White Stork collaborates with various charity partners who share the same vision, namely providing urgent direct support to Ukrainian refugees affected by the Russian invasion.

The Bryan Adams Foundation was set up in 2006 by the musician and photographer Bryan Adams shortly after the tsunami struck southern Asia. The Foundation aims to improve the quality of people’s lives around the world by providing financial grants to support specific projects that are committed to bettering the lives of other people.

The Foundation seeks to protect the most vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals in society. It aims particularly to advance education and learning opportunities for children and young people worldwide, believing that an education is the best gift that a child can receive. The Foundation’s area of support is, however, broad and far-reaching, enabling grants to be given to wide-ranging needs around the world, particularly in education and for children in need.

Bryan and Andrew

Andrew and Bryan have been close friends for many years, and have collaborated on previous charitable projects unrelated to the Ukrainian crisis. Andrew is also a trustee of his foundation, which very kindly donated generously to the first White Stork trip. Given that they have the charitable infrastructure already in place, it seemed like an obvious partnership for White Stork.

Based in Cluj-Napoca in Romania,  this charity is currently providing invaluable 24/7 assistance to Ukrainian refugees by offering transport and free accommodation in the city. It has managed to secure hundreds of free hotel rooms and apartments to temporarily house refugees until they decide upon their onward destination. They also provide food and free medical assistance. 

On their last trip to Cluj, Andrew and Alex met with Octavian Raihu, an energetic 31 year old who runs the charity. They were very impressed with his no-nonsense approach to helping the refugees. Since the crisis began, the charity has helped over 3,000 Ukrainians to find free accommodation in the city, and assist where necessary with medical needs. For future trips to the border, we will be able to use some of the infrastructure already put in place by the association.

A dormitory in Cluj for refugees

O Masa Calda, meaning ‘A hot Meal’, has been operating in Cluj since 2013, providing hot and healthy meals to the homeless, vulnerable and those who have become marginalised due to mental health problems or addiction. Since its inception, they have expanded to several other cities in Romania. With the huge influx of Ukrainian refugees into Cluj-Napoca, they have temporarily shifted their focus to them. For the last month, O Masa Calda have been set up in the main train station, where large numbers of refugees are arriving every day.

White Stork met with the charity’s lead coordinator in Cluj, Raimonda Born, and her team. It was amazing to see how they have taken over disused parts of the station, turning them into canteens, children’s play areas, a first aid room, and large dormitories. They provide hot food and medical assistance to the refugees, many of which are just passing through before travelling onto their next destination. White Stork have donated to O Masa Calda to assist in their continuing efforts for the refugees.

Meeting the Masa Calda team

The Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR) is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit organization, active in Romania and internationally since March 2001. The Institute is made up of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO), the International Peace and Development Training Centre (IPDTC) and the Department of Education for Peace and Development (DEPD). The Institute works to support peacebuilding and the constructive transformation of conflicts through peaceful means.

PATRIR is run by Kai Brand Jacobsen who has many years of experience in conflict negotiation. He is married to Denisa who works for Global Lingo as a senior project manager in Cluj and is someone who has been extremely useful on the ground with advice and logistics. When Andrew first had the idea to come to Romania to help out with the crisis, Kai and Denisa were absolutely instrumental in advising on what supplies were needed, where to send them to, and who to deal with at the borders.