometown to Amsterdam, February 26th, my mother came to me asking 'Kasia, if things go bad, would you be ok that I send your brother to you?'. And I broke down.
Stories of my grandparents came to me all at once. My grandma sharing how she was hiding away from Russian soldiers when they entered the country during the World War II. My other grandma sharing how she was lucky to avoid a train to Auschwitz, running away through forests and fields at night from a village that German soldiers came to occupy that day. My grandpa talking to me and my cousin in Hebrew when playing with us. He grew up on a street with all Jewish families, so he knew the language but he didn't have anyone to speak it to after the war, so he talked to us.
So yes, I want to help. To help those who stayed behind. To help those who left to save themselves, their kids, their parents, leaving often their partners and brothers behind. We are all the same.
And I am super grateful for YOU!
What we did so far
Between February 26th and today you helped me collect 18,443 EUR that were all spent on goods for Ukrainian families in Ukraine and for refugees that came to Poland.
23,116EUR, that's huge! Thank YOU!!
We bought together baby products, thermal underwear for soldiers, baby food, medical supplies, baby milk, but also a water pump that allows clean the water and make it suitable for drinking again, and additional equipment to help fix the water systems in the cities that were destroyed in the fights.
We also collected goods in Amsterdam and sent it to my hometown, and from there to Ukraine. My daughter's school supported collection of the goods. My daughter and her 4-year-old-friend, together with older kids from the school helped with packing everything on the van. My fellow parent from the school, Menno Kohler, drove the van from Amsterdam to Poland to bring everything in time for those who needed it. And by now he did it twice! Including a trip to a hospital in Lvov Ukraine itself!
And we organized donation based events as well. Little Makers Amsterdam joined with a toddler art class. Studio Balance joined with a kids dance class, and my own yoga class. DAY Collective organized an art workshop for school kids.
And more is to be planned.
Below I added a story, week by week, truck by truck, event by event. Because I am absolutely amazed by how much we did together!
I promised to continue doing what I'm doing for as long as there are people who like to join me. So I will be also sharing here the latest Tikkie link for donations, and the latest events that are coming up. And if none of that is feasible for you to join, but you still like to support Ukraine with us, send me a message and we figure it out. We can always use my parents' address, where you can order goods, and my dad brings it to the donation place in time for the next truck to leave to Ukraine. We did that with a friend from Argentina too :)
Current initiatives for Ukraine
We collect money to purchase food, medical supplies, hygiene products, diapers, baby care but also underwear and socks for soldiers, power generators, or equipment that helps to fix water systems in the cities that were bombed. Whatever is needed at the moment when we can send some help.
You can donate by using the Tikkie link here:
Current state of Tikkie left for spending (as per May 30th 2022): 12 EUR
Goal for the next transport:
goods: food, hygiene products, meds
transport type: add to a full sized truck
when: targeting for June 20th transport
from where to where: leaving from my hometown in Poland to Lubny in Ukraine, and from there to Kharkiv and beyond
Direct help to Ukrainian families - OstoJa Rodzina in Skierniewice, Poland
OstoJa Rodzina is an initiative started by Michal Pilaszek, a vegan chef who cares. Originally from Warsaw, spent last few years travelling in Asia with his wife, now back in Poland where they live with their two sons, 6 and 1 years old.
When the war started Michal got involved in helping Ukrainians in any ways he could. And he managed something really cool! He convinced owners of an old historic building in my hometown to dedicate the building to Ukrainian families after the renovation. A beautiful house, with a huge garden, next to our local park where up to 70 people may find their home.
Michal is doing all by himself, from scratching the floors, painting the walls, picking up goods that people donate to the house. All from A to Z. So no wonder I would love to help them if we can.
I created a Tikkie for them which will be used to purchase petrol so they can pick up the goods from Warsaw and cities around, to purchase paint, and building materials, to fix electricity and water system in the house. The needs are big, but not impossible to meet, and I believe that with our help, they can finish it really quick, so the families which are now located in the temporary housing can find their safe place there.
