Special Edition:
Ukraine and the O.F. Effect
At the International Meeting, we were happily reunited many of our countries' representatives, but particularly with some of our Ukrainian representatives. At just what seemed to be the end of the pandemic, Ukraine was attacked by Russia. This had--and continues to have--a profound effect on friends who have come through this organization.

You've heard of the 'butterfly effect,' no? Well, during the I.M., Irina Troyanskaya and Maria Alipatova shared the personal impact of the war in Ukraine and their own 'butterfly effect' stories. The thread through their stories was the way friends made through O.F. came through for them...the "O.F. Effect." These stories below come from each of them. O.F.A. thought they should be included in the newsletter, but then decided that they deserve more focus than a blurb as part of a larger edition. These stories truly stand alone.

We here at O.F. America ask that you take a moment to reflect. Reflect on the fact that whether or not you've maintained contact with your hosts and delegates, that you are invariably part of a intimate network of willing humans. Humans that will offer help in times of crisis. If you have yet to participate in O.F. and are a mere subscriber, then take this to heart: you, too, are already part of this organization. Crisis work isn't the mission of Operation Friendship, but it sure does exemplify the impact of connection and friendship...and that, our friends, is our mission.

~Your O.F.A. Board
First, a word from our friends:
I agree with every word on this video, but they forgot the main thing. Operation Friendship is an understanding that you are not alone in this world! When the war started, I was mentally broken, but words and actions of my friends from Scotland, USA, France, Hungary, Sweden and Germany helped me to stay strong.

When my mother escaped from Ukraine, it took her several days as trains was full. When she was close to Polish border, I contacted Ica and her daughter Krisztina, they live in Hungary, with a request to host her for some days as we could not find a way that she could come to me, to Spain. I was surprised and grateful of how fast family Toth reacted and opened their home for her.

Another example was with girl from France – Chloe. My close friend also escaped from the war and was looking for a place in France to stay for some days, relaxed and realized what was happening. Chloe within few hours found a very good family, who met my friend and made her feel safe for some days.
So, personally for me, OF become more than a friendship, now it is Operation Family.

Thank you. Merci. Köszönöm. Tack. Danke schön. Дякую.

~Maria Alipatova, Delegate
The devastating War in Ukraine started on 24, February of 2022 and completely changed the life of our family. After severe bombing, our 8-month-pregnant daughter and her husband fled from Kiev to the western border of Ukrainian to give a birth to a baby in a safer possible place. No words can be found to describe feelings of the parents, living in the occupied by russians Crimea, parents who felt effortless to protect their children.

Overwhelmed with fears and despair, I applied the OF international chat in social net shouting out for help and support. Fortunately I was heard and not only heard, I was offered any possible and impossible support and assistance for my daughter. Gaborne Toth (Ica) from Hungary and Andrea and Michele Kas from Bavaria offered shelter and medical support. My former student, who was travelling to Bavaria as OF guest and was volunteering in Czech republic when the war started, sent necessities for a baby. All OF members got united to help not only my family but all Ukrainians, who were and are fighting for their freedom. Sarah Roberts (Wales), Keila Flood Haskins(USA), Betty Coleman (USA), Janice Chaplin Arvesen(USA), Kristina Riley (USA), Aurora Dellstig and Eva Lycke (Sweden) and lots more people overseas, whom I hardly knew or have seen once in my life, provide us with moral, financial, psychological support. Without this support and solidarity we could hardly survive.

Personally, I couldn't survive living in occupied Crimea and working as a teacher. It was getting worse and worse as Russian lies and propaganda put on pressure on teachers if they speak aloud about war Russia brings to Ukraine, killing children and civilians, ruining towns. Finally, I decided to leave Crimea and applied for visa. Elisha Fisher from OF Scotland, whom I have seen during OF IM in Bavaria in 2018 for the first time, responded me: Go ahead! I’ll be nearby! Without any hesitation she did loads of work to find a sponsor for me and my daughter and newly born grandson, prepared necessary documents. When we arrived, Elisha helped to apply for benefits, open bank accounts and apply for a job. Elisha’s support, advice and encouragement helped me to move on and to feel less depressed and lost in new circumstances.

At present, my daughter and grandson (he’s now 13 months) have returned to Ukraine to be with their husband and father. I am currently living and working in Scotland. I work for the Council helping Ukrainian refugees to settle down and integrate in the new community. I do volunteering for the Ukrainians as a teacher of English helping to overcome language gap. I would like to say l am really blessed to be a part of Community called Operation Friendship. It’s not only about arranging entertainments for young people visiting different countries. It’s about real values like kindness, humanity, support, generosity, hospitality and the ability to share. The values that are definitely in great demand nowadays. You think I’m a dreamer? I am not the only one! I am extremely grateful to Operation Friendship, to real people, real Dreamers.

Yours in Friendship,
Iryna Troianska
We have O.F.A. members still helping and doing amazing things. One of them is Janice Arvesen, who never had children involved, but became connected to O.F. through hosting delegates attending the International Meeting in Bloomington in 2017. Janice sent this message in April in the aforementioned chat group:

"How are you and your family doing? I've made plans to join the group, Wrap Ukraine with Quilts, and make a trip to Krakow, Poland to teach Ukrainian women in refugee camps how to sew quilts and other items to use and sell at markets. When I first heard about this two weeks ago I investigated and signed up two days later! I'm super excited to help our friends in Ukraine with something tangible. The trip is May 26-June 3. Please keep me in your thoughts as I venture across the world!"

Wonderful, Janice! May you and Iryna have a wonderful reunion in Krakow, and may your work have a sustaining impact for the people you meet!
You can find many sources for ways to support Ukrainian people. Here are a few:

Impactful Ninja has a current list of some charities

NPR published a list in February 2022 that still stands

and the U.S. State Department keeps a running list of organizations
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