Vienna Mission for Ukraine

2023/11/1 to 2023/11/30 Recap​

Published by Vienna Mission for Ukraine on

2023/11/1 to 2023/11/30 Recap


Pippa, St. Nicholas Project Manager, is working with donor groups including Rotary Club Maria Theresa Vienna, US Embassy, Vienna Family Network, and connecting them to children in the Team Vienna network through Matusya, Domivka, The Feel Good Store, Kleine Herzen, Zhuravno orphanage, Burgenland orphanage, Kogl Orphanage, Mureck Orphanage. Pippa is supported by Filipp, Orphanage Coordinator; Roxy, Psychological Support Program Manager; and Olga (The Feel Good Store), Cultural Adviser. The objective of VM4U children’s programs is to fill the gaps and urgent needs related to early childhood development and to make sure children do not fall behind. The St. Nicholas Project will focus on the supply of ‘toys’ and other essentials (coats, shoes, etc.) needed by children at-risk of falling behind (i.e., children whose mothers who come to Matusya and The Feel Good Store for diapers as well as displaced orphans). Roxy and the Psych Support Team (Alexandra, Inga, and Nataliya) are advising Pippa on the types of ‘toys’ which fill these needs for each age.


VM4U continues to the support the dormitories housing the homeless refugees who come to Vienna. Refugees initially report to Hostel Huttledorf (refugee center operated by Volkshilfe) located at Schlossberggasse 8, 1130 Vienna. While there, refugees are sent on a tour of Vienna including visits to the police station for registration, social services offices, and dormitories for accommodations interviews. If all goes well, the refugee will be placed in a long term government sponsored accommodation. A major obstacle to achieving this success is the accommodations interview. If a refugee misses an accommodations interview, then the refugee goes on the Funds Socialez Wien (FSW) blacklist, may lose their social benefits (including medical), and likely ends up on the street. That is unless a third party intervention occurs. If the refugee attends and passes the accommodations interview and does not immediately agree to moving into the offered dormitory accommodation, the refugee is immediately placed on the FSW blacklist. If the refugee attends and fails the interview (because the dormitory does not chose to accept them perhaps because they have a disability that cannot be accommodated), then the refugee goes on the FSW blacklist. Often when a refugee is FSW blacklisted, Hostel Huttledorf (or VM4U) intervenes by communicating with FSW and the refugees are given a second chance accommodations interview, however, after the second failed interview, the refugee will be put on the street. It is a very unforgiving system that is not well understood by the refugees. There are three MAJOR gaps in this system. The first gap is immobile refugees who are unable to physically attend administrative meetings, often because they are blind, disabled, ill, elderly, etc. The second gap is the refugee understanding of the system and the consequences of the decisions they are asked to make (i.e., refugees are led to believe they have choices when they really they have no choices; it is common for a refugee to decline a government sponsored dormitory accommodation which is offered to them while not realizing that by doing so, they are at that moment added to the FSW blacklist and will eventually be put on the street). The third gap is that if/when a refugee receives a government sponsored dormitory accommodation, they have no means by which to move their personal property from the refugee center to their dormitory accommodation, especially if they are blind, elderly, sick, disabled, etc.

VM4U and Hostel Huttledorf work together to operate the FSW system as it is designed – VM4U volunteers fill in the gaps in refugee transportation and translation using volunteer drivers, vehicles, and translators for ‘at risk’ cases where a taxi is insufficient.

The current recommendations to FSW to close these gaps are:

  • provide a reasonable means of transportation for ALL refugees asked to attended mandatory and inflexible administrative (and urgent medical) appointments
  • clear up the communication problems which lead to refugees being unnecessary blacklisted and put on the street
  • perform remote interviews between refugees at Hostel Hutteldorf refugee center and dormitories to facilitate accommodations interviews to (1) avoid unnecessary transit, (2) avoid misunderstandings about their accommodations options, (3) utilize the excellent staff and translators available at Hostel Huttledorf during accommodations interviews to clearly advise refugees about their options when making critical decisions, (4) significantly reduce the amount of time refugees are ‘buffered’ at the refugee center which increases the availability of beds and staff at the refugee center, and (5) reduce reliance on volunteers. It is understood that this may not work in all cases because dormitory accommodation of disabled people is a complex matter sometimes involving in-person evaluation.


