Our regularly scheduled updates on major programs below, but also a spotlight on Advocacy and the amazing cultural events happening this season.
Dear Razom community,
In each newsletter, we try to share with you how your support impacts our programs for first responders and defenders on the frontline, the strained healthcare system, and the work of NGOs across Ukraine. You’ll still see those updates below, but a year into the war, we see how it has become even more important for Razom to advocate for Ukraine on multiple fronts, whether at the Oscars, Congress, or your inbox.
Razom sponsored the travel and stay in LA over the past week of four Ukrainian team members from the Danish-Ukrainian co-production A House Made of Splinters, a documentary film nominated for this year’s Oscars. Shot in 2019-2020, the film follows the life inside a halfway home for children whose parents aren’t capable of taking care of them near the frontlines in Lysychansk, Ukraine (a town currently under russian occupation, after which the shelter was damaged by a missile strike). As some parents succumb to the consequences of life in a region devastated by yearslong war, you get a rare and deeply touching glimpse at their children, who become larger than life heroes in a fight for their own happiness, childhood, and right to feel a family’s love. It’s the children’s hope and wisdom that captured us, so when we had the opportunity to support Azad Safarov (Assistant Director and Line Producer), Olena Rozavodovska (Project Coordinator and Co-Founder along with Azad of Voices of Children), and the incredible caretakers in the film Marharyta Mykolaivna and Olga Viktorivna on their working trip to the US, we signed on.
Not only did they represent Ukraine at the Oscars, but they spent every day giving interviews to national and international media raising awareness about russia’s crimes against Ukrainian children and their families during this war — those killed, abducted, and countless of their families, homes, and schools destroyed. You can learn more about the planned policy of deportation of Ukrainian children, a direct violation of the Genocide Convention, here, via a Twitter Space hosted by Razom Advocacy. You can watch A House Made of Splinters on Apple TV+ or Amazon Prime, you will not regret it.
Our team at Razom Advocacy continues its hard work advocating for Ukraine by holding high level meetings with government officials, conducting diverse research projects to support policy advancement, and doing outreach on social and traditional media to elevate Ukrainian experts and voices. So far this year, we’ve had over 20 face to face meetings across the legislative and executive branches, and we’re just getting started.
The Advocacy team invites you to join all of us at Razom at the Ukraine Action Summit on April 23-25, 2023 to advocate in person in Washington D.C. It’s the American Coalition for Ukraine’s 2nd Ukraine Action Summit consisting of advocacy workshops and trainings alongside Congressional meetings on Capitol Hill, where you’ll speak directly to lawmakers about Ukraine. Learn more and register here. During last year’s summit, participants joined 150 meetings with representatives from 30 states and 110 Congressional districts – help us surpass that record this year!
Here’s a bit more about what Advocacy is doing to bring Ukraine closer to victory – and how you can help.
Contact your representative! Constituent voices are an integral part of how lawmakers decide what bills to support – and Ukraine needs you. Our current campaign is pushing for the passage of the HARM Act: learn more. Plus, check out the Renew Democracy Initiative’s Hold russia Accountable campaign.
Follow us on Twitter and join us weekly on Fridays at 1pm EST for Twitter Spaces about Ukraine. This week’s topic: nine years since russia’s annexation of Crimea.
You can always learn more about the situation in Ukraine through our research reports on our website. Currently you’ll find info on ecocide, food security, & the Wagner Group during this war, and can read our latest op-ed: “Don’t Believe the Hype – Bipartisan Support for Ukraine Remains Strong in Congress”
Everyday Razom is grateful for the incredible community of donors that have come together consistently (and creatively!) to fundraise in support of Ukraine. We are proud to work with teams across the world to bring a diversity of programs and projects for you to connect with that have a direct impact on the lives of Ukrainians fighting a war on multiple fronts, the outcome of which will shape the century to come for all of us.
So when a generous donor from the states requested that their gift be used specifically to impact Ukrainian Defenders, our team put that money towards procuring and delivering 41 Motorola radios, 1 mobile shower/laundry, and 5 pickup trucks into the hands of battalions near the front line. The specialized mobile baths are a recent innovation manufactured right in Ukraine, supporting the local economy, while the cars were prepped by our team (including painting the initials of the donor’s father on every pickup) for medical evacuations. Check out the photos below of the soldiers taking the time to offer proper thanks by sending a gift of their own from Ukraine to the US.
