For 25 years, ORT UK has remained committed to supporting the education of over 8,000 students, staff and their families at ORT’s schools and training centres in Ukraine.
However, given the extreme situation, our current priority is to ensure that the emergency needs of our Ukrainian community are being served. It is for this reason, that we have made the decision to partner with World Jewish Relief, in support of their ‘Ukraine Crisis Appeal.’
World Jewish Relief are proactively working with their 29 partners in Ukraine and are responding to emergency humanitarian needs within and beyond Jewish communities. ORT UK fully believe that by uniting with the agency best placed to deliver and provide aid, we can ensure that our ORT beneficiaries will receive the help they urgently require.
We know how unusual it is for a charity to ask their donors to consider donating to another charity, but these ARE unusual times. None of us know how long this situation will continue, but as soon as we are able to, ORT will focus on rebuilding our Jewish schools in Ukraine. In the meantime we’ll also continue to fundraise for ORT’s educational projects around the globe and in the UK.
We urge you to join ORT UK in supporting the World Jewish Relief ‘Ukraine Crisis Appeal’ at this very distressing time.
Thank you for your support.
ORT UK, Chief Executive
ORT supports seven schools in Ukraine, in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Belaya Tzerkov, Odessa and Zaporozhe, and two in Kyiv.
These schools educate more than 3,000 full-time students. ORT also runs KesherNet centers, which support unemployed women with job training, as well as an education center in Kyiv and a technology center in Dnipro.
All ORT schools in Ukraine are closed and mobility is limited. After 25 years of building schools and training centers in Ukraine, there are now more than 8,000 people who rely on ORT as part of their daily lives. Since the start of the conflict, their lives have been upended by rockets and sirens, which go off very often.
World ORT is continuing to act as a lifeline for Ukrainian students and their families, more than two months into the conflict.
To date, ORT has provided more than half a million dollars of financial aid, with more to come to provide for the delivery of essential items including medicine, food, water and ambulance services.
Our schools and educational programmess in the country remain closed, but online classes are being offered to students and a number of Seders took place virtually during the Passover holidays. It was even possible to go ahead with some small events in person in some locations.
Around 40% of ORT school families have left their homes, either moving abroad or to Western Ukraine. Of those now abroad, around 30% of ORT students are attending online lessons while others are enrolling in our schools across Europe, including in Spain, Bulgaria, Italy and the Baltic states.
Our schools in Zaporozhe and Odessa are under greatest stress. ORT in Zaporozhe has welcomed refugees from nearby areas such as Mariupol and has built up stocks of drinking water as well as some food and medical supplies.
A much-needed mental health counselling initiative is underway to address the trauma experienced by children due to the distress they are experiencing.
World ORT’s Kfar Silver Youth Village in Israel has welcomed around two dozen Ukrainian students to the boarding school. Many of the children have arrived with the recent struggle to escape fresh in their minds. Some show signs of PTSD and are receiving counseling and social services, as well as Hebrew lessons to help them learn the language and acclimatize.
“Historically youth villages in Israel were created to care for Jewish children fleeing Europe in the 1930s. With the influx of Ukrainian students seeking a safe haven, Kfar Silver is once again here to cater to them and help them rebuild their lives. We are proud to continue to help the refugees, carrying on the tradition of our predecessors.”
Amos Gofer, Kfar Silver CEO
Ukrainian ORT students who have left the country during the ongoing conflict are improving their English language skills via ORT’s Virtual Volunteers programme. Initiated during the pandemic, the programme has been extended to offer educational opportunities to students who have been impacted by the violence.
In one case, a teenage ORT student from Kyiv, who is now being hosted by a family in London, has joined online sessions with an ORT supporter, Elda Schwartz, who is volunteering from Baltimore, Maryland (pictured above).
Mrs. Schwartz shared that she has enjoyed helping the girl during these initial weeks of their conversations together.
“It is hard for me to fathom her knowledge of what is happening in her home country,” she said. “We do not discuss specifics but I ask if she has spoken to her family as she has mentioned them. They talk every day and they always say they are okay.”
Mrs. Schwartz said the girl was at first quite withdrawn but the classes are helping the teenager. She is an artistic student and is now starting to draw again. Mrs. Schwartz prepares presentations to help with English vocabulary and they watch music videos together.
“I am really fond of her and I think we have a good connection. What is happening in Ukraine is heart-breaking. If I can do this it is a small token – but it is far more than just ‘English conversation’ classes – it is friendship and caring.”
Kyiv 141 ORT school students have initiated an Instagram page where students in Ukraine will be sharing their stories and photos of their life during the war.
One of the aims of the project is to keep an archive of their experiences, and to help students to keep in touch, share their support and stay informed of what’s really happening. The student’s IT teacher, who is now in Western Ukraine, is assisting the students. She has also initiated a Google form where students, families and teachers can indicate their needs, so that ORT can help.FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM