When the war in Ukraine started in March 2022, thousands of Ukrainians fled and crossed the border into Poland and other countries for safety and security.

Lions stand and discuss“The days leading up to the Russian invasion, everyone was on their nerves,” recalls Yaroslav Jasznik, a Ukrainian citizen. “Everyone was expecting something bad, but actually no one had ever expected that it would be that disastrous and that full scale.”

Jasznik, 29, lived in Kyiv, Ukraine, his entire life, but when the invasion began and after an artillery shelling about 15 miles from his home, he developed a plan for his family to leave. After a three-week journey, Jasznik, his wife, Ivanna, and their three young children arrived in Krakow, Poland, after crossing the Polish border.

The Jasznik family is only one story of thousands of families that fled Ukraine in search of refuge. When a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude happens, Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), are among the first to offer help.

Lions and refugees share dinnerTo date, LCIF has awarded 53 grants totaling more than US$2.8 million in 17 countries to support Lions’ projects to help Ukrainian refugees. Funds ensure Lions are there to cover a broad spectrum of refugee needs, including immediate survival needs, transitional needs for mid- or long-term settlement, and support for services to help them integrate into their new communities. The grant funds will support more than 230,000 refugees.

“Lions and LCIF should continue to help us because we have a lot of refugees in need,” said Lion Roman Monastyrskyy, a Ukrainian citizen and one of the Lions that answered the call to help his community.

Lions pack refugee kitsMonastyrskyy, who helped with projects in Lviv close to the Polish border, remembered when the war started, and he began receiving calls from Lions in Poland, Sweden, France, and Lithuania asking how they could help. In the beginning, with the support of LCIF, Ukrainian Lions provided refugees with warm food, clothes, and medical supplies in schools and hostels in Lviv, and then they started transferring food to families in the eastern part of Ukraine, where most of the conflict is happening.

Because of the increased need in some areas, LCIF awarded Lions in Poland the largest amount of grant funding, totaling US$1,289,789. Lions in Ukraine have received the second largest amount, US$895,000, to support refugees who remain in the country.

While LCIF grant funding is helping provide comfort to the refugees forced to leave their homes during this immensely difficult time, there are some challenges.

PDG Katarzyna Gebert, one of the Lions leading projects in Poland, says it is difficult implementing projects for the people of Ukraine because of their trauma and great sadness after their war experiences.

“Tears in women’s eyes, trembling voices, children’s sad faces, perfunctory stories about the atrocities they experienced or witnessed—the emotional sphere, the clash with the reality of war, suffering and the terrible fate of people whom Lions provide support is something unprecedented,” she said.

Together, Lions and LCIF can provide continued hope for refugees by donating to the LCIF’s Refugees and Displaced Persons Fund, which will help ensure that Lions are always there to help support refugees during their time of great need.

“Lions International do a great job supporting people of Ukraine who flee from the conflict,” Jasznik said. “That really makes everyone safe and truly makes a difference.”

To learn more about the continued effort and watch a video, visit lionsclubs.org/UkraineResponse.