Our team at Razom Health continues to be busy connecting the resources of our generous partners and in-kind donors to healthcare institutions with the greatest need across Ukraine, as well as gearing up for its next medical missions. Here’s the latest:
Some folks from Hearthstone Care based out of the Catskills in New York collected and helped transport a 53 foot-long container of medical beds and other durable medical equipment that we’ll ship and distribute to medical facilities across Ukraine.
As missile strikes continue to terrorize Ukrainian civilians across the country (just last week 81 were launched into every region of Ukraine), providing vital medications and medical supplies continues to be a need that Razom is able to address. Last week, another in-kind donation from our partners CMMB got distributed in Ukraine.
Photos of medical professionals wearing their brand new FIGS keep coming our way, this time from Ivano-Frankivsk, Sumy, and Odesa. FIGS deserves another special shoutout as they’ve been, and are committed to continuing, taking part in our medical missions like the upcoming Leap Global Missions, Face the Future, Face to Face, and Neurosurgeon medical trips throughout March, April, and May by providing the necessary medical scrubs for all of the American and Ukrainian surgeons and nurses taking part.
Partnering with four different US Medical Doctors Associations, Razom has organized four medical missions (so far!) for this spring as part of our Co-Pilot Project that aims to raise the level of medical and surgical care in Ukraine through trips by American physicians to exchange their expertise, and the provision of critical equipment aimed at building programs. You can learn about our most recent medical mission trip with AAFPRS (American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) in the “Face to Face” that offers Ukrainians, military and civilians alike, extremely complex reconstructive surgeries and a chance to have a normal life. Consider donating to support more of this work with Razom here.
Our team at Razom Relief continues to find, vet, and accelerate the impact of Ukrainian NGOs and grassroots aid initiatives across much of Ukraine whose ability to quickly step in to provide critical humanitarian support is unparalleled. Below a round-up of some recent initiatives:
Kyiv-based volunteer group Yangoly UA organized a movement called “Brave to Rebuild” and is leveraging support from Razom, Epicenter K, World Central Kitchen, and other local Ukrainian businesses & organizations to restore several damaged buildings at once. Led by a group of students in Kyiv after the de-occupation of nearby suburbs, they’ve organized over 1,500 volunteers (taking time between classes or on the weekends) in the past year to help clear debris and patch up buildings impacted by russia’s terrorist missile campaign. Sometimes they’ll collaborate with BUR (Building Ukraine Together), a Razom Partner since 2016 that runs youth camps that rebuild and repair homes for displaced Ukrainians.
In Summer 2022, VAAD Ukraine (the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine), started a psychological recovery program for women and children called “Renewal During the War.” Razom supported the 31st and 32nd camps (run in 2023) of the program, where in each, around 40 women and children got together for three weeks in safe corner of Ukraine to participate in individual and group therapy, art therapy and various creative classes.
A volunteer group called “Oops, Life In My City” successfully repaired and equipped a bomb shelter in a school in the city of Chernihiv thanks to Razom’s support. Border towns and cities in Ukraine are subjected to russian shelling almost daily, forcing those who refuse to leave behind their homes, to hide in bomb shelters. There are many such groups in Ukraine doing this work that Razom has been supporting for nearly a year now.
There are lots of excellent events happening across the US right now that bring special opportunities to connect with Ukrainian artists and culture and you can find our shortlist of them on our website. Below is a round up of a few we want to bring to your attention.
You do not want to miss this. Serhiy Zhadan, one of Ukraine’s most celebrated writers and a longstanding partner of Razom, is in the US on a big tour (he’s likely doing poetry readings in a city near you this week) is taking part in a special week of performances at La MaMa in NYC with Yara Arts Group. Get your tickets here.
