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Generator and water filters meant for Ukraine: ‘We help in which the need is greatest’

It might still be midwinter, but Emmeke and Guido are already getting yourself ready for spring. ‘A lot of people are fleeing regions where there continue to be daily attacks, like Kherson. At the moment, there’s less requirement for water filters, nevertheless people go back in spring to work their land, much more filters will be needed. And we must prepare for that now. ’

The war has left lots of people in Ukraine without entry to electricity or running water. The need is especially great in places that have recently been liberated. The Dutch embassy in Kyiv supports organisations that can rapidly make a difference to local areas, like Stichting de Leeuw Kyiv (The Lion Base Kyiv). Guido van Engelen and Emmeke Vierhout spoken to us about their own work.

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Image: © Stichting de Leeuw Kyiv

The power slashes also affect the water provide. ‘No electricity often means no running water, ’ Guido says. He is worried, because pipes can easily freeze whenever temperatures plummet in winter, causing irreparable damage. Combined with devastation of water refinement plants, this creates a shortage of safe drinking water. ‘As a result, lots of people are dependent on surface water, like waterways, ’ Emmeke explains. ‘But the water is often heavily contaminated because of the war – there’s debris in it, and lifeless bodies. Which makes the risk of illness even greater. ’ In recent months the foundation has delivered hundreds of generators to Ukraine. The entrepreneurs collect them in the Netherlands and after that transport them by van to Ukraine. ‘The large generators are sent to hospitals, army bases and other essential infrastructure. The smaller ones are usually distributed to households, ’ Guido explains. The priority is to send generators in order to areas where there is no power whatsoever. ‘We help where the need is greatest. Even a small generator helps: people can use it to charge phones and torches. ’

Stichting de Leeuw Kyiv

With the help of local volunteers, the foundation has already distributed 10, 500 water filters in Ukraine. The filters are created locally. ‘We’re responsible for fundraising and coordination, ’ Emmeke explains. ‘The buckets are usually produced in Ukraine, and a local foundation called Save UE oversees filter assembly plus distribution – work that’s largely done by internally displaced people. ’ Russian assaults have destroyed much of Ukraine’s electricity supply. ‘In Kyiv the disruptions often just last a few hours, but in a number of other places there’s no electrical power at all, ’ says Guido. ‘There are villages exactly where people have had no power for weeks. It’s unimaginable. ’

Hundreds of generators

En route to the Netherlands, Guido and Emmeke reached out to other Dutch business owners who’d had to flee Ukraine. ‘We immediately got together to create a fundraiser, ’ Emmeke tells us. ‘We’ve all obtained extensive business networks and know the country well. As a result, the first consignment of foods, clothing and other aid products arrived in Ukraine within a 7 days. ’ Since then, the entrepreneurs have joined hands within efforts to help Ukraine. ‘We’d already set up a base: Stichting de Leeuw Kyiv, ’ Guido, the seat of the foundation, explains. The original aim had been to promote Nederlander language and culture within Ukraine, but he recommended adopting humanitarian goals rather. ‘That was the quickest alternative, ’ Emmeke says. ‘It often takes weeks to put together a new  foundation. Keeping the existing structure meant we could immediately take action and get donations. ’

Safe drinking water

Guido has lived in Kyiv meant for 30 years and works in real estate. When Ukraine was invaded he drove right to the Netherlands. ‘I’d made a pact with my family: in the event that war breaks out, We leave. ’ Emmeke still left with her children that will same day. She plus her husband Kees have already been living on a farm in central Ukraine for the past fifteen years.

Ten thousand water filters

News product | 24-01-2023 | 12: 37 In the coming months the foundation hopes to send out another 10, 000 water filters in Ukraine and supply as many communities as possible with generators.

Preparing for spring

Emmeke contacted two other alumni from Wageningen College. ‘They designed cheap and relatively simple water filters, consisting of two buckets and a ceramic filter element that eliminates bacteria. ’ The filters can be used to purify rainwater, water from lakes and rivers, and even snow. After a week in Kyiv, Guido joins the long queue of vehicles at the Polish border. He is just brought another consignment of generators from the Holland to Ukraine. ‘They only let ten cars via an hour. So we’ll be here for a while, ’ he sighs. An air raid siren wails in the background, but Guido isn’t too worried about missile strikes. ‘Statistically, there are very little chance of a strike happening right here. In the south and east of the nation it’s a very different tale. They’re hit by missiles every day. ’

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