by Maksym Mazypchuk, Local Correspondent from Ukraine.
People have to keep social distancing in the midst of a global health crisis. In this time, solidarity and social compassion play an important role. COVID 19 has changed the work of Ukrainian CSOs, which are facing unprecedented difficulties while working during “lockdown”. Many organizations are adapting to the new situation, helping their communities, and taking quick action in response to COVID-19 by organizing initiatives for helping vulnerable groups.
Awareness Raising and Countering Fake News
The Ukrainian Philanthropists Forum has launched Charity Map 2.0. – a visualization of charity initiatives in response to COVID-19. They continue to fill the database of initiatives due to an increasing number of endeavors against the consequences of COVID 19. The main aim of the Ukrainian Philanthropists Forum is to foster transparent and accountable charitable communities and to promote the effectiveness of the charitable sector.
Journalists and PR-managers have launched the public initiative “You can save“. They focus on communications and informational support against the consequences of the pandemic and fake news. The public initiative «You can save» created a list of charitable foundations and volunteer organizations, which fight against the consequence of Covid-19 to consolidate their efforts during the pandemic. Also, they provide tips for journalists on how to write on the subject of coronavirus.
The GURT Resource Center has launched the campaign «Physical Distancing. Social cohesion!». Within the campaign, Gurt is promoting examples of how civil society organizations can provide essential support to communities. Every week there are successful stories of effective self-organization that help to improve conditions for the most vulnerable groups.
Also, Gurt is conducting anti-crisis webinars, which aim to equip CSOs with the relevant knowledge on how to organize work and communities in the fight against COVID-19, ensure better communication between the authorities, businesses, and the community.
At the regional level, dozens of CSOs, and socially responsible businesses launched initiatives to help the vulnerable groups and hospitals. Locally based CSOs can respond more rapidly to threats of pandemic and build a stronger response capacity.
In Ivano-Frankivsk, CSOs have focused their efforts on protecting medical workers by providing them with personal protective equipment. Several initiatives and organizations have merged into the Anti-Crisis Fund to unite their efforts to help their city fight the Covid-19 virus. In the beginning it was the Ivano-Frankivsk IT Cluster, Platform «Teple misto», and community initiative «StopCovid19.IF».
The Anti-Crisis Fund has raised 1,222,000 hryvnias for hospitals. Also, they are collecting information about the shortages of required items, such as PPE and ventilators. IT companies can donate medical supplies by checking out the list of healthcare facilities’ needs, which was provided by the Anti-Crisis Fund. Ivano-Frankivsk activists, CSOs, and local business companies consolidated their efforts for getting masks, ventilators, and other lifesaving medical supplies for hospitals and clinics.
Some groups of people could be disproportionately affected by the virus. Civil society organizations committed to addressing social challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The regional branches of the charitable foundation Caritas Ukraine have organized groups of volunteers for delivering food and medicines to the elderly, disadvantaged, and vulnerable groups. Representatives of the charitable foundation are involved in humanitarian work, provides assistance in the form of food, clothing, and other necessary items to hundreds of people. Every week Caritas Ukraine posts an activity report of regional branches.
All around Ukraine numerous initiatives appeared, which help medical staff by driving them to work. Volunteers who drive doctors use Viber chats, specialized mobile apps, and other tools for coordination.
In Kryvy Rih, the «Association The Responsible Citizens» has launched a project of bringing medical personnel to work. Within this project, volunteers provide health workers with yellow and purple scarves for distinguishing them from other pedestrians who are waiting for transport.
Civil society organizations should take a proactive stance and offer cooperation to local authorities and businesses. Activists can be a source of valuable experience and expertise on how to provide social services to local authorities. Civil society organizations could play an important role in providing concrete support, especially to vulnerable groups that are at risk of being disproportionately affected in the current crisis.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many donors have launched a new call for supporting the activities of civil society organizations in safeguarding human rights and protecting vulnerable groups.
This article was produced by Maksym Mazypchuk, the Project’s local correspondent and EaP Civil Society Fellow from Ukraine in the framework of the EU-funded ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions’ Project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Maksym Mazypchuk and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Project.
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