ORANTA – Associação De Apoio À Comunidade Ucraniana Em Portugal
Most of the members of the Association are Ukrainian migrants who moved to Portugal. On a horrible day of 24.02.2022 when Russia attacked Ukraine, we felt the need to help our compatriots in grave danger.
It was a conscious decision that migrants made to leave their country and a prepared one. Unlike them, Ukrainian refugees did not make that choice and were not prepared for it. A great tragedy made them leave their homes. They need assistance and support of experienced people who will help them settle down, fight stress and anxiety, advise what to do in new surroundings.
Each of us has a lot of connections in Ukraine (relatives, friends), all those people in need. There are many, who suffered from war, who are defending the country or are engaged in volunteering. And we all have a strong feeling of companionship, a longing to fight for justice.
Association helps all Ukrainians in need on the territory of Portugal due to the urgent necessity to leave Motherland:
- protection of rights, support and promotion of integration of Ukrainians and their children into Portuguese society;
- providing legal advice and assistance in establishing relations between Ukrainians and local authorities in Portugal;
- promoting the process of linguistic and cultural assimilation of
Ukrainians and Portuguese citizens;
- giving support to parents and their children with physical or mental disabilities;
- cooperation with other foreign organizations or associations to provide necessary assistance to Ukrainian citizens in Portugal.
The Association also provides humanitarian support to the Armed Forces
HISTORY AND ACTIVITIES
Since February 24, 2022 we have been working as a public initiative, on July 22, 2022, we legally formed Oranta, an association for support of Ukrainians in Portugal, which includes 9 members of the Association Council, most of which are Ukrainian migrants.
Assistance to refugees
When the russian invasion of Ukraine started, we worked as individual volunteers from Algarve, coordinating our activities through Facebook groups to help evacuate Ukrainians from Poland to Portugal. We continue carrying out this activity together with providing organizational and consultative assistance concerning the life of Ukrainians in Portugal. Later it became clear that the refugee’s relocation was only the beginning of a difficult adaptation period to the new country. The vast majority of the newcomers are women and children, that is a more vulnerable layer of society, which requires special assistance and support.
Thus, a group of volunteers switched to helping refugees in legalizing, translation, document processing, obtaining social assistance, housing.
Assistance to the Armed Forces
In addition to evacuation of citizens we started fund-raising to help the Armed Forces with emergency aid vehicles at the beginning of May.
The first two cars were bought on funds, raised from the first charity festival and sent to Ukraine in early June 2022. Then we started looking for cars and funds to repair and maintain them.
Four ambulances were presented by the Association of Fire fighters in Portugal and sent to Ukraine in November 2022. They have their expiry date, are considered outdated and due to cancellation according to Portuguese laws. But they are completely functional, wholly equipped and are suitable for work at the frontline. Fundraising is carried out with the purpose of their maintenance, repair and transportation.
Algarve Ukrainian Children’s Center in Almancil
One of the main tasks was to enroll kids in local schools. For many children it was a stressful period, because they did not know Portuguese, had no friends here, felt lonely. Respectfully, the idea of creating a special space, where Ukrainian children could communicate, have creative lessons (drawing, chess, singing, table tennis), practise Portuguese.
In April, Algarve International School provided the necessary premises for the establishment of the Ukrainian Children’s Center, where classes and clubs for children of Ukrainian refugees are held on Saturdays.
The Municipal Lole Chamber also announced that it would help the Center by providing free buses to children from neighboring towns unable to get to the Center.
Partnership was offered by Grupo ABC, who conducted classes for the smallest children aged 2 to 6 years.
Between April and October 2022, more than 80 families attended classes in the center. In autumn there were fewer people and children, because most of them returned to Ukraine. Now some of them have arrived again because of infrastructure shelling and power cuts. And now we are waiting for a new wave of refugees in winter.
We plan to increase the number of days per week when children visit the Center to enable children to do homework after school and to engage in art therapy.
Rehabilitation of victims
We also plan to develop a rehabilitation direction to help the wounded arrive and for their rehabilitation. Negotiations are under way with local medical institutions.