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Copernicus Group 4 Ukraine

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WHO WE ARE:

The Koper Pomaga – Copernicus Group Foundation, although officially registered in May 2022, was established in the first days following the Russian attack on Ukraine. That’s when the alumni and friends of the Nicolaus Copernicus High School in Łódź got together and organized free buses, which over the course of the first wartime weeks evacuated over 5,000 people from the Lviv train station – a major gathering point for those fleeing the conflict. Today, Koper Pomaga is a leading Łódź NGO focused on supporting the victims of Russian violence. Every day, the Foundation takes care of over 300 refugees, offering them a comprehensive aid program – from accommodations and material and financial aid to medical and legal support, and psychological and acclimation assist. Koper Pomaga runs intensive Polish language courses for Ukrainians, aimed at facilitating the entering of the job market. So far, over 200 people have completed those classes. Since August 2022, the Foundation has been running the Łódź Multicultural Center, which strives to facilitate social integration of foreigners, new arrivals to the city, and their Polish neighbors. The Center believes that meaningful social integration is a multifaceted process. It involves legal and logistical help, but also, and more importantly, various initiatives promoting communication and bringing together the people of Łódź. Aside from working in Poland, Koper Pomaga is actively engaged in direct aid within Ukraine, especially in its eastern regions, particularly exposed to the enormity of Russian aggression. Since the beginning of the war, the Foundation has been supporting and equipping the Maryan Havryliv group of Lviv paramedics, who train civilians (including municipal employees, firefighters, volunteers, and high school and college students) in wartime first aid. Those volunteers then accompany evacuation transports from the east as medical personnel. The Foundation organizes regular humanitarian and medical aid convoys (which carry food, personal hygiene products, clothing and sleeping bags, generators, and bandages and dressings) directly to the areas most impacted by the ongoing conflict, including Bucha, Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Kherson. The Foundation does not employ any intermediaries – it’s the Koper Pomaga volunteers who personally reach those regions and hand over the goods to those most in need. That aspect of the Foundation’s work has been documented in the Surzhyk project – a photographic exhibition, an album, and a documentary (the latter two in development) about the inhabitants of the Kharkiv and Donetsk oblasts, who day in and day out face the consequences of Russian barbarity.

WHAT WE DO:

The Koper Pomaga Foundation has to date organized 17 direct humanitarian and medical aid convoys, which delivered food, personal hygiene products, medical supplies, clothing, sleeping bags, generators, and individual water filtration systems to the areas most damaged by the ongoing war. Multiple elements contributed to the success of those transports. Above all else, unlike numerous other organizations and individual donors, the Foundation has not treated the war-ravaged Ukraine like a dumpster, where under the guise of humanitarian aid, one can dispose of various inconvenient, lingering products. Each transport is preceded by a visit to the planned destination. Koper Pomaga volunteers meet the potential recipients of a convoy (including the Unity and Strength Foundation in Kharkiv and the center for internally displaced people in Drohobych) and conduct a thorough reconnaissance as to what and how much is needed. Only places thus verified receive the Foundation’s support, which delivers precisely what is needed the most. The convoys comprise of 2 to 3 large trucks, which on the one hand, allows for a delivery of a substantial amount of goods at once (usually between 4 and 6 tons), and on the other minimizes the risk for the drivers (semis and larger convoys are a frequent and easy target of attacks). It also eliminates the endless lines at the border. At the moment, the average wait time at the Korczowa border crossing is 19 hours for a semi, 1 hour for a smaller truck. Koper Pomaga does not employ any intermediaries, therefore minimizing the risk of its humanitarian aid ending up in the wrong hands, fueling the Ukrainian black market or the market squares of Belarus and Russia. As part of a recurring Package for a Civilian project, the food is packed into individual parcels, which the Foundation’s volunteers deliver directly to those most in need. Other charities, including the World Central Kitchen, which is one of the few organizations still operating in the vicinity of the frontlines, set up field kitchens and distribution points in the centers of towns and villages, where they hand out food and other aid. Taking into consideration that those who stayed in eastern Ukraine are chiefly the elderly and the sick, for whom reaching the town center on foot and then waiting for an unspecified amount of time for a bowl of soup is often physically practically impossible, such solutions are impractical. Koper Pomaga volunteers personally carry the parcels into the homes of the elderly in frontline towns including Barvinkove, Toretsk, Shevchenkove, and Slovyansk. Such direct contact, on top of the fact that the Foundation repeatedly visits the same areas, allows for a truly personalized, immediate aid. The Foundation knows the people it helps and adjusts the convoys to their specific needs. As the situation rapidly evolves, so do the transports. What is more, such an approach allows for the nurturing of interpersonal relationships. The Ukrainian families do not feel like beggars living on whatever falls from the Lord’s table, or like supplicants in the face of a hostile bureaucracy that claims to know better what’s in their best interest, but like friends who can count on a deodorant or a bar of chocolate. In the end, it is exceedingly important that the humanitarian aid is not limited to the bare minimum required for survival, but that it includes little luxuries and extras, thanks to which the Ukrainians, living as they are in unimaginably harsh circumstances, can yet again feel like real human beings.

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Donations 

  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 9 d
  • Paul J Behringer
    • $25 
    • 9 d
  • Jeff Pollard
    • $100 
    • 17 d
  • Stanislav Tarasov
    • $20 
    • 19 d
  • Julie OSullivan
    • $60 
    • 20 d
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Fundraising team: Copernicus Group (3)

Ania Hyman
Organizer
Ossining, NY
Kasia Lisowska
Team member
Marcin Banasiak
Team member

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