Just over a month ago, Russian forces invaded Ukraine, sparking a crisis that, tragically, rages on today. As many of you may know, Ukraine has (or had) a Jewish population of approximately 200,000 people. Those who have been able have fled, and immigration to Israel is going up fast!
Since the outbreak of the war at the end of February, over 4,000 Jewish Ukrainian refugees have made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel), and more than 8,000 non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees have received safe haven.
According to the most recent projections, 30,000 Ukrainian Jews are expected to immigrate to Israel in the next few months. In anticipation of this massive wave of Aliyah from Ukraine, The Jewish Agency for Israel has launched its ‘Aliyah Express’ program, which will expedite the immigration process resulting in thousands of Ukrainian Olim (immigrants) arriving in Israel per week.
Joseph Project has been playing a very active role in assisting war refugees from Ukraine in the past month. Since the beginning of March, we have been ongoingly supplying aid in the form of beds, furniture, household items, hygiene supplies, diapers, clothing, etc. to 15 different organizations working directly with Ukrainian refugees and other new immigrants in Israel (many Russian Jews are now also escaping Russian and making Aliyah as a result of the war with Ukraine) to provide for their immediate practical needs.
In total, we have given organizations helping refugees nearly $400,000 (₪1,267,150) in aid humanitarian aid in the past month.
What does this look like in action?
MEETING NEW IMMIGRANT/REFUGEE NEEDS
Just last week, 15 refugee families from Ukraine (mostly comprised of mothers and over 30 children) arrived at Kibbutz Yehiam in northern Israel to move into their first permanent homes in Israel. Just before they arrived, we received a worried phone call from the community manager at the kibbutz saying, “We have already prepared the apartments but we have nothing to give them. Each family will come with one small suitcase. We want to welcome them all the basic comforts they need to live with dignity …”
Our team jumped into action and sent 2 truckloads full of mattresses, bedding, clothes, undergarments, and furniture. The members of the kibbutz, together with our staff, prepared the apartments with the furniture and items so that everything would be ready when the mothers and their children arrived. They are now already there and settling into their new homes, and we hope that they will find safety and comfort in their new homes after all, that they have gone through and lost in the past weeks.
This is one story of many. So many refugees receiving our aid have arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and maybe a small carry-on packed in haste. The vast majority of the refugees we have helped were literally sleeping on the floor until we brought them beds. It’s a heartbreaking reality born out of chaos and necessity, and the need is great. Praise God, Joseph Project exists to serve in such a time as this.
In addition to our continued efforts, we believe it is necessary to take our aid one step further to meet the needs around us, and as such, we have started the “My First Home in Israel Starter Kit” project. Each “kit” (a large box) will be packed with pillows, bedding, towels, and kitchen supplies for one household. These boxes will be gifted to families as they arrive and help them as they start a new life in Israel from scratch.
For $160 (₪500) you can fund a box for a family, providing practical and much-needed support as they wade through an intensely traumatic and challenging time. If you feel led to support Joseph Project in our operations to help Ukrainian refugees and immigrants, please consider becoming a monthly supporter, or make a one-time donation.
BECOME A MONTHLY SUPPORTER OR MAKE A ONE-TIME DONATION
While we are thankful to be positioned to help thus far, it is getting harder and harder to meet the rising demand for aid at this time when the cost of shipping containers has gone up over the past two years and is now a limiting factor in how much aid we can import. We pray for continued provisions to allow us to continue to serve in this capacity and beyond.
HELPING UKRAINIAN IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES IN POLAND, MOLDOVA, AND ROMANIA
On March 1, Joseph Project sent a small team from Israel to Poland on a five-day mission to provide humanitarian aid to the thousands fleeing from Ukraine to Poland. At the time of the trip (a week after the start of the war), Joseph Project was perhaps the only independent (non-state) organization providing aid at the border. During this aid mission, the team worked with several individuals, local churches, and organizations on the ground to provide first aid kits, laundry detergent, towels, hygiene kits, feminine products, food for packed meals, cereals, dry legumes and grains, toys, sleeping bags, coats, socks, and suitcases to hundreds flocking to the border.
Transportation in the area was minimal for the refugees, so our team rented and drove large vans throughout the region conveying refugees between cities to locations they could travel from and bringing them to refugee centers where they could receive food, clothing, and other essentials to meet their immediate needs in the journey ahead. Throughout this aid mission, they drove over 1,500 miles transporting refugees.
A POP-UP PHARMACY FOR UKRANIAN REFUGEES
After recognizing a serious shortage of greatly-needed first aid supplies and medicine at the refugee center in Lublin, Poland, we found three new volunteers, including a pharmacist, to transport and stock the center. In total, we sent over 1,000 units of mixed medical and hygienic supplies. These items are already being used and given to the large influx of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Lublin, many of whom are arriving sick and injured.
AID MISSION TO MOLDOVA-UKRAINE BORDER
In addition to our team in Poland, we sent a second aid team to the Moldova-Ukraine border, where they worked tirelessly bringing refugees from the border to community centers and churches to receive care. Throughout the trip, the team purchased large supplies of food, clothing, hygiene products, toiletries, and diapers for the refugees and centers to keep them stocked throughout the high turnover of refugees.
SUPPORTING REFUGEE EVACUATIONS TO ROMANIA
In the last month, Joseph Project also donated $10K to fund the purchase of a second van for the Romania Reach Initiative as they drive into hot spots to supply aid and evacuate women and children. Each trip is a life-threatening journey – the vans have been shot at multiple times, but thankfully no one has been injured, and the brave team continues this critical service to save lives.
STRESS-RELIEF ROOM FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN IN POLAND
As hundreds of thousands of refugees pass through Lublin in recent weeks, one hotel-turned-refugee-center is caring for hundreds of Jewish refugees (many now hoping to come to Israel). Joseph Project has helped them and supplied games, activities, sports equipment, arts and craft supplies, and more to create a stress relief room/activity center for the children and youth. The objective is to give these children (who have experienced unspeakable trauma in recent weeks and are mostly locked indoors due to the cold winter weather) the opportunity to return to some of the simple joys of childhood – to laugh, to play, to dream, to create – and exert energy in a healthy and positive way. This space has already made a huge impact! Watch the video here to see …