We are looking for companies in Europe that can support us with collecting:
food supplies - canned food, pasta, rice, baby food - all with long lasting due dates, and that can be transported into Ukraine, and ideally easily prepared (not all regions have access to water and electricity anymore)
hygiene products for adults and kids
new clothes, incl. especially underwear, socks and shoes that are most of the time not available in good condition or sufficient amounts from usual goods donations
If you can help, or you know someone who can, please connect them with me directly: phone +31642287691, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like to see an example of what's possible, scroll down to May 25th sub chapter and read about 1,75 tones of Barilla food arriving in Bucha! 1,75 tones!
With the trust and professionalism I found in Lilya's transport company that delivered Barilla goods from Italy to Ukraine, and with Tanya's dedication and speedy reactions at every time of the day, I do not see a reason why we couldn't do it again.
Donation based events
At the moment there is no exact donation based events planned. I will publish details here when we have it all set.
If you have an idea for an event which you like us to help organize, please contact me at email@example.com, and we make a plan :)
How it started - February 26th-28th | 1st truck
February 24th was full of mixed feelings. We were in Slovakia that day. My daughter learned how to ski, and was going down the piste full of confidence with a big smile on her face, asking for more. The sun was shining. My kids were playing with my parents, as we were all together that day. A beautiful day, and yet one of the most heaviest days of the past years.
February 26th we found ourselves in my hometown in Poland. We were supposed to drive back to Amsterdam that day, but everyone was sad, tired, and a bit absent. So we stayed a day longer. I learned about the donations for Ukraine that started in my hometown that day, my best friend from high school sent an email about it over night. I thought I go and buy some essential goods and bring it to the collection place. After all I was there, so it just required a quick run to a shop. Then I thought that maybe there are more friends from Amsterdam who would like to use me so I can do it on their behalf.
I dropped a message in two whatsapp groups saying that I'm in Poland, about to go shopping for Ukraine donations around 3pm, so if anyone likes to join me they can let me know and I can get some things on their behalf. One of the girls from the whatsapp group suggested to make a Tikkie, so I did. Suddenly I had 500EUR on my bank account, and the money kept on coming.
I found a connection to a lady who was coordinating all the donations from my hometown. I wanted to know what it is that they need, and they miss, cause with that amount of money, I better but what's actually needed. She asked for baby goods: beds, mattresses, covers, blankets, baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers, food. All shops with those kind of goods were closed so she organized that one of the shops would open for us.
I drove there with Robin in a van of my dad. At that time we had 1500 EUR on my bank account. We bought all the beds and mattresses that refugee kids could use. Bottles, pacifiers, blankets, covers and more. We thought we were done, and we can go to drop it off at the collection place, but people still asked if they can join us with sending the money. So we said yes, and went to Lidl supermarket to buy diapers and baby food. The money kept on coming, so we went to another supermarket to add more diapers, more food, and more hygiene products for women and kids. After that our van was full. We drove to the collection place and when I told the man helping with unloading to be careful when opening the doors, a pile of diapers fell on him ;-)
We thought we were done. We went back to my parents house to pack, cause the day after we were driving back to Amsterdam. And then I discovered 600EUR on my bank account from one transfer. I called the lady again, and learned that the truck to Ukraine leaves Monday. I asked my parents if they are ok to finish what we had started. This way we continued collecting the money when already driving back to Amsterdam, and Monday morning my parents went to buy thermal underwear for the soldiers - another request from our Ukrainian partner city.
That first weekend we collected 4,248EUR via Tikkie and bank transfers. That amount was doubled by a philanthropist living in US, who learned about the donations from my best friend from high school, which means that every single EUR donated that weekend counted double. Every single EUR was spent on goods that were requested by our sister city in Ukraine, Lubny (between Kyiv and Eastern border of Ukraine). All was bought by myself and Robin, and later by my parents. And with the help of our hometown, it was safely delivered deep into Ukraine.
March 1st till March 7th | 2nd truck
We were already in Amsterdam. I couldn't stop thinking about those women and kids, families broken down from Ukraine. I texted the lady from my hometown if they are planning to send the next truck to Ukraine. She said yes, and that this time they need baby food. "Kasia, those babies cry from hunger there".
It was Tuesday 7pm when I dropped another message in whatsapp and on Instagram that we are collecting for baby food that would go on a truck that week into Ukraine. Wednesday morning we had 3000EUR to spent. My parents went to a shop, but they were not really helped to spend such a big amount of money for baby food. So we asked a lady from donations to help us out. She organized volunteers to support my parents, and we were ready. Or at least we thought we were ready.