Attention film lovers! Once you’re done streaming A House Made of Splinters, you’ve got at least 9 other films you can watch through Ukrainian eyes thanks to the Cleveland International Film Festival later this month. Here’s a list of the 8 features, 10 shorts, and 3 Razom supported projects we recommend: https://www.instagram.com/p/CpllL41vLmr/
You’ll definitely see us at the “Art in Time of War: Celebrating the Resilience of Ukrainian Culture” event at Low Library on March 27th. Hosted by The Harriman Institute & The President’s Office of Columbia University, you’ll get an opening address from Razom’s CEO Dora Chomiak, poetry, film, music, followed by a panel discussion and reception. Secure your tickets here.
We are so excited to be one of the sponsors of the “i am u are” Ukrainian Creators Fair in NYC March 24-26th! Come meet and support the modern creative industry of Ukraine — its culture, technology, art & design have always been here and are here to stay. Learn more and secure your tickets ASAP here.
As always, thank you for standing with Ukraine, for spreading the word about the amazing work featured all throughout this newsletter, and for joining us.
Since 2014, the ecological situation at the eastern border of Ukraine has shown a sign of significant deterioration as a result of Russian military aggression. The harmful effects on the environment have been amplified by the full-scale invasion, as Russia has utilized high-precision weapons to attack critical infrastructure such as hydroelectric power plants, water infrastructure, oil refineries, and chemical and pharmaceutical warehouses. This has resulted in the contamination of soil, air, surface and underground water. These have a direct impact on Ukrainian livelihoods and biodiversity leading to a major environmental catastrophe. Despite the severity of the situation, the effects on the environment have not received enough public attention, rendering it “an invisible front.” Last year, environmental NGOs and Ukraine’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources took steps to document the damage through initiatives such as EcoZagroza. According to EcoZagroza, there have been 2245 verified reports of military actions with a direct impact on the environment since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. As this report aims to show, the war has many far-reaching consequences on the environment, with Russia actively engaging in the weaponization of critical and civilian infrastructure and the environment. Accurately assessing the environmental damage is necessary for achieving justice and carries important implications for the post-war restoration and compensation plans.
Eastern Ukraine is a heavily industrialized region with an abundance of mines, factories, and refineries. The infrastructure has been subjected to frequent attacks by Russian missile strikes leading to the release of toxic substances into closed bodies of water and the ground. Since the beginning of Russian shelling, most mines in the region have been closed. The lack of supervision, and, thus, the lack of pumping mechanisms, risk the flooding of mines which leads to acid mine drainage or the outflow of toxic, contaminated water, usually with sulfur-bearing materials and metals. In recent river water samples from the Lviv area, the concentration of ammonia and nitrates was 165 and 50 times higher than the recommended limits, respectively. The shelling of the Voda Donbasu water treatment company led to frequent water interruptions and a general deterioration of water and sanitation infrastructure in the Donbas region for over 3 million people; since 2014, the water infrastructure has been damaged over 300 times leading to shortages and deterioration of sanitary condition introducing the possibility of the spread of water-borne diseases. Political and environmental experts have called this the Russian ‘weaponization of water.’ Russia is also emptying the Kakhovka Reservoir in Southern Ukraine which stores potable water for hundreds of thousands of people and provides irrigation for almost 500,000 million acres of farmland. It also supplies water for cooling of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Moreover, the destruction of toxic waste treatment facilities leads to contamination of nearby surface water and carries risks of long-term ground contamination, which can seep into groundwater. It is worth noting that 25% of Ukraine relies on groundwater for their water supply, amplifying the severity of the issue.
The destruction of vital infrastructure, such as oil depots and sewage treatment plants, along the Azov-Black Sea coast can result in devastating consequences, including oil spills and the release of toxic waste to the sea. This would cause significant disruptions to marine life, including protected species as well as fish which are necessary for subsistence. The Russian use of underwater mines and radar equipment in the Black Sea has a disastrous impact on the marine ecosystem. Environmental organizations have reported a distressing number of deceased Black Sea dolphins and porpoises: by November 2022, the estimated number reached 50,000. These species are vulnerable not only to chemical pollution, but also acoustic pollution: the use of underwater sonar systems affects marine mammals that rely on echolocation for orientation and, ultimately, survival. This issue demands the immediate attention of countries surrounding the Black Sea, including Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
More than 200,000 hectares of Ukrainian land are currently contaminated with debris, mines, and shells. The Russian military uses old Soviet equipment that runs on harmful propellants. The chemical compounds in the propellants cause immediate and long-lasting contamination of the soil. The most contaminated soil can be found at the locations where heavy equipment exploded. Not only do explosions leave behind large volumes of burnt metal that is compounded of elements damaging to soil, but they also result in spills of various liquids carried by military vehicles, including fuel and lubricant. Once a vehicle explodes, these toxic substances leak out and are absorbed by the soil. The high concentration of heavy metal in the soil constitutes a threat to human health and the arability of agricultural land. As a result, it will take decades for Ukraine to restore its food production.
