Senior journalist
4 minute read

Gift of the Givers ramp up donation drive for Ukraine

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo

Gift of the Givers is set to expand its Ukraine intervention amid the increasing cry for help, especially for medical support.

Gift of the Givers is set to expand its Ukraine intervention amid the increasing cry for help, especially for medical support.

The Pietermaritzburg-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) said its humanitarian support towards refugees and local residents is in increasing demand throughout the country.

The charity had announced earlier this month that it will be pleading for more support for Ukraine, especially in the form of baby milk, nappies, sanitary pads, food, warm clothes, blankets and other essential items, including medical supplies.

The organisation’s founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, said they started with volunteers in Ivano-Frankivsk and Dolyna on the relatively safer western side of Ukraine. He said they serve incoming refugees from the east and take care of orphanages.

Sooliman said Nataliya Venter, Ukrainian wife of South African De Villiers Venter, is the driving force behind Gift of the Givers intervention in Ukraine.

“Her efforts spread to Alexey in Kyiv, Ksenia and Andrey in Kharkiv, Yurii in Slavutych, Nazar in Mykolychy, Vitaly in Kherson, Olga in Sumi and Veronica in Zaporizhya; the network is expanding constantly. The mandate is the same: source supplies at discounted prices inside Ukraine, set up storage facilities, deliver food, bottled water, sanitary pads, diapers, warm clothes or personalised medicines door to door,” said Sooliman.

Sooliman said in other instances, beneficiaries come to collect items personally, being mindful of curfews and incessant bombing.

He said mattresses, blankets and food assistance for 650 refugees was a priority in Morshen, while 6 500 local residents and refugees are now awaiting food aid in Mykolychy.

Sooliman said the charity has started helping in both instances.

“Medical requests are increasing with Gift of the Givers having purchased an entire consignment supplying medical institutes in Kharkiv. The next delivery is earmarked for Chernihiv. The need for individual medicines is growing rapidly. Our teams are trying to assist as best and as far as we can,” he said.

Sooliman said the Ukrainian organisation, Partnering Smart Angels, has also increased the scope of their support exponentially.

He said the organisation receives supplies from parts of Europe.

However, he said, they need funding for fuel for their trucks and their seventy vehicles transporting these essential items from the west side of Ukraine to various destinations further in.

Sooliman said as Gift of the Givers, they have funded an initial 20 000 litres of fuel towards this process.

“The scale and scope of the intervention has grown dramatically as the number of volunteers putting up their hands to be counted at all these destinations continues to grow.

“Just when you think expansion has reached its peak, Help Ukraine Romania makes that important call to us requesting fuel support for Smart Angels.

“They have critical medical supplies and extend support to Ukraine from the south of the country.

“Gift of the Givers confirms the funding and the intervention expands,” said Sooliman.

He added that the offer to assist South African and African students wanting to come home still stands.

Meanwhile, the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) together with South Africans have raised R230 000 for Ukraine animal welfare organisations.

This comes after the organisation initially donated R30 000 and called for support in its efforts to help Ukrainian animal welfare organisations.

The NSPCA spokesperson Keshvi Nair said the Council would send funds to organisations that assist companion animals and also farm animals kept in sanctuaries. “The public may already be aware, but many of these organisations are unreachable, and have been for the last two to three weeks, due to the circumstances in Ukraine.

“It is becoming increasingly more difficult to make contact with welfare organisations,” said Nair. 

Nair said the NSPCA was also taking every precaution to ensure that funds are not placed into fraudulent accounts of scammers claiming to be helping animals in Ukraine.

She said they have already been warned by their colleagues overseas that this alarming issue is indeed on the rise.

Nair said the Council is working with other animal welfare organisations from the United Kingdom to source conduits for the money to be sent directly to the animal welfare organisations in Ukraine.

“It is impossible for the organisations to receive money from banks or ATMs.

“The NSPCA extends a heartfelt and sincere thank you to the South African public, especially those who we have not been able to thank personally, for coming forward to help the animals in Ukraine,” added Nair.

Nair added that the Council has also been asked to consider the future of animal welfare in Ukraine.

She said this is because when the war is over, many animals will need much help and organisations will have to be rebuilt.