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Ukrainian Canadian community launches new initiative to support children in Ukraine

Posted on May 20th, in Covid19NewsFeatured

May 20, 2020. The COVID-19 Children’s Relief Initiative was launched today as an online appeal to provide support to children in Ukraine in need of basic supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost 100,000 children in Ukraine were living in government-run residential institutions or rehabilitation centres prior to the quarantine announced on March 11, 2020. In an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus approximately 50,000 children were sent home to their biological families, many of whom are unable to provide or care for them.

“These families are in dire need right now because tens of thousands of children were sent back from government-run institutions to family residences for isolation purposes,” said Mykola Kuleba, the Ombudsman for Children with the President of Ukraine.

“Currently thousands of families are unable to provide basic food and hygiene supplies to their children,” said Mr. Kuleba. “With your support, these vulnerable children can remain where they belong, at home, with their families.  Information gathered during this time will guide the creation of a long-term strategy”.

Donations are now being accepted to support the purchase of food packages and hygiene kits for these children and their families in Ukraine. These materials will be distributed by social workers as they visit the families to assess the health and well-being of the children.

This initiative is being led by Help Us Help and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. It is supported by Meest Corporation and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, in partnership with the Ombudsman for Children with the President of Ukraine.

Donations to purchase these kits can be made to either Help Us Help or Canada-Ukraine Foundation and are eligible for tax receipts.  The project website can be found at

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation was established to coordinate, develop, organize, and deliver assistance projects generated by Canadians and directed to Ukraine.  Help Us Help is a member of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and since 1993, has distributed over $25 million in charitable aid to projects and organizations engaged in education, literacy, arts and culture, social work, civil society, and humanitarian aid.

All food packages and hygiene kits are curated by Meest in partnership with Ukrainian retailers and distributed throughout Ukraine by Meest Express directly to social workers. Packages and kits can also be purchased directly through Meest’s eCommerce website is a new online service, powered by Meest, that allows users to purchase goods and gifts online for their relatives and friends back home in Ukraine. Meest Corporation Inc. was founded in Toronto in 1989 with the main goal of uniting the Ukrainian diaspora abroad, in Canada, with the homeland, in Ukraine. True to its goal of strengthening ties between Ukraine and the Diaspora in Canada, Meest has long been a sponsor of humanitarian aid shipments from Canada to Ukraine and has a long-standing partnership with Help Us Help and Canada-Ukraine Foundation in delivering aid all across Ukraine.


Ukraine has among the highest numbers of institutionalized children in Europe. The majority of these children have families that are unable to provide or care for them. 

Just under 100,000 children were living in residential institutions or rehabilitation centres prior to the quarantine announced on March 11, 2020. In an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus approximately 50,000 children were sent home to their biological families.  There is great concern that, due to a lack of support from social services in place, these children and families will endure additional hardships during the pandemic.   

Mr. Kuleba has long been an advocate for Ukraine to take steps in transitioning from a society that puts parentless or neglected children in institutions, to one with an extensive Social-Care network that allows children to safely remain in their homes or to enter into foster care.

The pandemic has brought about an opportunity for Ukraine to begin this transition by better understanding the needs of the families of children that have been sent home. 

About Deinstitutionalization (DI) Reforms

In 2017, the Ukrainian government adopted the National Deinstitutionalization (DI) Reform Strategy and Action Plan, which involves supporting families and creating favourable conditions for the upbringing of children. While a pilot DI reform project was launched in the Zhytomyr region that same year, the full dismantling of the orphanage system is planned for 2026. 

For more information:

Krystina Waler, Interim Executive Director Help Us Help

Tel: 1-416-627-9941 Email: [email protected]