Banned from Russia, Auckland adviser helps send aid to Ukraine
As aid to Ukraine continues to pour in from around the world, a group of East Aucklanders have come together to help prepare vulnerable people in Ukraine for the coming winter.
In three months, the Ukrainian people will experience the coldest months as well as nine months of invasion by Russia.
January to March are the coldest months of the year for the beleaguered European country.
The invasion created the largest post-war refugee crisis in Europe. According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 7.1 million people are believed to be internally displaced in Ukrainian homes and more than 8.7 million have so far crossed the border from Ukraine. ‘Ukraine.
In July, the Russian Foreign Ministry published a list of 32 New Zealanders banned from entering the country. Among them was Howick ward councilor Sharon Stewart.
Initially baffled, Stewart now believes the move was because she and her local community helped deliver aid to Ukraine.
It all started with a March visit to his dentist, who happens to be from Ukraine. When Stewart heard firsthand about the plight of Ukrainians, it led to a local sewing group lending a hand and soon a supply of knitted woolens was bound for Ukraine.
Bev Telfer, coordinator of the Highland Park sewing group, told 1News she was buoyed by Stewart’s enthusiasm.
It started with making Ukrainian flags to sell at Howick Market so locals could show their support.
“We thought about how else we could help, and that was to make baby clothes and it snowballed from there,” Telfer said.
“Our group is about 25 to 30 people who meet every Thursday and they’re all women who have retired and want to help the community,” Telfer said.
A group of avid knitters then rushed to get to work, as the local Facebook Vineyard learned of the initiative.
The first container load was sent in early April, the second in July and the third is now two weeks away, bound for Poland.
Valeriy Boyko, a friend of Stewart, who works in procurement and logistics, organizes and tracks the shipment with his wife, Elena, where they will help unload the container and sort the items for distribution in the central and western from Ukraine.
He acknowledged the resources donated by the community, including a Takapuna-based freight forwarder, Oceanbridge Shipping.
“Owner Bill Speedy and his team have given so much time and resources that they are truly behind this initiative.
“We have had freight charges waived for supplies sent from Auckland to Poland, as well as customs clearance fees on both sides,” Boyko said.
He said he was very grateful to the East Auckland community for their support.
“Without them, we couldn’t have gathered all this help.”
“It will be several pallets of goods, humanitarian aid for children – children from Ukraine and some medical supplies,” he said.
He said a group of volunteers would collect the goods in western and central Ukraine, where many displaced people are.
Boyko and his wife plan to stay for about a week to help consolidate aid from New Zealand before it crosses the border.
“The central part of Ukraine has now become a refugee zone because many military actions have taken place in the south and west and these displaced people have gone to the central part of the country,” he said. .
When war broke out, some of Boyko’s family and friends were forced to flee their home in Kyiv. That’s when Boyko and his wife started a Givealittle page that has raised over $30,000 for Ukrainians to date.
New Zealand has so far committed $8 million in humanitarian aid to the Ukraine crisis.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.