By Thursday morning, March 3rd, we had another 3000 EUR to spend. We decided to buy medical supplies for that: anti-bleeding bands, plasters, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, antipyretics and more.
All those goods were sent on a truck directly to Lubny in Ukraine, Monday evening, March 7th. The drivers made it quick and safe again. Here a movie including details shared by the Ukrainian officials about the help they received.
March 7th till March 14th - Collection of goods at 2de Openluchtschool Amsterdam | 3rd truck
Together with a fellow dad from Lily's school, Menno Kohler, we organized collection of goods for Ukraine and for the refugees in Poland. All goods were brought to the school, which was extremely convenient for all the parents to support. We had a truck and a driver, but last minute the driver got covid. Menno decided that in this case, he would drive himself. And he did.
We packed all the goods on his van with help of older kids from the school, my 5 year old daughter, and her 4 year old Ukrainian friend. And it was beautiful. Joanna, a mom of Lilia from a parallel class to Lily, took beautiful pictures from this event. My heart triples every time I look at the smiles of those kids, being busy with rearranging the goods, packing into the bags and boxes, and then carrying everything into the van. And asking how they can help more.
Monday morning, March 14th, all the students from the older classes were waving at Menno driving away from Amsterdam to my hometown in Poland, where he would bring the donations for further distribution to refugees and to Ukrainian families. Menno made a little movie from his first trip, and just shared in on YouTube as well.
March 13th - Donation Event at Little Makers | 3rd truck
Little Makers in Amsterdam wanted to join us with supporting Ukraine families. And they did amazing!
They not only organized a donation based event (they turned one of their regular classes into a class from which all revenue went to Ukraine).
But they also offered their place to collect goods for Ukraine. Lots of baby products, food, hygiene products, clothes which found its way to Ukraine via Poland, driven by Menno Kohler a day after, March 14th, from Lily's school to our hometown in Poland.
All photos by Joanna Janczak
March 14th till March 24th | 3rd truck
I kept on collecting money via Tikkie and bank transfers so we can add also towards the 3rd truck with purchase of goods that were needed the most. This time we were asked to buy baby milk and equipment to help with fixing water systems in Ukraine. Baby milk for all the babies that were born during the war. And all technical stuff to fix the water, as simply in many cities people struggled to find water suitable for drinking.
So we did exactly that. We purchased baby milk for 2000EUR (1092 boxes to be exact), and for the remaining 1,891 EUR we bought a water pump to change dirty water into water suitable for drinking, plus additional equipment helping with fixing the water systems in Ukraine.
The truck left from my hometown Thursday, March 24th. By Friday the Polish driver arrived in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian driver took over. Saturday, March 26th, before noon, all goods were safely delivered in Lubny in Ukraine.
March 20th and April 3rd - Donation Events at Studio Balance | 4th truck
In March and April we also organized two donation events at Studio Balance in Amsterdam. March 20th, Roos-Anne from Studio Balance gave a Kids Dance class from which all donations were shared to support Ukraine in the same way as we did before. And April 3rd, I gave a Women's Health Yoga class with the same goal.
Together we collected here 485EUR which will be used for purchase of goods for the fourth transport into Ukraine. At the moment we got a list of goods required as: food, drinks, hygiene products, medical supplies, but also socks and underwear for soldiers and power generators. Depending on the total amount collected together with the latest Tikkie, we will see how much we are able to support this time.
Thank you already for joining in!
April 1st till April 11th - Collection of goods at Hurley and at 2de Openluchtschool Amsterdam | refugees in Poland & direct transport to Lvov, Ukraine
April 9th, Saturday, we finalized the second goods collection in Amsterdam that Menno Kohler transported himself to Poland first, and then the second part directly to Ukraine, to a hospital in Lvov.
We were able to collect a large amount of medications that were requested by a hospital in Lvov, where Menno drove directly himself. Thanks to additional donations we willed up the van with food, hygiene products, diapers, baby care, but also school supplies for Ukrainian kids that joined the schools in Poland, clothes, blankets, baby strollers and more.
It was again an initiative organized by parents of 2de Openluchtschool where we involved our kids to either help us with organizing the donations, sorting and packing everything on the van as well.