During October, VM4U drivers have delivered two shipments of medical supplies raised by First Aid First Hand (FAFH) and VM4U and one Nissan Pathfinder raised by Team Fynn and VM4U to TacMed Ukraine. Also, Max, YOUkraine driver using the VM4U van has delivered medical supplies raised by YOUkraine to hospitals in eastern and southern Ukraine. On 11/8, VM4U donations were used to repair the FAFH Ambulance “Dymytro” operated by TacMed Ukraine. TacMed Ukraine reports the urgent needs of tourniquets and individual first aid kits (IFAKs). Operation Aid reports the urgent needs of ECG plates, mobile stretchers, oxygen concentrators, hemostatic pressure bandages, evacuations vehicles, and ambulances. No VM4U donations were used for medical supplies in November, only vehicle repair.


FIlipp has been monitoring the 3 displaced Orphanages in Austria and the 1 displaced orphanage in Zhuravno, Ukraine. Pippa, St. Nicholas Project Manager, is working to bring every orphan in our network receives a Christmas gift and that all their essential needs are met. VM4U is ready to support in the event that an urgent need arises.


Nathan and the VM4U Crew has been assisting The Feel Good Store with their moving needs as they move out from the Social Work Hub location. VM4U and The Feel Good Store continue to coordinate and deliver furniture. The VM4U van has also been supporting the Ptashka Art Project with their current exhibition (used to fundraise money for Ukraine). The VM4U is supporting YOUkraine and FAFH by delivering medical supplies to Ukrainian hospitals and medics. The Music and Football Programs in coordination with Domivka continue and the Arts and Crafts program will restart in December. The VM4U Van is aligning to assist UAID-Direct, if needed, to help with a large incoming shipment of medical supplies in Dec/Jan. VM4U has been coordinating the St. Nicholas Project with Domivka, The Feel Good Store, and Matusya. VM4U raised and shipped medical supplies and a Nissan Pathfinder to TacMed Ukraine and continues to work toward supplying an ambulance to TacMed Ukraine.


Roxy, VM4U Psychological Supporting Program Manager, and her Team, Inga, Alexandra, and Nataliya, continue supporting refugees here in Vienna. No further details are provided for privacy reasons. November’s activities included refugee support and advising on the St. Nicholas Project.


VM4U continues to provide medical support to refugees in Vienna including medical document translations, transportation to and translation at medical appointments, financial support for urgent medical needs (not covered by Austrian social services), and help finding doctors. Novembers activities involved providing refugees with translators and transportation.


Gebhard, Integration Program Manager, support complex cases involving local refugees who need to interface with local government and non-government organizations. This month Gebhard has support a refugee who needed to obtain power-of-attorney related to her mother’s medical needs and two refugees understand their very high gas bills and take next steps.


Nadiia, Music Program Manager and Instructor, continues to return refugee children to their music training. The program has 5 instructors for 12 children, thanks to volunteer instructors Joel (Saxophone), Emin (Piano), Mariam (Piano), Nadiia (Violin, Elementary music), and Rosa (Guitar). The program needs a keyboard. The music program is a partnership with Kimu Wien (@kimu_wien),VIMAC and Domivka. VM4U donations are used for instrument maintenance, instrument rental, and instruction materials.


Nathan, Furnishings Program Manager, continues to work with Olga, The Feel Good Store, to transfer furniture and appliances directly from donors to refugees on a regular basis using the VM4U van and Nathan’s van. The furnishings team, better known as the VM4U Crew, includes Pasha, Artem, Arkady, Anatolii, Jake, Jesse, Coach Oleksandr, Adam, and others. VM4U donations are used for van fuel.


Eileen, University Education Program Manager, is available to assist refugees apply and attend university in Vienna. In November, Eileen assisted one refugee who is working toward her university application.

11/1 to 11/30 VAN PROGRAM UPDATE

Nathan, VM4U Van Program Manager, coordinates the VM4U van activities and drivers including furniture deliveries, refugee relocation missions, donation circulation for The Feel Good Store, art transport for Ptashka Art Project, and delivery of aid donations from Austria to Ukraine for First Aid First Hand, YOUkraine, TacMed Ukraine, and VM4U. The VM4U van was used for 9 days in November to perform deliveries in Ukraine supporting the YOUkraine organization. The VM4U van was used to relocate the The Feel Good Store this month as well. VM4U donations are used for van fuel and maintenance.


Full scope refugees support, led by Super Svetlana, Case Manager, was organized for Natalia, mother, 60s, and her daughter, 40s, and their dog. VM4U met Nataliia and Oksana during the closure of the Haus Haidehof dormitory closure on 4/15. Nataliia had just returned to the dormitory from cancer surgery, was undergoing chemotherapy, and had no other choice but to go to the Vienna Arrival Center (refugee center operated by the Red Cross – now closed) to recover on a cot…until VM4U stepped in. Thanks to Robert and Maximilian, who provided short and long term accommodations, Natalia and Oksana stayed in a loving home and then in a donor subsidized apartment. The rest of the VM4U team, David, Artem, Nathan, Arkady, Anatoli, and others, took care of everything else so that Nataliia could focus on her recovery. Social Funds Wien (SFW) was obligated to find a long term apartment for Nataliia and Oksana during this time, which was never fulfilled. Nataliia made many unscheduled trips to the hospital during this time with cascading complications. Nataliia was not expected to pull through…but she did! As of 11/1, Natalia and Oksana have moved to Italy to live with family there. While many valued volunteers contributed to this outcome, this outcome would not have been possible without the substantial contributions from Super Svetlana, Robert, and Maximillian, who probably saved Nataliia’s life.


Svitlana, an older refugee undergoing chemotherapy with impaired mobility who resides at Hostel Huttledorf (refugee center and dormitory operated by Volkshilfe) got caught in the bureaucratic gears and was at risk of ending up on the street.

On 9/25, Hotel Huttledorf requested transportation support for Svitlana from VM4U. David, translator/driver/advocate, transported Svitlana from Hostel Huttledorf to Hotel de France and back for an accommodations interview. At the end of the interview, Svitlana turned down the accommodation because she preferred to stay at Hostel Huttledorf, before returning to Hostel Huttledorf. Unfortunately, Svitlana misunderstood that it was not a choice between Hotel de France and Hostel Huttledorf but between Hotel de France and the street. Exceptionally, Hostel Huttledorf was able to organize an exceptional 2nd accommodations interview with Fonds Socialz Wien (FSW) for Svitlana. On ??/??, Svitlana missed the 2nd accommodations interview at Haus Mira. Having declined Hotel de France and having missed the interview with Haus Mira, Svitlana was put on the Fonds Socialz Wien (FSW) accommodations blacklist. At this point, Hostle Huttledorf’s options are exhausted and Svitlana is informed that she will eventually be required to leave the refugee center. On 10/24 Svitlana contacts VM4U and requests support. Followup communications with Hostel Huttledorf confirmed Svitlana’s options were exhausted and she would be required to leave the refugee center in the near future. On 10/31, Michael, advocate, visited FSW at the Austria Center Vienna (ACV), and successfully arranged for an exceptional 3rd accommodations interview for Svitlana (and Yuliia, her niece – caretaker) at a Volkshilfe office. On 11/3, Adam, driver, and Ella, translator/advocate, transported Svitlana and Yuliia to the Volkshilfe office. However, there was a bureaucratic issue. Unfortunately, FSW was unwilling to discuss the issue over the phone and required us to return to ACV to have an in-person meeting. Adam and Ella shift changed with Michael who transported Svitlana and Yuliia to ACV where they met with FSW. The bureaucratic issue was resolved thanks to Michael. Michael, Svitlana, and Yuliia drove to the Volkshilfe office and successfully completed their accommodation interview. On 11/4, Adam, driver, will relocate Svitlana and Yuliia and their personal belonging to their government sponsored accommodation.


Dr. Elly, Operation Aid Head and Medical Lead, and Adam, VM4U Executive Director, have come in contact. Operation Aid has recently reorganized into two organizations, Operation Aid, led by Dr. Elly and focuses on ambulance operations and children’s programs in Ukraine, and Operation Change, led by Ludvig and focusing on humanitarian supply (i.e., vans). Both organizations are Swedish and from their social media reporting are shown to be volunteer organizations on steroids (i.e. really impressive). These are both great organizations to donate to. Dr. Elly is uniquely an OBGYN. Operation Aid’s needs right now are: ECG plates, mobile stretchers, oxygen concentrator, hemostatic pressure bandages, evacuation vehicles, and ambulances. VM4U/YOUkraine/FAFH/TecMed Ukraine and VM4U/UAID-Direct partnerships are parallel operations to Operation Aid and Operation Change. While VM4U’s financial streams are dedicated to our partner systems, the capabilities of VM4U (and Team Vienna partners) are at the service of Operation Aid and Operation Change.


Coach Oleksandr, Football Program Manager, and Coach Sergii continue to host football training for children ages 6-11 on Monday nights from 17:30-19:00 at the outdoor fields at Sport Center Donau City in cooperation with Domivka. For December, the training will move to indoor facilities. Field costs of €50/session were sponsored by Yvonne and John.


VM4U volunteers delivered Oleg’s insulin and diabetic supplies to hospitals in Ukraine using Nova Poshta, and individual first aid kits (IFAKS), sleeping bags, and sleeping mats TacMed Ukraine international volunteer medics.


Irmgard and Andrey were able to match a donor subsidized apartment with a family here in Vienna. Oksana is here in Vienna with her 22, 14, and 1 year old children from Mariupol. They were previously staying in a 2 bed room apartment with 9 people total. On 11/17, Irmgard and Oksana signed the apartment contract; Nathan used the VM4U van to relocated the family’s belongings and deliver a donated mattress. Adam drove the family to the Magistrat and Austria Center Vienna for administration and to The Feel Good Store for kitchen stuff and blankets. Additional thanks to Irina and David for their support in helping put this mission together. VM4U donations were used for van diesel.


Vladimir, translator, met Svetlana and her mother Svetlana in the hospital. Svetlana’s mother has dementia and has a growing list of urgent medical needs. However, because of the dementia diagnosis, Svetlana (mother) was not permitted to make medical decisions for herself and Svetlana (daughter) cannot legally make medical decisions on her mother’s behalf. Gebhard and other volunteers are supporting Svetlana to obtain power of attorney to facilitate her mother’s medical treatment.


David, Oleg, and Dima are all on-call to rush Dima to Innsbruck in the event a kidney comes available for transplant…or so we thought. On 11/10, David called to check on Dima’s status and discovered that Dima was not on the transplant list (!@#$). The cause of the mistake appears to be that the responsible doctor left his job without completing Dima’s paperwork. David and Oleg, Co-Case Managers, and their team including Hannah, First Aid First Hand, are working to resolve this very serious mistake and ensure Dima’s position reflects his actual waiting time. On 11/13, Dima received additional bad news in the form of a 2,300 EUR bill from Wien Energy. On 11/18, Elli, Oleg, Adam, Michael, Gebhard, and Irmgard investigated this bill, inspected the apartment, inspected and tested the meters, and interviewed other tenants in the building, one of which had an even higher bill. The investigation revealed that Wien Energy contracts are complicated to understand and may have very large monthly rate changes. The monthly bills in the past year were only ‘projected costs’ and the large bill received by Dima represents the end-of-year difference between the projected and actual costs; gas costs in winter of 2022-2023 were the primary source of cost overruns; the gas meters were changed out in both apartments during this period – which remains to be followed up as a possible source of erroneous costs; and the cost of gas has fluctuated by a factor of 2x during the past year which correspond to a factor of 2x difference between the projected costs and actual costs. On 11/30, Adam and Michael, advocates, accompanied Dima to Samariterbund and Volkshilfe offices, which may be able to provide some financial assistance in the future. The best option toward financial assistance appears to be through .


