The Together Plan’s mission is community capacity building in the former Soviet Union countries through the lens of Jewish cultural heritage and education, with a current focus on Jewish Belarus. So why, we hear you ask, do we send humanitarian aid?
At first glance, sending aid somehow doesn’t fit the criteria of the charity’s mission – but look again and it starts to become clearer. The donations that we send are everything from clothes, shoes, baby equipment, arts and crafts resources, household items, bedding, blankets, sheets, linens and furniture and resources for community centres. Our aid reaches socially and economically vulnerable individuals and communities – helping people and also bringing people together. Disadvantaged families and individuals with special needs receive our support and through the project, members of communities are being shown the significance and value of volunteering as they help to allocate the aid. The communities receiving resources are becoming equipped to run their community projects and this helps people feel supported and less isolated. In these community centres people are learning to participate and play an active role in community life where the community projects focus on Jewish cultural heritage and education. Every action causes a reaction and that reaction leads to positive change.
On February 27th our small UK team took action and loaded 13.5 tonnes of aid at our storage depot in Watford. It was a cold, but thankfully dry day, and it took seven hours of hard and heavy loading to completely fill the lorry until it was packed to the brim.
Our incredible team of valued and dedicated volunteers lovingly and carefully collect, sort and pack every donation and take what they do seriously and with great responsibility. Our aid comes to us through generous donations from people from across the whole of north London as well as from Manchester – including beautiful hand knitted blankets and squares.
This is a charity project that simply could not exist without the supportof our volunteers and it is deeply rewarding for them to see the results of the fruits of their labour as each lorry is loaded and dispatched.
Sending aid to Belarus has become increasingly harder and more complex over recent years. During the Covid pandemic we forged on and navigated the challenges. Brexit brought even more new challenges, but we didn’t give up and now with the Russian military incursion into Ukraine – we have had to face increased haulage costs and more complexities in getting the aid to our beneficiaries, but still we did not give up and with a good old dose of determination and creativity – we kept going. Friends along the way stepped up to help. Even in the USA we have found helping hands…In Cary, North Carolina, members of the Beth Meyer Synagogue got together and held a film, borscht and pierogi evening and helped to raise some funds towards the transportation costs! A huge thank you to them for their support, with special thanks to Vesta Svendsen. With our sister charity/non-profit in the USA Jewish Tapestry Project it couldn’t be easier to make a gift or donation to support our charity projects.
Dmitry, the lone lorry driver, left our storage facility the morning of February 28th and began the 4500km drive to Minsk, crossing the UK border into the EU then the Polish border out of the EU, crossing into Belarus taking 7 days to reach the destination. In Minsk, our country Director Artur Livshyts with our team and a group of volunteers helped to unload the aid and we now look forward to seeing it all distributed to our beneficiaries over the coming weeks and months as we here in the UK start all over again to collect, sort and pack for the next lorry. Thank you to all our supporters, donors and volunteers who collectively make this incredibly important project possible.
Click here to watch the lorry arriving in Minsk.
Please contact [email protected] if you would like to make a donation.