The number of refugees from Ukraine is now around 3 million. But for every person who has left Ukraine there are many who stayed. Some cannot leave; others do not want to. My second cousin Elena and her family are still in Sumy, Ukraine. The city was one of the first to come under Russian attack. There is daily fighting and explosions, and electricity and water infrastructure are periodically damaged (amazingly, regular repairs are also happening).

Elena, her husband Anatoly, and I are organizing an effort to give financial help to those who have stayed. As you will see from her letter to me below, there are many people whose presence is needed—doctors, vets, and volunteers defending the city against Russians—as well as those who currently have no source of income and need help. The city had over 250,000 inhabitants prior to the war. About two thirds of them have not left. While we cannot help them all, my cousin and her husband personally know a lot of people who need financial help for a variety of reasons and will ensure that the money goes to people who truly need it, and there will be zero overhead. (We will also keep track of who money was given to.)

You can transfer funds to me via PayPal: deryueT~[Qs}&L5cUEp^gin@il/(W+76w_mF’BQx$ If you don’t have PayPal or prefer to use a card, you can transfer money to me via my Buy Me A Coffee page. All funds I receive will go straight to Elena and Anatoly, who will then distribute them to others! (If you’re wondering why we’re not doing a GoFundMe, I can’t set one up without a bank account in the same country to which the money will be going.)

You might ask, are stores even open? Yes, they are. Despite coming under attack every day, Sumy is lucky to have basic infrastructure and economy still functioning. My cousin took some pictures at the store today, they are below if you’re curious.

Let’s give the city’s economy a much-needed boost by giving money to those in need!

Elena’s message proposing the fundraiser, translated:

Tatyana, Anatoly and I have been discussing at length how we could act as your helpers in the war effort… It seems to us that it would be very helpful (to put it mildly) to help those who stayed in the city financially, namely those people (categories of residents) we know personally who found themselves in difficult living conditions, and who provide our peace and livelihood now. These are: 1) members of the territorial defense force ([the brother of a cousin’s wife] fights and provides our peace (he bought all the uniforms, weapons, etc. himself; and so the entire territorial defense force is self-sufficient and aided by volunteers); 2) doctors who stayed and walk to work every day (the wife of [the man] who fights in the terrorist defense is a pediatric pulmonologist)…; 3) veterinarians (those who stayed in town, receive patients and take in dogs and cats abandoned by their owners who left) and an animal shelter; 4) schoolteachers, preschool teachers and university professors, who cannot work now and have to look for a source of income; 5) large families; 6) retired lawyers, who cannot carry out their activities under the circumstances and earn their bread (the courts are not working and everything associated with this too), and probably some other categories, which can be discussed further. Of all of these categories, we have people everywhere that we know personally and are confident that they really need this help and will use it for its intended purpose. I feel responsible for your good intentions and the intentions of the people who want to help in any way, and I am willing to monitor the intended use of these funds by forwarding you all reports personally.

Elena’s message proposing the fundraiser, original:

Танюша, мы долго с Толиком обсуждали, чем можем быть полезными в качестве твоих помощников в оказании помощи в военных условиях… Нам кажется, что очень бы не помешала, мягко говоря, финансовая помощь тем, кто остались в городе, а именно те люди (категории граждан), которых мы знаем лично, которые оказались в сложных жизненных условиях, и которые обеспечивают наш покой и жизнедеятельность сейчас. Это: 1) территориальная оборона (родной брат Ани-жены Бориса воюет и обеспечивает наш покой ( сам за свой счет покупал все обмундирование, оружие и т.п.и так вся терроборона находится на самообеспечении и помощи волонтеров); 2) доктора, которые остались в городе и пешком ходят на работу каждый день (жена брата Ани, который воюет в терробороне,- детский пульмонолог) и другие немногочисленные медики, которые не уехали; 3) ветеринары (те, кто остались в городе, ведут прием пациентов и забрали к себе собак и котов, которых бросили хозяева, которые уехали из города) и приют для животных; 4) учителя школ, воспитатели детсадов и преподаватели вузов, которые сейчас не могут быть на работе и вынуждены искать источник доходов; 5)многодетные семьи; 6) адвокаты на пенсии, которые не могут сейчас в силу обстоятельств осуществлять свою деятельность и зарабатывать себе на хлеб (суды сейчас не работают и все, что с этим связано тоже), ну и еще возможно какие-то другие категории, о которых можно будет говорить далее. Из всех этих категорий у нас везде есть люди, которых мы знаем лично и уверены, что эта помощь им очень нужна и будет использована ими по назначению. Я чувствую себя ответственной за твои благие намерения и намерения людей, которые хотят оказать какую-либо помощь, и готова проконтролировать использование этих средств по назначению, переслав тебе все отчеты лично.

Photos from a store in Sumy:

First photo is the line to get into the store. Some shelves are empty, but there is still lots of food available for purchase.

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