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Q&A: Lincoln students host humanitarian drive for Ukraine
March 14, 2022
Siblings James and Emily Rehn, who are half Ukrainian, recently started a humanitarian drive in support of those living in Ukraine. Their mother was born in Ternopil, Ukraine, and they have a lot of family and friends who are currently living there. They traveled to Ukraine, and visited Kyiv (capital), Kharkiv (eastern city) and Lviv, Ternopil and Chernivtsi (western cities) last summer.
Cardinal Times reporter Cate Bikales sat down with the Rehns to hear their thoughts on the conflict in Ukraine and to learn more about their humanitarian drive.
James is currently a freshman at Lincoln, and Emily is a senior. This Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What’s your opinion on how the media is portraying the conflict?
The media is doing a good job of covering the current war in Ukraine and in the western parts of the world. However, Russia and its partnering/surrounding countries are not accurately portraying what is happening. Almost all Russian news sources manipulate what their citizens see on the news. These news sources show that there is no war, no civilians are getting hurt and that the Russian army is not attacking. Everything seems to be peaceful, when, in reality, it is the opposite. Families that are separated in Russia from their families in Ukraine do not believe that there is an actual, serious, war going on. They don’t believe their family is in danger and are forced to flee the country and/or hide in a bunker, especially if their family is living in the east of Ukraine.
How has reading/hearing about the conflict made you feel?
The war in Ukraine has made us nervous and scared for everyone in Ukraine. However, we know that Ukraine is a strong country full of brave and strong citizens that will come out of this war stronger than before.
What made you decide to start the humanitarian aid package drive?
Because we have roots and connection to Ukraine, we are well aware of the impact Russian aggression brought to Ukraine and how it has affected other European countries. Ukraine, the biggest country in Europe, is a country of 44 million affected people. Displacement of many people whose homes are ruined and who were forced to flee creates humanitarian need. We have a lot of relatives in Ukraine whose communities are sheltering thousands of displaced families, and from hearing what they and other people in Ukraine are going through, we wanted to help. In addition, eastern parts of the country that border Russia are seized and whole cities like Mariupol are hostages of Russian soldiers. They are in need of water, food, medications, necessities and other aid, but it is very hard to get this aid to them at the moment. We are trying to do as much as possible to help them.
Where will the packages be sent?
We are using the Meest organization for shipping. Their website is us.Meest.com. It is heartwarming to see how people care and help! Meest offices currently have 581 pellets waiting to be sent by air, and they are backed up with aid at the moment and will resume accepting packages soon.
What items are you looking for?
Donations and support are always needed, and there are a few websites where donations can be sent. You can help Ukraine by making a transfer from a payment card of any bank from anywhere in the world to:
1) Transfer to the National Bank of Ukraine:
2) Transfer to Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
- BENEFICIARY: The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine;
- BENEFICIARY ADDRESS: 6, Povitroflotskiy Pr., Kyiv, Ukraine, 03168
- IBAN – UA963223130000025307010029738
- BENEFICIARY BANK NAME: JOINT STOCK COMPANY
- «THE STATE EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF UKRAINE»
- Bank Address: 127, Antonovycha Str., Kyiv, Ukraine, 03150
- SWIFT: EXBSUAUX
- PURPOSE OF PAYMENT (Obligatory Remittance Information): Donation for the logistic and medical support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UA458201720313281002302018611)
3) Transfer to Ukraine House
- Name on the account: Ukraine House DC Foundation
- Account number: 435048350785
- Routings number: 051000017
- Zelle transfer: [email protected]
4) Humanitarian Aid:
- United Help Ukraine
- Razom for Ukraine (Together we are Ukraine)
- Ukrainian Congress Committee of America
- Come Back Alive
- US Ukrainian Activists
- Revived Soldiers Ukraine
Right now, big demand for medical supplies:
We are looking for:
- Non-perishable food (a big demand)
- Clothes and footwear for men/women/children
- Thermal underwear
- Hygiene products (women’s products, diapers, etc.)
- Blankets & Bedding
- Tableware (disposable)
- First aid and first aid kits
- Tents, sleeping bags, mattresses
- Stand alone lamps & candles
- Containers for liquids (canisters for water, fuel, lubricants with capacity of 10-20 liters)
- Protective gear (helmets, bulletproof vests, tactical backpacks, dry rations)
- For a full list, we recommend checking out the list on MEEST’s website, the organization we will be using the send the items to Ukraine
How much have you collected so far?
We have collected many boxes with many different assorted items, including clothes, shoes, food, toiletries, sleeping bags and more. We have already shipped about 25-30 boxes through the Meest organization in Portland. After sorting out last week’s donations, we’ve collected an additional 23 boxes that will be sent to stranded families in Kyiv, Ternopil and/or Lviv shelters for displaced families.
When is the drive ending, and where should people deliver items?
The drive ended this past week, so there will be no more boxes, but if anyone still has items that they want to donate, they can bring it to the office for James Rehn and say it is for Ukrainian humanitarian aid. It will then be picked up and delivered to a warehouse to ship out. We will also follow requested needs lists from organizations and people in Ukraine and will keep our community posted about them.
What other ways can the Lincoln community help?
The best way to help is by keeping awareness, educating yourself on what is happening, donating what you can and supporting the idea of democracy and freedom around the world.
What are you hoping to see change in the future?
We are hoping to see democracy and freedom win over the fascism and imperialism that takes away human rights from people. This war is not just the Russian war against Ukraine. Ukraine has fought against Russian aggressions on their own land for many years, and, while fighting for their human rights and democracy, they have also helped and contributed to the Western civilized world by constructing their democracy and freedom. We see the world’s democratic civilization united together in the fight against corruption against the limitations of others rights and cultures. We see Ukraine fighting for and defending their country in order to live and exist freely in their own nation. The whole world is standing up for the protection of human rights for the Ukrainian people against Putin’s immoral vision and aggression. We hope this unity won’t end, and that not only will the people of Ukraine’s freedom be respected, but also that everyone will be able to learn to accept people, whether it be their differences in cultures, or their difference in religions, nationalities, races or more.