The work to provide assistance to refugees began with a meeting between the leadership of the Good Hands association and the refugees themselves in their places of accommodation. Women and children received business cards with Good Hands’ address and phone number. The day after this meeting, those who needed support began to come to the help center located on the territory of the Adventist Church.
Volunteers ensured the smooth operation of the warehouse. Here, you could choose clothes and shoes according to the season, toys for children, books, and bags. With the help of a group on one of the social networks, Adventists collected personal hygiene items, underwear, and sweets for children. Children staying at accommodation centers needed to organise evening leisure, so board games, constructors, developing books, coloring books, pencils, and felt-tip pens were prepared for them.
Volunteers of Good Hands also organized an open-ended action, “Message of Kindness”. Anyone can participate in this action. You need to prepare a small treat and attach a postcard or note to it with words of encouragement and support for the refugees. This will help forced visitors to the city feel they are accepted and ready to help. Some residents of Nizhny Novgorod started posting negative comments about refugees on social networks, and the Message of Kindness campaign was a response to these comments. “We accept you and are ready to help”—such a message exemplifies the displays of kindness.
People of different ages have already taken part in the action, from children to retirees. With messages of kindness, 300 kilograms of sweets, chocolate, honey, and cookies were handed over. Handwritten messages, Christian cards, and children’s drawings with kind words were attached to each jar, chocolate bar, or pack of cookies. And this way of support hit the mark; the recipients rejoiced at each message, took pictures with them, and quoted excerpts from relatives who remained in Donbas during this turbulent time.
Today, 20–30 people come to the Good Hands Help Center every week. There are many children among them. People need demi-season clothes and shoes. And the aid room, which is used to operate once a week, is now open to visitors five days a week. The hall is located on the territory of the Adventist Church in the center of the city. This picturesque place offers a beautiful view of the Oka River. The church’s facility is a beautiful architectural structure; it arouses interest among those who come; the guests inspect the hall for worship and ask questions.
“Interaction with refugees is reaching a new level: new long-term projects are planned,” says Olga Kozulya, head of the Good Hands volunteer association. “We are planning to organise holidays for children living in accommodation centres, training seminars for mothers, [and other] support. So the brook becomes a river.”
This article was originally published on the Euro-Asia Division’s news site