​Sunflower Scotland – helping alleviate Ukrainian suffering: Steve Cardownie

I was recently in contact with Oleg Dmitriev, chairman of Sunflower Scotland, an Edinburgh charity that is dedicated to helping alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people at the sharp end of Putin’s illegal invasion.
Sunflower Scotland delivering hygiene products to 27 fostering families and 177 orphans in KrasnokutskSunflower Scotland delivering hygiene products to 27 fostering families and 177 orphans in Krasnokutsk
Sunflower Scotland delivering hygiene products to 27 fostering families and 177 orphans in Krasnokutsk

​Oleg informed me that the charity has so far delivered over 5000 aid parcels and helped 11,000 people in the frontline regions of Kharkiv, Kherson and Donbas. They also helped 1087 children, including many that had been orphaned and many with disabilities.

The organisation undertakes four key activities to help Ukraine: Delivering Ukraine-made aid to villages and towns within 20 miles of the front line, where people face the toughest struggles and as resources are severely limited particularly in these areas they are earmarked as a priority for humanitarian aid.

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Providing Ukraine-made aid to recently de-occupied villages where homes, shops, schools, roads and hospitals have been severely damaged.

Delivering medical supplies from the UK to hospitals near the front line and helping to save the lives of Ukrainian defence forces by providing frontline medics with medical supplies and evacuation resources for wounded personnel.

Sunflower Scotland ploughs its funds into direct aid – of the £71,247 in funds raised so far, £60,553 went towards supplies, £8452 was spent on travel to and work within Ukraine with zero spend on salaries for volunteers and activists in Scotland.

To cite an example of the dedication of the organisation’s volunteers we need look no further than Elvira Dmitrieva,.

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With a background in finance she is its treasurer and has lived in Edinburgh for the last 12 years.

Elvira decided to do more than just look after the books, so last May she drove an ambulance to front line medics in a Ukrainian battalion east of Kharkiv and last November she drove one of two jeeps loaded with equipment for the disabled, including wheelchairs and crutches for the Kharkiv Regional Trauma Hospital.

Her unselfish actions were recognised by the Ukrainian Armed Forces who presented her with a “letter of appreciation.”

Sunflower Scotland also purchases supplies locally in Ukraine, not only to support farmers and factory workers, but to make best use of its funds.

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Goods and supplies are 58 per cent cheaper, allowing the charity to help 2.4 times as many people as would be the case if they bought all the aid in the UK.

On the 23rd of next month (the eve of the second anniversary of the invasion by Russian forces) Sunflower Scotland will be screening the premier of a documentary in Edinburgh City Chambers.

Oleg informed me that “It tells ten stories from front line areas, showing the true struggle of the people of Ukraine and how Ukrainian and International volunteers risked their lives to help them.

"This unique film shows the obscure backdrop of the war which very few people in the UK know about. Sunflower Scotland is one of the ten stories featured in the film.”

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According to their website, Sunflower Scotland SCIO is a specialised Ukraine charity. Their HQ is in Edinburgh but they have staff in Ukraine’s frontline areas and, importantly, “Our trustees personally deliver aid to Ukraine. We know first-hand what’s needed.”

More information can be found at: [email protected] or 0131 358 5490

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