April 13th - Donation Event at DAY Collective | 5th truck
Stories of Matter - the world of imagination, forms, colors and tactility. A workshop organized by Yulia and Dorota from DAY Collective for a group of kids 5-6 years old. A beautiful combination or art, mindfulness, meditation and playfulness.
What happened in words:
During this 1 hour meeting we will make a journey where we observe, imagine and create our own Story of Matter. Together we take a walk around the space filled with soft creatures. And we'll talk about them, as well as the drawings on the walls. What do we see and what do we feel? After a meditative visualization with closed eyes each of us will draw their own Story of Matter.
What happened in pictures:
May 4th - Direct help to Ukrainians arriving in Warsaw
Wednesday, May 4th, I visited Front Pomocy Ukrainie - a volunteering organization in Warsaw at Warsaw Western Train Station, helping Ukrainians arriving and staying in Warsaw by providing essential goods for living - food, drinks, hygiene products, sleeping bags/blankets, temporary place to stay.
Thanks to your support I collected money for the most essential goods they needed at the moment, went to Makro in Warsaw, purchased goods for the amount of 616 EUR and delivered it back to the station 2 hours later. What we had on the list that day was: water, small juice for kids, hygiene products for women, diapers, baby food in squeezy and in glass containers, sweets for kids, garbage bags 240l, gloves for volunteers, and more..
The team at the train station has been doing amazing job since the very beginning of the war with Ukraine, and can use all the help needed. If you happen to be in Warsaw, you can find them at Dworzec Zachodni in the white tent. They will welcome you with a smile :)
May 5th - Direct help to Ukrainians in Skierniewice
When I was in my hometown during Lily's school holidays, I visited a few places where refugees are staying there. One of the buildings is an old orphanage, that was supposed to be renovated, but then the war with Ukraine started, and it was decided to place some of the families there that would stay longer in our town. Kids joined already schools and daycares, and moms started jobs as well.
The building is spacious, and next to it there is a big garden with an old soccer field, and a mini playground. Yet, I haven't seen any kids playing outside. So I thought we may help to change that as well, by buying some toys for the kids to play outside: soccer balls, badminton etc.
Within 3 days we collected an amount of over 600 EUR, for which we managed to buy not only toys for kids, but also some nice cosmetics for moms and grandmas that are not on the essential goods list, yet every woman likes to have around: face cream, hand cream, conditioner etc.
Monday, May 2nd, I went shopping with Lily - the best assistant one can have to buy kids toys :) And Thursday, May 5th, we delivered everything with Lily and Miko to families living there.
May 16th - Over 2000EUR worth goods on a truck to Ukraine, Lubny
After a longer break in transports to Ukraine, we had a chance to contribute to a truck that left May 16th to our partner city in Ukraine, Lubny, from where the goods were redistributed to people who arrived to Lubny from the territories occupied by Russian army, and brought also directly to Kharkiv and villages around.
We were asked to purchase food, but also shoes and underwear for the ones who left their homes with as little as a backpack, and had nothing when arriving in Lubny. I was able to buy shoes myself in one of the local shops in my hometown that has been helping us with low margin goods for Ukraine.
A total amount that we managed to collect for this transport was 2,210 EUR. Thank you!!!
May 25th - 1,75 tones of food shipped from Italy to Bucha
My dad often says 'If you don't ask, you will never know'. So I often ask. Around Easter time I asked a friend of a friend if his company couldn't support us with providing food to Ukraine, and Wednesday, March 25th a total of 1,75 tones of food arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, from where it was be redistributed to Bucha and villages around. 1,75 tones of pasta and bakery products! It's a lot!
It wasn't an easy one to arrange, but we did it. I had to ask a few more times before I found Lilya who helped with the transport from Italy to Kyiv, and before I found Tanya who helped with organizing documents and pick up in Ukraine, but we managed!
1,75 tones of food. I still cannot believe it all worked out so well. Thank you all beautiful people who helped through this process!
And for those who like to organize a similar action - let me know! Would your company be willing to donate goods needed in Ukraine right now: food, hygiene products, baby products, meds.. They still need it all. I wish they didn't but they do..
And with the trust and professionalism I found in Lilya's transport company, and Tanya's dedication and speedy reactions at every time of the day, I do not see a reason why we couldn't do it again.
Link to Tanya's original post here.