Today, the whole world is recognizing the anniversary of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A year after its inception, the war is still going on and continues to concern each of us. The SOLIDARNA Foundation supports all peace initiatives and efforts to end the war and establish peace in Ukraine, Russia and around the world.
The news of tens of thousands of people killed, millions exiled and displaced during the Russian aggression requires us to make it clear once again that we have had enough of wars and the suffering of the innocent. We must show solidarity with all the victims of the war in Ukraine and Russia and to resist the policies of violence and war.
With the emergence of the war, the wave of refugees and the search of people to find refuge and security in the countries of the European Union began. Numerous Ukrainian men and women have chosen the Republic of Croatia as their new home. As people who not so long ago survived the terror of war ourselves, the consequences of which are still felt, we united in helping our new fellow citizens, roughly 20,000 refugees, in Croatia this past summer. Learning from previous experiences of crises (earthquake and pandemic), the SOLIDARNA Foundation launched the “Solidarity with Ukraine” Fund with the support and trust of numerous citizens and companies, and readily welcomed our new fellow citizens.
By founding the Fund, we wanted to provide support to people who have chosen Croatia as their new home, through short-term financial support to ensure basic life needs and long-term support such as learning the Croatian language. In coordination with civil society organizations and public bodies, we followed the dynamics of the crisis, responding to the needs of refugees and their families the best we could.
From the beginning of the donation campaign on March 15, 2022 through December 31, 2022, 109,416.89 euros were collected in the “Solidarity with Ukraine” Fund. During the year 2022/23, two public calls for the allocation of financial support were permanently opened. One call s intended for direct financial support to refugees from Ukraine who have living expenses that they cannot meet from their own or other sources. The second call is open for projects/programs/initiatives dealing with support and assistance to displaced persons from Ukraine on an individual and collective level.
Thanks to all private and corporate donors, we managed to show that with the collected funds a solidary and open society is possible. Through the Fund we supported 164 families, made up of 181 adults and 44 children. As part of the Fund, we also supported the work of 5 associations, and with over 100 beneficiaries. Thank you to our members and councilmembers of the Fund for their engagement and support in the operation of the Fund throughout the year.
The direct financial support that we grant through the Fund goes towards urgent help for people in the first steps of a new life, giving them a sense of security. The lowest allocated direct financial support is 212.36 euros, and the highest is 995.72 euros. Support was awarded to families all over Croatia: Novi Vinodolski, Velika Gorica, Osijek, Zagreb, Samobor, Dubrovnik, Grubišno Polje, Marčana.
The fund also supported five associations, which work directly with refugees from Ukraine, provide them with support in registering for residence, using the rights of the Center for Social Welfare, delivering hot meals, continuously working on counseling and providing psychosocial support and counseling, conducting activities for children from Ukraine without adequate care, they organize gatherings in the community, etc. Among the supported organizations are: Vestigium association with 6,636.14 euros, FICE Croatia with 6,636.14 euros, Society for Psychological Assistance (DPP) with 6,636.14 euros, European Development Center of Initiatives – RECI with 6,636.14 euros and DKolectiv with 6,628.18 euros.
Helping self-employed or micro-entrepreneurs to continue doing what they know best is one of the priorities of the Fund’s work, and we are extremely glad that we supported two Ukrainian women and their Morra Ceramics brand by purchasing a ceramic kiln, and Nastya and Yana continued to produce and sell ceramics, but also across Croatia started a wave of “ceramic workshops” for children in cooperation with schools, kindergartens and associations.
Knowledge of the Croatian language – a priority for integration
Through the work of the “Solidarity with Ukraine” Fund, Croatian language courses have proven to be a priority for Ukrainians. Knowledge of the language helps in integration, empowers them, makes them independent and provides access to the labor market. Thanks to donations and great professors, more than 300 people took language courses organized by the SOLIDARNA Foundation. One course consists of 50 hours, and the levels range from beginner A1 to B2. The groups numbered roughly 10 participants and over 1000 hours of Croatian language courses were held.
Every bad event brings something good. As such, the arrival of great women from Ukraine started the association “Svoja” in Zagreb, which means “our” in Ukrainian. The association helps all refugees in Croatia, with a focus on employment, care and welfare for children, coping with Croatian institutions and accommodation. The SOLIDARNA Foundation is a permanent partner of the “Svoja” association and a supporter of this great idea continuing to grow and develop.
When the “Solidarity with Ukraine” Fund was launched, we hoped that it would not be needed in a year. We believed that the war would be over and people would be safe. Unfortunately, we are still witnessing people continuing to suffer, flee from war, and the energy crisis affecting all aspects of life.
Yesterday, the UN General Assembly voted with the votes of 141 countries on a resolution demanding the “immediate” withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Ukraine and the cessation of hostilities, thereby sending a strong message the day before the first anniversary of the aggression. The SOLIDARNA Foundation invites all people to send a message of support and solidarity to the Ukrainian people and Ukraine together, just like millions of citizens from the squares of other cities around the world.