While Ukraine occupies only 6% of Europe’s territory, it is home to 35% of the continent’s biodiversity. Forest fires, loud explosions, and contamination of soil and water lead to the destruction of natural habitats. Many species have migrated, changing both the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Since the beginning of the invasion, there have been more than 1500 reported cases of destruction of the ecosystem, including biosphere reserves and national parks. Indigenous species’ habitats like the Irpin wetlands may be irreversibly damaged due to war.
Air pollution and climate change
The use of explosive weapons, targeting of chemical warehouses and fossil fuel infrastructure, and wildfires are the leading causes of air pollution. Notable examples include the explosion of the 2022 Kharkiv firework warehouse as well as the 2017 Kalynivka ammunition depot explosion. Moreover, the destruction of military equipment, including tanks and armored combat vehicles (ACVs) are the leading causes of emissions of polluting substances into the atmosphere. This carries immediate risks to human health causing respiratory issues such as pneumonia and bronchitis. The war has also increased the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which directly impacts global warming. In the first seven months of the invasion, at least 100 million tons of CO2 were released in the atmosphere.
Implications for Post-War Restoration
While the Ukrainian government, activists, and civil society are gathering environmental data, recording instances of war damage to nature, the question of how do we keep Russia accountable for its ecocide in Ukraine remains.
Ukraine estimated the measurable, immediate environmental damage from Russia’s war at $46 billion. In addition to direct damages, Russia’s war against Ukraine has diverted Ukraine’s resources away from environmental policies and climate action, which has long-term implications for sustainable development. After almost a decade of work, the International Law Commission, which is the legal body within the UN, adopted the final version of 27 Draft Principles for environmental protection in relation to armed conflict in May 2022. This is a positive and innovative development as the proposed principles blend the laws of armed conflict and best practices, encouraging States and international organizations to ensure that “damage does not remain unrepaired or uncompensated,” among other provisions. The principles will be referred to the UN General Assembly for further consideration.
Ukraine is exploring various avenues that will allow it to hold Russia accountable for the environmental damage. The crime of ecocide has been included in the Ukrainian criminal code in 2001. At the international level, the International Criminal Court does not currently recognize ecocide as a crime despite growing pressure to do so; however, international humanitarian law prohibits employing methods of warfare that intend to damage the natural environment. Ukraine has been clear that it will seek reparations from Russia, which could potentially be extracted through seized Russian assets in specific countries. President Zelenskyy keeps ecocide high on the agenda in his 10-point peace plan, which is also one of the country’s preconditions for entering peace negotiations with Russia.
There are few precedents of compensation mechanisms at the international level. The Compensation Commission was established by the UN Security Council in 1991 to require Iraq to pay reparations for damage during its invasion of Kuwait, including environmental damage. With Russia having veto power in the Security Council, this might not be an option. However, the resolution “Furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine” adopted by the General Assembly in November 2022 recommended developing a register of the damages to the environment at the international level, which could be a step towards accountability.
Environmental damage affects the health, food supply, and livelihoods of Ukrainians. The ecological consequences have implications beyond local borders, affecting transboundary air and waters like the Black Sea. Nongovernmental and governmental organizations alike are monitoring environmental damage to estimate the required funds and time to restore the civilian and critical infrastructure, and the ecosystem. Full restoration of the environment will take decades and the long-term effects will likely remain overlooked due to difficulties in measurement and lack of legal mechanisms. Nevertheless, seeking accountability for the immediate environmental damage will be crucial in achieving justice and will create an important precedent for the future.
