The Russian invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine continue, unfortunately, to be in the forefront of much of the news. On the ground the situation is of course even more dramatic for people, whether they remain in Ukraine, in their homes or displaced, or whether they are obliged to seek safety in other countries. Visually impaired citizens are of course suffering greatly from the conditions on a daily basis.
As you have read in previous newsletters, EBU, thanks to the generosity of your many donations as members, has provided financial support to our member in Ukraine, and they keep us regularly informed as to how they are putting these funds to good use. The National Assembly of People with Disabilities (NAPD) and our Ukrainian member have been spending money on targeted assistance for people with vision impairments. What follows are some examples, amongst many, of they ways in which the funds provided have been able to alleviate to some degree the pain and suffering of visually impaired Ukrainians.
Perhaps the most direct example is the fact that, on the night of May 27-28, 40 drones were launched to target Kyiv. All of them were shot down by the Ukrainian military forces. The wreckage of one of the drones damaged an administrative building of the Ukrainian Society for the Blind. No one was injured as it was at night and there were no people in the building, but funds were provided to carry out emergency repairs to the building.
Damaged property is one story, but there are of course many individuals who are suffering and have needed help. In the Sumy region alone, ongoing shelling has made living conditions terrible difficult for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, not all of them can leave for safer cities due to their specific circumstances. One such person is Mrs. Valentyna a totally blind elderly woman who also suffers from diabetes. She needs to buy expensive medication and is immensely grateful to EBU for the financial assistance, thanks to which she is now able to meet her vital needs.
In the same region, Vladyslav, a blind man, lives alone on meagre benefits making it near impossible to make ends meet. He also expressed gratitude for the funding received enabling him to fulfil his daily necessities. Others in the Sumy region have also seen their conditions improved through the funds from EBU.
Elsewhere, a man with severe sight loss from Kyiv whose family had fled the country, remained as his relatives were trapped in Kharkiv. His vision deteriorated, and the funds from EBU enabled him to undergo an operation to partially restore his sight. Also from Kyiv a family who had always helped others with disabilities for many years, received help for an 80 year old family member with eyesight problems due to cancer. The funds helped to pay for medication.
There are many such moving and inspiring tales provided by our contacts in Ukraine, but we would like to end this brief report on a positive, cultural note.
The NAPD provided 500 euros to support 5 children with disabilities who took part in the “International Low-Vision Song Contest”, arranged by the Association of the Blind of Germany (DBSV).
Liza Moskalenko won the contest. She has allowed us to use her photo.
The tales above, and many other similar stories, illustrate of course the difficulties faced by Ukrainian people, but also their immense courage in the face of aggression. We hope that you can take heart from this and see that your contributions to our EBU funds for Ukraine are put to good use, and perhaps encourage further donations, because, unfortunately we are in this for the long haul and our Ukrainian visually impaired brothers and sisters will need more help going forward.
The NAPD expresses its gratitude to EBU for the provided targeted financial support to people with visual impairments. As you can see, our collective efforts can make a real difference. In that sense, we renew our call to make contributions to our Solidarity Fund dedicated section to helping Ukraine. Please get back in touch with Lars Bosselmann should you need further information.