Feb. 24 marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s shocking and brutal invasion of Ukraine. A year ago, we never imagined this war would continue this long. We never imagined that like David before Goliath, Ukraine would continue to stand firm against Russia’s massive military strength and defend freedom for 365 days and counting!

We never imagined three of the communities Action-PSJ supports would come under Russian army control, two of these communities would be destroyed almost beyond recognition, and a rocket would land next door to one of our long-time community coordinator’s homes and miraculously leave him unharmed. 

We never imagined that all of our coordinators and 90% of the elders we serve would remain in Ukraine throughout the war. We never imagined the bubbies and zaydes we serve would need to survive so many wartime shortages without food, electricity, water, heat, and medical supplies. 

Throughout it all, Action-PSJ, because of your generous philanthropic support, has been there with the life-saving humanitarian aid and financial support Ukraine’s elderly need to survive. Looking back, who would have ever imagined how dire this war would be for seniors in Ukraine?

According to Amnesty International, the ongoing conflict has a staggering human toll on the elderly—3.4 million people depend on humanitarian assistance; one-third are over 60 years old.

Elderly Ukrainians are more likely to have stayed in homes that are in dangerous areas, lack functional roofs or windows, or do not have electricity, heat, or running water. Older people are locked out of the private rental market by poverty-level pensions and unable to live in temporary shelters if they have disabilities.

Hospitals and clinics, often the first places the elderly turn to for assistance, are under attack and overwhelmed. The United Nations notes the number of recorded attacks on health care facilities last year was the highest in the world. There were 745 incidents as of Jan. 4. 

Responding to this horrific health care situation, Action-PSJ has created an innovative telehealth system with Ukraine’s acclaimed Jewish Medical Center that helps to meet the medical and psychological needs of the elderly.

Throughout the turmoil and violence, Action-PSJ’s heroic local coordinators have continued to provide support so desperately needed by their neighbors. Working with our many partner organizations, this past year, Action-PSJ shipped over 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including food, clothing, blankets, heaters, medications, and first aid supplies, as well as more than $75,000 in financial subsidies.

With our direct neighbor-to-neighbor, heart-to-heart approach, all this aid is distributed directly to the elderly and others in need. (For a complete overview of Action-PSJ’s work in Ukraine, view our 2022 annual report.) Our streamlined organization ensures that your support has maximum impact.

This monstrous war and its consequences continue with no end in sight. The overwhelming demand for housing, heating, food, medications, clothing, and financial support continues to grow.

While bubbies and zaydes across Ukraine are facing war-time power blackouts, you have the power to act now and save lives. With your support, Action-PSJ will continue to provide our needy elders with food, medicine, and other life essentials, including the sense of hope that comes from knowing that people thousands of miles away care.

While we never imagined our friends in Ukraine would have such dramatic needs, we are thrilled and grateful that our community has provided the support needed to respond to this humanitarian crisis. Action-PSJ’s unique person-to-person approach and boots-on-the-ground network across Ukraine make it possible for your local kindness to have a global impact.

One year later, we stand in awe of the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people and pray that peace will ring out across their land.

Nadiya Sadirova artist statement

(Image: Nadiya Sadirova)

“I was making a parallel between dates and numbers, so I put a clock in the middle of the artwork. It’s 24 hours and the 24th of February. And 12 numbers on the clock like 12 months in one year. It is also about the perception of time during the war.

“And like a culmination of everything, there is a Freedom (reference to the motherland monument in Kyiv), who broke the circle of wartime. She (us) sees these symbolic dates and numbers as Russians see them, but unlike Russians, who use them to destroy democracy and to justify genocide and think these dates give strength to them, She (us) uses their power to fight for freedom instead. And, in the end, the same numbers work for light because only we decide what makes us stronger or weaker. So we chose to fight. And all together we will win.”

Debbie Kardon is executive director of Action-PSJ.

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