We'll Provide Emergency Housing to Refugees

Thanks to your amazing support, all of the funds to date have been used to provide emergency relief to Ukrainian refugees, housing for elderly traveling alone and 100 Roma women and children, food, clothing, suitcases and backpacks, medical supplies, ongoing evacuation transportation within Ukraine, cash stipends to mothers and much much more. But tragically the war and refugee crisis continues. We are therefore committed to continuing to raise funds for the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Hidden deep within the Ukrainian refugee crisis lies a crisis of racial targeting. We don’t see or hear about it on CNN. Unless we had been there ourselves, we would have never known about it. And now that we see the damage, we cannot “un-see” it.

The much-celebrated generosity and openness shown to Ukrainian refugees is not being shared with an entire population of women and children. Shelters that welcome everyone else, refuse them. Apartments offered by generous owners are suddenly “unavailable” when a dark-skinned Roma family knocks on the door. Children who have witnessed horrors are being bullied. Women who have lost everything are being harassed. Where other refugees are finding some modicum of stability in a new world, the Romani are facing immediate homelessness and daily hunger. So on top of the already immeasurable tragedies that all Ukrainian refugees have experienced, the Romani are now being met with discrimination, isolation, fear and hopelessness.  

Ola is a 25 years mother of two small children. She comes from near Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.  As Russian soldiers swarmed through her town, shooting and raping innocent people, Ola tried to run to her basement with her children but a  Russian soldier busted in. He tried to rape her but she managed to get away from him pretending to be Russian. She ran away with her children and what she was wearing. Along the way she and her children were pushed out of lines to get on buses and trains by other refugees. Why? Oksana is Roma. She is brown-skinned and therefore easily identifiable and vilified. After 3 weeks she finally crossed the border and was placed in a sprawling emergency shelter with hundreds of other refugees. Unfortunately her traumas continued. Other refugees refused to sleep near her. They called her "dirty gypsy" and even physically assaulted her. Other children bullied her children. "I cried all day and night. My babies slept on my cot, crying too. I have nothing and no one."

Our first Gofundme provided meals and a safe place for 100 Romani women and children like Ola and 73 year old Isabela to feel safe and begin to heal.  The women talked, cried and began to laugh together. They understand each other and help each other. They share the same proud Roma culture and are not afraid of each other. Children left their mother's laps and started playing. Elderly women could finally rest and get the medical care they needed. The atmosphere in the hostel became calm and peaceful.  As a result, women were able to get themselves together enough to find work and feel hope.

"They want to work and become independent here" says Edyta Jaskowiak of Harangos, a grassroots, Roma-led organization working day and night to help these families get on their feet. "They are our family now. We are so proud of how far they have come. Roma are strong and proud people. Unlike what people think of us, we work hard and want the same thing for our children as everyone else."  

But their current housing runs out in a few weeks. There is no replacement in sight. Housing is full in Poland and apartment owners will not rent to Roma people. 

But we are thrilled to have located 2 group hostels in a Romani section of Krakow that are willing to house all these families! 

With stable housing and support women will find jobs, learn Polish, build skills and move forward. Mothers will enroll their children in schools with other Roma children who won’t hurt them. They will live with others who share their culture, language and traditions. They can receive necessary medical and mental health care from people who respect, understand and love them. 

Please help us to provide safe long-term shelter for these strong, resilient and vulnerable women and children. 

This is the face of the Ukrainian refugee crisis. 
- Paolina, 23 in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy
- Malina, 25, mother of 2 and a breastfeeding 4 month old
- Violeta, 40, hid with her 6 children for 2 weeks in subway tunnels
- Vanda, 23, mother of 3 whose brother, despite being cognitively disabled, was forced to stay behind and fight because he is 18
- Olenka, 50, from town near Chernobyl who suffers from leukemia due to radiation-exposure
- Isabela, 73, travelled for weeks alone, leaving everything behind. "I am old and sick. I just want to rest peacefully."

- Malgosza, 60, mother of 21 year-old Dymitrij who escaped on crutches, leaving other 2 brothers behind to fight. "I want to get well and go back and fight with my brothers."

These are the women whom your funding will help to survive and build a new life. Your gift will have immediate impact on the ground, in real time.

Annette is in constant contact with them and will continue to give updates on the positive effect of your gift.

Thank you for your support,
Annette Cycon
Dean Cycon
* All names have been changed to respect privacy.
*photo credit EURACTIV.com

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Dean Cycon
Leverett, MA

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