Sending Mama Love to Mothers in Ukraine
Photo: Francesco Malavolta/AP (original)
written by Kim Daly Farrell
Last month, I was struck by a photo that popped up several times in my LinkedIn newsfeed. Seven empty strollers sitting on a train platform in Przemysl, Poland, waiting for Ukrainian mothers to arrive.
It made me cry, and it made me proud to be a mom.
No matter how heavy the situation, a mother always seems to know what to do to make things feel a little better, a little lighter.
It made me think about what I could do to help those moms. To support those weary travelers, forced to leave everything behind as their homeland is ravaged by war.
I also thought of the mothers and families who can’t leave. The ones with children who have medical issues that require them to be connected to machines and a constant energy source.
I don’t have any money to donate. I’m operating a startup that’s barely scraping by. But I have a lot more than most and sending something tangible to moms, who could really use some support, feels like the right thing to do.
That’s why I sent 200 packages of Mama Love Chocolate Protein to Ukraine through Palm of Hope, a non-profit organization based in the U.S. that serves medically fragile children and their families in Ukraine and other eastern European countries.
Donating Mama Love Chocolate Protein to Palm of Hope
Palm of Hope is run by a network of volunteers across the U.S. and Europe, the majority of whom are mothers. The organization has been sending medical equipment, food, and other supplies to support children with disabilities, life-threatening conditions, and incurable diseases, and their families in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, for more than five years.
Recently, Palm of Hope has had to adjust their efforts as many of the families they serve in Ukraine are in high-conflict areas. Requests are increasing and getting things to mothers and children who remain in the country amid the combat has become challenging.
I handed off my donation to a volunteer, a mother named Tanya who spoke with an eastern European accent, on a bright, sunny Friday in north Texas. We chatted briefly as she pushed aside a frisbee and a pair of kids’ sneakers and folded down the last row of seats in her minivan to make room for the boxes.
“It sounds like everyone is leaving Ukraine, is it hard to find the families you’ve been supporting?” I ask.
“Yeah, the ones who can leave are leaving the country, but there are so many who cannot,” she replies. “And we are doing everything we can to reach them.”
We filled the back of her vehicle. She thanked me for my contribution, I thanked her for the role she plays in the organization, and that was it.
I got to walk back to my sturdy, brick home and make dinner for my family. Meanwhile, half a world away, women just like me huddle with their children in basements and bunkers.
Initially, the boxes of Mama Love Chocolate Protein will be sent to countries bordering Ukraine and to “green zones” in the country with no or low conflict. There, they will be sorted and passed out to families in the Palm of Hope system by volunteers willing to chance the drive further west and south in Ukraine, along humanitarian corridors.
Palm of Hope Supports Children with Special Needs
The families who receive help from Palm of Hope tend to be housebound in the best of times. Many of the children, like the sweet Ukrainian girl pictured here, have been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that affects the central nervous system and causes muscles to deteriorate. They often need ventilators to breath, feeding tubes to eat, and wheelchairs to get around.
As I type this, the shelling in Ukraine continues and NPR is reporting humanitarian corridors into some of the hardest hit cities, including Lviv, Mariupol, and Sumy, will not be open— intelligence reports are warning of Russian attacks along the routes.
That means life-saving supplies can’t get in, families trying to flee can’t get out, and the ones who must stay continue to be at risk of becoming casualties.
Peace talks are ongoing, but the crisis will not end when the Russian offensive eases up. And Palm of Hope will continue its mission.
“First [the war] needs to stop, and then Ukraine will have to rebuild,” says Tanya. “It will take a long time, but we will be here, and we will keep working.”
I’m so grateful for the tireless network of moms and volunteers getting supplies to mothers who are living under the most profound circumstances.
How You Can Help Ukraine Now
If you’re looking for a way to help the people of Ukraine, here are some trusted organizations currently accepting monetary donations:
- Palm of Hope — supports children with disabilities and their families
- Doctors Without Borders International — mobilizing teams in conflict areas to provide medical and humanitarian assistance
- UNICEF—provides children with access to safe water, nutrition, health care, education, and protection
- Project Hope — gets medical equipment and supplies to the front lines
- The Future is Now Project — a mom-lead organization (via The Plogging Association for Romania) that has pivoted to aid Ukrainian refugees
- Ukrainians United Against War — a non-profit collective coordinating efforts and resources to support refugees and the resistance
- Save Life/Come Back Alive Ukraine — supports the Ukrainian armed forces and military operations
Funds go a long way to get life-saving medical equipment and supplies to families on the ground. It also supports food programs, and relief for refugees in need of housing, warm clothes, diapers, generators, transportation out of conflict zones, and more.
I hope you will join me in praying for the safety of these families, the volunteers and mothers, and everyone in Ukraine.
Kim Daly Farrell is a certified health coach, former magazine editor, fitness fan, and mom to two amazing kiddos. She has worked for national media outlets, including Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Shape; and health and fitness industry leaders, including MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. Today, she calls the shots as founder and CEO of Mama Love LLC.
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