ByZuzanna Iwanejko, Maryna Maiboroda, and Daryna Lesniak
Cottrel et al. (2022). “Explosive Weapons Use and the Environmental Consequences: Mapping Environmental Incidents in Ukraine” The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction.
Kroeger, Alix (2023). “How the War in Ukraine is Killing Marine Mammals” BBC https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20221222-how-the-war-in-ukraine-is-killing-marine-mammals
Rawtani et al. (2022). “Environmental damages due to war in Ukraine: A perspective.” Science of Total Environment
As the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives gets underway for the 118th Congress, a narrative has taken hold that there is a growing partisan divide when it comes to supporting Ukraine. According to this misguided idea, Republicans across the board are raising new roadblocks and have turned against Ukraine, while Democrats want to see Ukraine prevail against the genocidal war currently being waged by Russia.
This narrative is demonstrably incorrect and diminishes a genuine area of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.
While some members of both parties have cast doubt on US policy towards Ukraine, they remain in the small minorities on both sides of the aisle. Certain Members of Congress from each major party have been vocal about their objections to further US support for Ukraine, but they have been far more effective in attracting headlines than the support of their fellow lawmakers.
Over the course of the 117th Congress, our tracking index of 23 key Russia- and Ukraine-related votes in the House of Representatives reveals an overwhelmingly pro-Ukraine voting record for both parties. From legislation to sanction Russia economic actors, to support the victims of Putin’s aggression, and to send aid to Ukraine, the record paints a clear picture. The Republican caucus consistently voted in favor of Ukraine, vastly outvoting the less than 10 percent of House Republicans who regularly voted against these measures.
The bipartisan record of support for Ukraine is even stronger in the Senate. Take, for example, the recent inclusion of $45 billion dollars for Ukraine in December’s Omnibus spending package. The final level of support was $7 billion or 15 percent above what was requested by the Biden Administration. Those additional funds were championed by leaders of both parties and would not have happened if it were not for the specific work of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator James Risch — both Republicans.
Leaders of the Republican party talk the talk as well as walking the walk. In his speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, Leader McConnell underscored his party’s commitment: “My party’s leaders overwhelmingly support a strong, involved America and a robust trans-Atlantic alliance. Don’t look at Twitter, look at people in power… We are committed to helping Ukraine.” And in his appearance on Fox News on February 16th, he made the case directly to the American people: “I’m going to try to help explain to the American people that defeating the Russians in Ukraine is the single most important event going on in the world right now.”
Indeed, just in the week of February 13th, two major pro-Ukraine bills have been reintroduced with strong bipartisan support, the Holding Accountable Russian Mercenaries (HARM) Act and the Ukraine Genocide Resolution. These bills are important ways for Congress to aid Ukraine in its fight, by enacting more punitive designations for Russian armed groups and calling out the actions of the aggressors as the genocide they are.
Without a doubt, there is much work to be done in the weeks and months ahead to maintain and expand the bipartisan support for Ukraine in the 118th Congress — especially as new fights on raising the debt ceiling loom large. Yet careful observers should be wary of easy or simplistic narratives that view everything in Washington through a purely partisan lens.
Members on both sides of the aisle — Republican and Democrat — are deeply and demonstrably committed to Ukraine’s victory. While members may differ on specific tactics or details of policy, the genuine support for Ukraine is palpable.
Lone or fringe voices can be loud, but not necessarily convincing. American leaders of both political parties are undertaking great efforts to see that Ukraine is ultimately victorious. And when victory does come, Ukraine will rightly be able to thank Republicans, Democrats, and Independants for the support America provided.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has had a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals and communities. The Razom Advocacy team recaps the past year of the full-scale invasion in Ukraine and provides a comprehensive overview of the events and developments that have taken place over the past year, including the impact of the conflict on human lives, infrastructure, and the broader geopolitical landscape.
Razom is multifaceted support for Ukraine: to stop the shelling (Advocacy), to stop the bleeding (delivering Tactical Medicine), to keep people alive (at Hospitals), to keep Ukrainians connected (with radios, generators), to connect the world to Ukraine (with you). We are committed to victory.
