The events of February 24, 2022 were a shock to everyone. The violence and brutality of the Russian aggression made the need for help urgent. However, there was also great determination, both on the part of the National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU) and the American donors, to provide this aid as soon as possible using channels already in existence. Therefore, first activities were carried out through the Stefczyk Foundation. Ultimately, a dedicated 'Via Stella’ Foundation was established.
1) The first wave of aid included many small items. that met many great needs: medical articles (inc. emergency rescue kits and first aid kits), stretchers, sleeping mats, flashlights, binoculars, food rations… All of this and more was bought and delivered to those in need.
2) Ambulances to evacuate the ill, injured and vulnerable from Ukraine to Polish hospitals: Five ambulances have been acquired, two of which have already been transferred to Ukraine, to Kharkiv and Novograd. The third ambulance is underway for Mikołajów. Two ambulances are in the process of refitting in preparation for being sent to Ukraine.
3) Housing support for refugees in Poland: Polish credit unions are providing five families with a monthly financial support to cover the cost of renting an apartment and other costs of living.
One of the top priorities for refugee families arriving in Poland is to find permanent housing from where they can find stable work, place their children in school and remain close to Ukraine where their husbands, fathers and sons continue to resist Russian invasion.
One of the additional benefits of such help is to have an account at the credit union (SKOK).
4) Polish schools welcome Ukrainian children into classes. Yet, most of these children arrived with almost nothing to prepare them for enrollment. The Via Stella Foundation has provided one hundred and ninety one school sets for Ukrainian children residing in Poland were purchased. These sets consist of: a backpack, notebooks and a pencil case with accessories.
The goods were handed over to:
– three children based on the individual requests of their guardians,
– fifteen children based on an application from a private person hosting a group of refugees,
– sixty one children based on applications from schools,
– ninety two children based on applications from local governments and social care centers
– twenty children based on an application from Caritas, a charity institution of the Catholic Church
The aid went to the following towns and cities: Lublin, Tarnów, Ścinawa, Czerwionka-Leszczyny, Zielonka, Bojanów, Suchedniów and Rzędkowice.
School sets were delivered to children by credit unions:
– SKOK Stefczyka, SKOK Chmielewskiego, SKOK Centrum, SKOK Kwiatkowskiego, SKOK Unii Lubelskiej, SKOK Ziemi Rybnickiej, SKOK Śląsk.
5) At the request of two Ukrainian Credit Unions cooperating with NACSCU 7 walk-behind tractors with the function of a tiller, 1 potato planter and a cardan shaft were purchased to replace the equipment stolen or destroyed by Russian invaders. The purchase has been paid for and the equipment will soon be handed over to Ukrainian members of the applying Credit Unions.
Programs in Development:
While school enrollment is critical for young minds, the children need assurance of a nutritional diet to stay alert and take advantage of the new learning opportunity. The Via Stella Foundation has committed to finance the purchase of lunches for the period of one semester for 93 children staying at the County Youth Center in Garczyn.
Via Stella Foundation is negotiating a cooperation with the first Ukrainian-Polish Labor Cooperative ‘Kooperatywa Razem’ in terms of financing the purchase of five mobile sales points of Ukrainian snacks (called in Polish ‘pierożki lepioszki’), which are produced and sold by this labor cooperative. This activity will ensure employment for women refugees who came to Poland as a result of Russian aggression. Ukrainian-Polish Labor Cooperative became a member of SKOK Stefczyka and established an account there to which our Foundation transfers the awarded funds.
More about “Kooperatywa Razem’ you can find on: https://www.krs.org.pl/en/11-krs-sp-283/aktualnosci/1972-spoldzielnia-pracy-kooperatywa-razem-apel-o-wsparcie-dla-pierwszej-ukrainsko-polskiej-spoldzielni
Via Stella Foundation is in the initial discussion to provide a program for free specialist medical care points for women refugees in Poland.