- Posted March 30, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Forced Out of Own Homes, Welcomed in Kiev
MaiaKiev has been participating in protests in Ukraine ever since former President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia. She is a freelance photographer and Christian ministry worker in Kiev.
- rachel8, CNN iReport producer
Number of retreat centers in suburbs of Kiev have turned into refugee housing. Volunteers are running Facebook pages where people can see what needs refugees have and how they could help.
Together with friends from my church we took today some of electrical appliances (like electrical teapots and irons) as well as some food to one of this retreat centers that is functioning as a housing for 150 refugees.
Ivan, a volunteer who is coordinating the team receiving and distributing what people bring, also came from Crimea. He was born and spent all his life in Sevastopol. Before leaving for Kiev he was working as an administrator at a restaurant.
Ivan’s team of volunteers is also coordinating with other retreat centers. He said that theirs is already well known to Kiev citizens and they have been given more food, clothing, toys, and medicines than they actually need. Some newly opened centers don’t have anything yet, so yesterday a truck was loaded with various supplies and taken to another place.
Ivan said that they have been blown away by generosity of people in Kiev. They just post a need on a Facebook page and in couple hours 10 people show up with what was asked for. Yesterday a boy got sick and needed some medications. Today they have enough medications to treat several boys!
Kiev City Administration is helping to coordinate housing refugees in different places, but then ordinary people as well as charitable foundations help to provide for all the needs.
Ivan said that most refugees were forced out of their homes by harassment and threats, both from new Crimean government and their own friends who now treated them as enemies. Some people who had been openly against referendum were literally kicked out of their homes by Russian kozaks after Crimea was annexed.
Ivan said that less than half of the people in Crimea were in favor of joining Russia, but those who were for Ukraine had to keep quiet out of fear because of presence of Russian military on the streets. Most of the people who voted for joining Russia were motivated by hopes of increased incomes. Of course, a lot of them are getting disappointed now. Retired people are getting the same pensions as they did in Ukraine. Meanwhile prices in the stores are getting higher now, like they are in Russia.
Ivan showed where they store and sort out things that are brought for refugees, where kids are playing, where food is served. He introduced me to two different families – a Russian-speaking couple in their 60s who fled Crimea because of numerous threats to them personally and a Tatar family with two young kids who left their home because they were concerned for their safety. More about these families in the next report.