March, 10th 2023
Since December, we had been supporting one of the Unbroken Points in Bakhmut that was a lifeline to the more than 2,000 people living in the surrounding area. We dropped off aid, including generators, fuel, food and medical aid, to this point most weeks. Through this we gained a reputation among the local community for being reliable and delivering the right aid when it is needed, and, most importantly we gained their trust. When the full evacuation was declared, the local government in Kostyantanyvka, a town about 30km from Bakhmut where many refugees were fleeing to, selected STAY SAFE UA to take over a disused kindergarten and turn it into a shelter.
Two weeks later, we have officially opened a refugee shelter for people fleeing the fighting around Bakhmut, some of the bloodiest since the beginning of the war. Our philosophy is to provide a holistic approach to the care of refugees; for example not only providing a bed to sleep in but additionally connecting them with evacuation and legal services to facilitate their movement westward. Currently, we have opened for a maximum of 50 people, however we hope to increase this as we develop and raise more support. The building has a maximum capacity of 150 people.
The facilities that we have setup so far are:
- 50 beds, including space for children and accessible beds for people with mobility issues.
- The kitchen is fully equipped with all utensils, appliances and both fresh and dried food.
- The dining room is welcoming and allows people to share meals together, something many haven’t been able to do in many months.
- A connection point that includes WIFI, a place to charge phones, and access to computers for refugees to connect with their families and plan their next step.
We have hired three local coordinators to manage the daily running of the shelter. Two of these were refugees themselves from Bakhmut who fled a few months ago, they understand the experience of the residents and are in a unique position to be able to help them. The other coordinator has been a powerhouse in this region since the beginning of the war, organizing countless aid deliveries and is a central component to the local evacuation network.
On March 9th, we officially opened our shelter and welcomed our first 12 refugees. That evening they were able to sleep in a warm bed, share a homemade meal (not a dehydrated instant meal) and access hot water. These seemingly basic amenities have not been accessible to these people for months.
We would like to everyone who has supported in in starting this project, we were able to mobilize within two weeks of deciding on this project and this would never have been possible without the huge support we received from across the world.
Stay tuned for future updates as we grow the capacity of the shelter and the facilities provided within it.