Europe, February 2022
When the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine started on 24 February 2022, the board of the Holosophic Society International (HSI) immediately started communicating on possible actions the organization could take to help those in need.
On that same evening, the HSI Board held an online video conference with our teams in Ukraine to discuss actions to provide humanitarian assistance. It was an emotional meeting where everyone shared what was happening in the city they were living in. In some cities it was quiet, in other places they could hear the sound of missile attacks and long-range artillery.
The heartbreaking developments in Ukraine touched so many hearts deeply and moved many of our volunteers to step forward to offer assistance. The HSI Board quickly started to oversee the activities of our affiliated organizations in different countries in Europe, carefully coordinating the teams to focus on providing critical items in a timely manner. In several countries, the Ukraine embassy was contacted to find out how best to support the humanitarian aid efforts. The authorities welcomed the assistance and stressed the importance of avoiding efforts that do not align with prioritized needs. In particular, the authorities want to prevent tons of clothes or other basic necessities from getting wet in the rain and dirty in the dust or causing traffic jams at the border.
As the conflict in Ukraine escalated, people fled their homes seeking safety, protection, and assistance. Through close communication with our volunteers in Ukraine and Poland we were able to help people fleeing the humanitarian crisis and give them shelter at our retreat and city centers. We stayed in touch using messaging apps and phone calls, and some volunteers shared their homes. Some stayed overnight before continuing their journey westwards, others stayed longer as they worked out their next move.
Our Know Thyself as Soul Center in Mariupol was still relatively safe at that time and immediately provided refuge to a family that was living in an unsafe area. Although the center had planned to take in more refugees, it was unable to do so after the fighting intensified in Mariupol.
One of our retreat centers in Ukraine, Lighthouse Center® Luch, decided to provide shelter to families looking for a safe haven. Through word of mouth, friends and their families came to take refuge at Lighthouse Center Luch.
Our other retreat center in Ukraine, Lighthouse Center® Divine Coast also decided to provide shelter. However, at the beginning of March the surrounding region was closed off from many cities and regions. Some people who wanted to take refuge at the Lighthouse Center were unable to get there. One family couldn’t complete the journey because they didn’t have enough fuel for their car. Instead, they stayed in another city, Berdyansk, where they found shelter. Others chose to flee further west.
Meanwhile, the need for basic material, food and housing was rapidly increasing. Without hesitation, Lighthouse Center® Poland opened its doors to refugees and our teams of volunteers in Ukraine and other parts of Europe started to provide humanitarian aid.