Dear Razom community,
This is our first newsletter of the year and it’s been too long since the last, so you will see a lot of updates from us in this edition. After our year-end holiday fundraising drive (we raised over $8MM, you are all absolutely incredible), the Razom team decided to take stock of its work and impact in 2022 to effectively plan for 2023 (while still delivering on our programs). To do this required comprehending the sheer scale and length of this war, which at times feels like a herculean effort. So does thinking it will go on for another day, and another.
In the span of nearly one year, Ukrainian Armed Forces, perhaps the most diverse army in the world today (made up of professionals, musicians, ballet dancers, olympic athletes, history teachers, journalists, volunteers, sons & daughters and moms & dads… did you know that 1 in 6 people in the Ukrainian army are women?) have defended Ukraine and freedom against an imperialistic, genocidal power with massive consequences. Razom has supported these First Responders and Defenders from the start, and will continue to do so.
In the span of nearly an entire year, Ukraine’s healthcare system has withstood extreme pressure and strain that has risked and scarred the lives of countless individuals across the country as this war is not only impacted on the battlefield, but in the systematic bombing of hospitals, schools, malls, theaters, apartment buildings, homes, key water and energy infrastructure, and more. Razom has supported doctors and hospitals in the hottest regions across Ukraine from the start, and will continue to do so.
In the span of nearly an entire year, there’s been a renaissance of NGOs in Ukraine that have stepped up in incredible ways (much like during the Maidan of 2013-2014 when Razom itself was born) supporting a vibrant civil society. Razom has supported these grassroots organizations in Ukraine from the start, and will continue to do so.
All of these targeted efforts on their own, save lives, and when put all together, move Ukraine forward in winning this illegal war. Ukrainians have resisted and beat back this horror for 356 days now, but need your continued support today as ever before. Every time you donate, forward this to a friend, repost and tweet, call your representatives, rally, engage with the things that Ukrainians create – you become a part of the resistance and the victory.
In just the first half of February, Razom teams delivered a total of 132 orders to First Responders and Defenders, most of them in the east of Ukraine. We also transferred 4500 IFAKs to a major military unit so that they can be deployed quickly in case of an escalated assault on the one year anniversary of the full-scale invasion. In the months of December, January, and part of February, Razom fulfilled 641 orders (out of 745 which also went to medical facilities and NGOs) of tactical medicine and communications equipment to First Responders and Defenders. We constantly monitor requests so we can respond quickly with the supplies needed most that save lives.
Each order makes it to the end user thanks to the effort of many hands. We are streamlining our processes so we can keep getting more efficient. Our Razom office in Lviv today was busy with people processing paperwork on deliveries that have gone out this week and preparing the next shipments.
Our support for the Ukrainian healthcare system is formalized under the project Razom Health, whose activities have evolved into a diverse set of programs and strategic partnerships designed to not only support the system during wartime, but strengthen medical care in Ukraine for the future in line with Razom’s mission. Here is a spotlight of some of our work over the past two months in gathering medical supplies, planning out the logistics of their delivery, and coordinating medical missions:
With grants from Americares and others, Razom Health was able to cover the costs of procuring, delivering, and installing backup hospital grade power generators and winterization equipment. So far three out of eleven generators have been installed (which includes training Ukrainian medical workers to use the equipment) and three oil heaters delivered in the Dnipropetrovsk region of eastern Ukraine.
Thanks to a grant and your generous donations, Razom Health was able to procure, set up, and distribute (with some still in transit to our warehouse in Ukraine) over 120 portable Butterfly ultrasounds so that doctors and paramedics on the front lines of the war can diagnose and treat patients faster, more accurately, and in a non-invasive way in wartime conditions.
In partnership with our friends and distribution partners Zdorovi in Ukraine, an anesthesia machine from Partners for World Health was delivered to a hospital in Dnipro.
In the aftermath of traumatic injuries caused by the war, many Ukrainian civilians are in need of durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches. Razom’s team of drivers continue to deliver these items (donated as a three-part installment from the Afya Foundation) to hospitals, rehab facilities, and nursing homes throughout Ukraine. In December, they made it to the Veterans Hospital in Kropyvnytskyi and Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro.
