Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Father Vitaliy Novak, the Chair of Depaul Ukraine. Father Vitaliy has been leading our humanitarian response in Ukraine, driving trucks full of aid across the country, to conflict-stricken areas like Kharkiv. It’s fitting that last week Father Vitaliy and Depaul International’s CEO Matthew Carter attended the Brave Ukraine event, organised by the Ukrainian Embassy in London.
Over the past month Depaul International has built a strong relationship with the Ukrainian Ambassador and we felt immensely privileged to attend this event. It was an opportunity for Father Vitaliy to speak to politicians from various political parties about Depaul Ukraine’s life-saving work.
Father Vitaliy was also an important guest at Depaul’s annual general assembly. It was a quick visit to the UK. Father Vitaliy is now back in Ukraine, making sure humanitarian aid gets to the people who need it the most.
I had the opportunity to interview Father Vitaliy while he was visiting the UK.
Welcome to England, how were things in Ukraine when you left two days ago?
“When I left Kharkiv people were still in great danger … there is shooting all the time and there is still a humanitarian crisis.”
“There’s so much need and suffering, especially outside of the cities, which have been neglected by the big agencies. We see the greatest need outside of the cities in the villages, and wider region, that’s where we are focusing.”
What difference are donations making to the lives of people in Ukraine?
“People can’t imagine not receiving aid from Depaul. It has been 72 days of not being able to leave their homes or bomb shelters.”
“I’m proud that people say Depaul’s food is fresh and tasty. They also know we are coming regularly, as they need food every day.”
“Our latest innovation is working with cyclists who previously delivered food for companies like Uber. They are now delivering food to the poorest of the poor, to elderly and disabled people who are often confined to their beds. The cyclists are proud that they are now delivering food to these people.”
What would you like to say to your friends and supporters who have been so generous?
“I’ want to thank everybody who has donated. It’s for people who are just like you, but they are in need. Behind the aid is all of you. We see the people behind the aid and we are very thankful. They see the aid and they think people have remembered us.”
Father Vitaliy thank you and have a safe journey back to Ukraine tomorrow.
By Mark McGreevy, President Depaul Group.