Nova Ukraine: Supporting Ukraine in Crisis and Beyond
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Donors and volunteers from around the world continue to ask how they can best help the people of Ukraine endure the Russian invasion, which began a month ago. Aid is steadily arriving in the country from foreign governments, and major international relief organizations are making the humanitarian and refugee crisis a top priority.
For Nova Ukraine, a small nonprofit in the Bay Area, the focus has always been the people of Ukraine — and their work continues. Founded in 2014, the organization has worked with volunteers and partners to help meet a multitude of needs in the country—from providing humanitarian support during earlier conflicts, to underwriting scholarship opportunities, to bolstering Ukrainian civil society and democracy.
It is a mission that is deeply personal for Igor Markov, a member of the organization’s volunteer board of six. “Being on the board of Nova Ukraine allows me to feel more connected to the people of Ukraine and Kyiv, the city where I grew up. It allows me to help people survive, and help the country resist the senseless, brutal Russian aggression.”
Even before the recent Russian invasion, Nova Ukraine’s mission was ensuring that Ukrainian civil society had a future.
That same passion can be felt throughout the organization; Nova Ukraine’s volunteer base has grown substantially over the past few weeks. Before the war, the organization had ten active volunteers. It now has over a hundred people across the U.S., Europe and in Ukraine all lending a hand, not to mention the many new donors they have attracted. In 2020, the group made grants totaling about $335,000 across the country. In the month since the invasion this year, they have raised $11 million. So far, they have distributed about $5 million in funding for relief and assistance like first aid, medication, food and other basic needs.
By accelerating its humanitarian efforts, Nova Ukraine is providing vital supplies and logistics to refugees, internally displaced people, and those remaining in cities like Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mykolayiv. The organization is helping get food distributed within Ukraine and delivered to the country’s elderly. Some of the supplies are being collected and sent via commissioned cargo planes to Poland, where it is transported over the border by eligible volunteer drivers. Nova Ukraine is also making direct donations to response groups on the ground in the country. They recently helped purchase an ambulance in the city of Zhytomyr and funded an ongoing pet rescue and rehousing effort in Kharkiv.
Stateside, the group is bringing together supporters for in-person rallies and events. “Rallies are exceptionally important in a democracy,” says Markov, who often speaks at the demonstrations. He notes that not only do the events raise awareness about the war and economic sanctions, they also help generate conversation and connection among attendees.
Nova Ukraine continues to balance immediate relief efforts with its original focus on the country’s long-term stability. According to Markov, that goal is still to “help people in Ukraine and make sure Ukrainian civil society has a future.” It is something he and others have strived for even before the war. In recent years the organization has provided vital COVID-19 relief supplies and equipment, supported the country’s national student math Olympiad team and helped translate and publish Ukrainian literature. The group hopes to return to activities like these soon. Whether they are providing aid in a crisis or strengthening civil society in more peaceful times, the work is the same: building connections and community, so, as Markov puts it, “the people of Ukraine don’t feel alone.”
Aly Semigran is a Content Specialist at National Philanthropic Trust. She has been writing and editing professionally for over 15 years, with articles in Billboard, Well + Good and Mic, among many other notable publications. In addition to her editorial background, Aly is currently getting her Masters of Social Work degree from Temple University. She resides in Philadelphia with her dog.
NPT is not affiliated with any of the organizations described herein, and the inclusion of any organization in this material should not be considered an endorsement by NPT of such organization, or its services or products.
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