In partnership with Marsh Zhinok in Ukraine, who distributes prenatal vitamins as part of baby boxes for pregnant women, those who have just given birth, as well as women who are breastfeeding, we’ve been able to deliver 6 pallets of prenatal vitamins that will reach women in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions.
Over the holidays and well into the new year, our team has been distributing brand new scrubs from FIGS to boost the spirits of overburdened Ukrainian healthcare workers across the country.
Our Razom Grants project aims to support civil society at the most local levels across Ukraine. Non-governmental organizations, of which there are over 120 now that have received grants, address hyper local problems in regions that suffer most as a result of the war. During this winter season, our focus has been on electricity (which can be connectivity for school children, or warmth for the displaced and people in need) and basic humanitarian aid to regions in Ukraine that are experiencing the most extreme violence and destruction, i.e. closest to the front.
As of today, our team of drivers in partnership with our grantees have distributed 87 generators and 46 charging stations across Ukraine. They are largely for shelters, “Resilience Points,” humanitarian aid hubs, and institutions like PEN Ukraine International and Ukrainian Institute Kyiv. For example with Volonterska UA, we enabled them to deliver 14 generators as part of their goal to distribute them to every de-occupied village in the Kharkiv region where there is still no electricity. They were installed in village councils, administrative premises, medical stations, lyceums, cultural centers, hospitals, and more.
To get a sense of what life is like for civilians in de-occupied territories or towns that are on the front lines, one needs look no further than Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine [read our long-form blog post here]. Check out video footage from our grantees at Ukrainian Charity Alliance delivering aid there. One woman shares, “Along with the packages of humanitarian aid that you all deliver, you’re also delivering faith in that we are one Ukraine and that we are not forgotten.”
As we look ahead to the challenges in front of us, Razom has taken steps to systematize and scale our organization in order to better serve our mission, our projects, our donors, and our engagement with volunteers. For eight years Razom was a fully volunteer-run organization. In 2022, we started building a volunteer-driven organization with strong institutional support. Today this means transforming our Board into a governance board, compensating our CEO, and building out a full-time and part-time staff to support our programs sustainably. This month, we are also beginning our first-ever independent financial audit and continue to improve our systems and processes.
As we approach the one year mark of the full-scale invasion and of the intense sprint of our work together, we invite you to join people around the world to rally in support of Ukraine on Saturday, February 25th. We’re keeping a running list of rallies here, and if you’d like to get your city, town, or village added to it, please reply to this email. It’s vital to continue putting pressure on our governments and public to not be bystanders to the atrocity in Ukraine, to “defend the international legal order and peace project of the EU, to end an era of empire and weaken the prestige of tyrants around the world, and remind each other that democracy is the better system.” The list is a lot longer than that, and you can learn more here thanks to Timothy Snyder, a historian who specializes in the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe.
Join our advocates network to get the latest news from our Advocacy Team here: https://www.votervoice.net/RAZOMFORUKRAINE/Register There’s power in understanding key policy towards Ukraine to stay active and engaged with a war that’s impacted so many of us.
Thank you so much for reading this newsletter and hopefully passing it on, calling your representatives, joining us at events and rallies, and generously donating to our projects, and for showing your support for Ukraine. Stay razom (together).
P.S. – The 2022 tax receipts have now been sent out either by email or mail for donations totalling over $250 (please check your mailbox for the subject “Thank you for donating to Razom!”). If you have not received it, we might not have had your email or address, so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Tax Receipt” in the subject line and include your name and method of your donation.
Food security is a vital aspect of national security, and in recent years, Ukraine, with its fertile black soil, has become a significant player in the global agricultural market and established itself as the breadbasket of Europe. However, Russia’s invasion plagued Ukraine with war, and the ongoing conflict has disrupted the country’s agricultural industry and affected its ability to export its produce. In what follows, we aim to explore the relationship between food security and war in Ukraine and to understand the impact of the ongoing conflict on the country’s ability to feed its people and contribute to global food security.
Team members from near and far convened in New York for a two-day, action-packed program involving meeting other Razom teams and the Razom community at large to learn more about one another and do more great work together.
Friday was all about strategy and meeting with partners, including Renew Democracy Initiative and Razom friends at the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya and Ms. Yaroslava Sochka.
