One Ukrainian mum in Singapore shares how it’s hard to go to bed every night not knowing whether her parents in Ukraine will be displaced or alive the next morning. Plus read on for how you can help the Ukraine crisis
“My name is Mariya, I was born and raised in the sea-port city of Odessa, in the South of Ukraine. Like many other people in Odessa, I have mixed heritage: namely Jewish, Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Russian. I have been in Singapore for nearly 8 years, and both my children (a 5 and 3-year-old) call Singapore home as they were born here. My parents are in Ukraine now. I think of them every waking second. It is hard to go to bed every night not knowing whether they will be displaced or alive the next morning. My little girls make sure they pray for peace in Ukraine every night before they go to sleep.
I, like many other Ukrainians in Singapore and around the world, would like everyone to know the truth and help us defend the truth. The truth about what is REALLY going on in Ukraine. On 24 February 2022, at 5am, Russia started the full-scale invasion launching missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine. It is not a ‘peaceful operation’ as declared by Mr Putin and his government. The missiles are hitting residential buildings, kindergartens, medical facilities across the whole country. Russia claims they came to free Ukraine of Nazis. Well, I have to admit that as a Russian-speaking Ukrainian of Jewish heritage, I have never experienced any form of discrimination in Ukraine. In fact, we don’t need to be freed from anything, we are free and pursuing democratic European values, and Russia is trying to stop us from it.
The situation in Ukraine poses a threat to the entire Europe and stability in the whole world right now. All global citizens need to stand against this aggression, otherwise it can be at your doorstep tomorrow.
I check in every day with my parents who are still in Odessa. They are in good spirits, their belief in the Ukrainian armed forces and the support of the international community is very strong and it keeps them going. Sadly, there are no underground metro tunnels in Odessa to provide shelter. My parents live in public housing, similar to an HDB. They plan to wait out in the bathroom in case of shelling. Speaking to their granddaughters over video calls brightens up their days.
I truly appreciate many people in Singapore and abroad who have reached out to me offering help to my family in Ukraine or general help to the situation in Ukraine. There are multiple ways to help, from helping the Ukrainian army directly or supporting Singapore Red Cross humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Other than financial and humanitarian aid: awareness is what we need. Please speak and reach out to every Russian person you know about the situation in Ukraine. They have to stand against the actions of their government, speak to your diplomatic mission and your local government to impose more sanctions on Russian Economy. If you are a business owner – we would strongly encourage you to reconsider your operation in Russia or with Russian counterparts. Only significant impact on Russian economy can stop the Putin-destruction machine nowadays.” Mariya Prempeh, Ukrainian, living in Singapore.
Many of us feel devasted and helpless as we watch the news and social media coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II. The destruction of Ukraine worsens and the death toll and casualties mount. What can we do to help?
Stay informed with reliable sources
Fake news abounds and Russia has been using fake coverage to amplify its voice on social media. so be cautious about where you are consuming coverage about the Ukraine invasion and be careful not to amplify any fake news which can be harmful to civilians.
There are many large reputable international aid organizations, like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Rescue Committee, working in Ukraine where an estimated 3 million people rely on humanitarian aid and 850,000 are displaced. The number of internally displaced persons and humanitarian needs is expected to increase massively as the conflict continues to intensify.
Singapore Red Cross
Singapore Red Cross (SRC) has launched a public fundraising appeal from now until 31 May 2022 and has pledged to contribute US$100,000 in support of the ongoing humanitarian operations mounted by the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Donations will go towards the provision of relief supplies such as hygiene kits, family kits and household kits for the vulnerable who are displaced by the conflict. Donate to Singapore Red Cross here.
The Singapore Red Cross has also activated its “Restoring Family Links” (RFL) service to assist Singapore residents to locate their immediate family members who may have been affected by the disasters with whom they have difficulty in contacting. For assistance, please contact SRC.
The United Nations Children’s Fund says they are currently “working across eastern Ukraine to scale up life-saving programs for children.” Delivering emergency relief to the people of Ukraine with safe water, health care, protection from violence, and psychological support to children affected by the conflict. Donate to UNICEF here.
United Help Ukraine
United Help Ukraine is a non-profit organization that receives and distributes donations, food, and medical supplies to help support those living near the front lines of the conflict and internally displaced Ukrainians, anyone affected by the conflict, and the families of wounded or killed soldiers. Donate to United Help Ukraine here.