A statement from Matthew Carter, Group CEO of Depaul International, on the current situation in Ukraine:
“Depaul Ukraine is run entirely by local staff. We have supported our colleagues who want to evacuate, either to safer places in Ukraine, or other countries. Some of our staff chose to stay to care for shelter residents who are too vulnerable to leave, due to disability or old age. We still have shelters for homeless and displaced people in Odesa and Kharkiv.
Life in Ukraine has drastically changed since the conflict started one month ago. Anyone can become homeless in an instant and food is in short supply, especially in besieged cities like Kharkiv. In Odesa, food is available, but prices have risen sharply. Many people do not have enough money to buy food, as they have lost their livelihood. Across Ukraine, the need for humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies is overwhelming.
Residents at our Odesa and Kharkiv homeless shelters are volunteering to help with the aid effort. In Odesa, our volunteers are providing hot food for over 250 people every day. Last weekend, residents in Odesa made a sausage stew, which they served with bread. In Kharkiv, our volunteers are making soup and delivering it to people sheltering in the city’s metro.
Our more mobile residents are also distributing aid, meeting the aid trucks as they arrive, and taking items to vulnerable people’s homes. Last weekend, our Kharkiv volunteers delivered tinned food, vegetables, bread, toilet rolls and nappies to people who are not able to leave their homes, including a woman who had just given birth. In a war zone, this is an act of incredible bravery.
We are so proud of our shelter residents. Many have complex needs of their own, in terms of their physical and mental health, and past trauma. Some will have faced stigma and discrimination as a result of being homeless, yet they still have the strength to help the people who need it most. Our clients and service users volunteering and working together is a true reflection of the spirit of Depaul, and our founder St. Vincent.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our Ukrainian staff and volunteers, including our shelter residents. Their bravery and dedication makes our humanitarian work possible.”