On Saturday, the Razom Advocacy Team presented its work to the Razom community and received updates on the ongoing developments of Razom as an organization. This event took place at the Shevchenko Scientific Society’s NYC headquarters. The Shevchenko Scientific Society is a Ukrainian-American scholarly institution incorporated in 1948 in New York that tracks its lineage to the Shevchenko Scientific Society established in 1873 in Lviv. Razom thanks the Shevchenko Scientific Society for hosting us.
The team then went a few blocks south in the Ukrainian Village to visit the Ukrainian Response Initiative’s new office space. Ukrainian Response Initiative was launched by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and assists newly arrived Ukrainian New Yorkers with legal services, translation services, social services, and other resources. During the visit, the Razom Advocacy Team met displaced Ukrainians and listened to their stories.
Finally, Tania Khodakivska, award-winning film editor and director residing in NYC, gave the team a guided tour of a new exhibit titled “Hi-Resolution: Ukrainian Culture and Contemporary Art Now” on view at the CUNY Graduate Center on 5th Avenue in New York. The exhibition was created by Oleksiy Sai, Nikita Kadan, and curator Ksenia Malykh in collaboration with the James Gallery. Admission is free, and the exhibition is open until February 18th. So please stop by and see it for yourself!
Thanks to everyone who joined the different sessions and coffee breaks and met with members of the Razom Advocacy Team this weekend.
Despite the horrors of the last year of Russia’s full-scale invasion and war in Ukraine, Americans – both of Ukrainian-American descent and from other backgrounds – have united together to advocate on behalf of our shared values of freedom and self-determination. In 2022, the Razom Advocacy Team was able to organize an advocacy network of more than 1,454 individuals. With all of your tireless support, we were able to achieve some notable successes throughout the year.
In 2022, our Advocacy Team members and our network of Razom Advocates held more than 526 meetings with Congressional offices to ask for critical support for Ukraine such as military aid, the strengthening of sanctions, and economic assistance. Meetings weren’t the only way our advocates reached out to their Members of Congress – they also sent 3,671 messages to Capitol Hill, urging Congress to declare Russia a State Sponsor of Terrorism and to label Russia’s actions in Ukraine a genocide, among other important advocacy messages. By joining our advocacy network, individuals can call, send emails, and engage with their lawmakers on Twitter. Sign-up for the Razom advocacy network here to take an active role in promoting Ukrainian victory.
Engagement with Congressional offices through meetings and sending messages via action alert are crucial for affirming the importance of supporting Ukraine. In order to facilitate these connections, Razom for Ukraine and our 42 partner organizations of the American Coalition for Ukraine hosted our inaugural Ukraine Action Summit in September of 2022. During the Summit, 270 advocates from 33 states met with their federal lawmakers’ offices on Capitol Hill for a total of 176 meetings with Congressional members and staff.
Social Media Engagement
Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram provide a low-barrier entry point for individuals wishing to get involved in the common goal of Ukrainian victory, making social media a critical tool that the Razom Advocacy Team employs in its advocacy. In 2022, our team launched several social media initiatives to raise awareness about the war in Ukraine that reached more than 150,000 individual accounts.
After the inception of the full-scale invasion, Razom for Ukraine began to organize weekly Twitter Spaces to educate listeners on the most relevant topics around the war. In 2022, we were honored to be joined by more than 40 invited experts speaking on topics that ranged from the recent military victories of the Ukrainian army to Ukrainian Independence Day traditions. You can join our Friday Twitter Spaces by following the Razom for Ukraine Twitter account.
If you’d like to follow current events in Ukraine and keep up with our initiatives, Razom provides daily updates on the most important events of the war on Twitter and Instagram, and our network of more than 100,000 subscribers helps to spread this information, further educating the public on what is important for Ukrainian victory.
Without critical partnerships with like-minded organizations and the support of advocates like you, these accomplishments would not have been possible.
Thank you to all of our advocates and supporters for making all of our advocacy work possible in 2022 – we could not have done this without your passionate phone calls, emails, tweets, and donations. We hope to continue this momentum into 2023 and work together to help achieve Ukrainian victory together.