Lena, ACHF President, had a zoom meeting with Adam, VM4U Executive Director, to discuss potential collaborations. ACHF is an organization near Houston, Texas, USA, which links financial support to medical related projects in Ukraine. Possible collaborations include Fred, VM4U Reconstruction Program Manager, working with ACHF on the renovation of a hospital in Irpin; Roxy, VM4U Psychological Support Program Manager, working with ACHF on mental health projects related to veterans; and collaborations on medical supply procurement and delivery.


Adam, driver, using Michael’s car, transported Yevgenii (back injury), Olga, Lev, and Anatolii (post stroke in wheel chair) from Hostel Huttledorf (refugee center and dormitory operated by Volkshilfe) to and from the Police station for registration.

A VM4U van team brought Olga and her daughter Ksenia from the Przemysl Refugee Center to Vienna on 9 March 2022 where they stayed with Hatice, VM4U host family. Olga’s son Lev and husband Anatolii have just arrived in Vienna and now their family is reunited after 20 months of separation.


Susan organized a Thanksgiving fundraiser, hosted by Rotary Club Vienna Maria Theresa Chapter, for Vienna Mission for Ukraine and Kleine Herzen. More than 120 guest attended. Adam, Executive Director; Nathan Van Program Manager and Furnishing Program Manager; Nataliya, Psychological Councilor; Nina Grillier, Project Manager; and Jesse, Social Media Manager attended. Thanks to Susan and Ruth, over 1k EUR in donations were raised in addition to the estimated 2k-3k EUR raised from ticket sales. The donations are ear marked for the TacMed Ukraine Ambulance Supply Project.


Max, YOUkraine driver, is driving the VM4U van from 11/23 to tentatively 12/4 to deliver medical supplies raised by YOUkraine to Ukrainian hospitals in eastern and southern Ukraine and medical supplies raised by First Aid First Hand to TacMed Ukraine’s international volunteer medics. The van had a break down, specifically the hand break failed. Max will be returning with books for the St. Barbara’s library and Ukrainian chocolates for the St. Nicholas Project. VM4U donations will put toward the repairs.


On 11/24, some of the volunteers from the international community were joined by Father Taras, St. Barbara’s Church, and the refugees who they have served. Fathar Taras told the story of St. Barbara’s Church during the current war and how St. B’s was the initial gathering place of donations and volunteers at the onset. St. B’s was also the kitchen where many of the volunteer organisations were formed, including VM4U and YOUkraine. The refugees told their stories from the onset of the war and the role volunteers played. Father Taras also told us about the role of St. Barbara’s Church with respect to serving Ukrainian refugees over the centuries with an emphasis of a repeating cycle of war in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees coming to Vienna. The documentary is directed by Nicholas Rooney, former EU diplomat assigned to OSCE.


Fynn Watt, together with a Vienna donor, have raised a Nissan Pathfinder for Simon’s international volunteer medics at TacMed Ukraine. On 11/27, Ken, VM4U volunteer driver, rendezvoused with Team Fynn in Lviv, and drove the rescue vehicle from Lviv to Kyiv where it was received by TacMed Ukraine volunteers. Simon specifically requested the Nissan Pathfinder because it is known to fit the stretchers they use. Ken covered to costs of delivery.


Jesse and Alsu, drivers, transported 4 refugees (including 1 blind, 1 disabled, 1 mental impairment) from Hostel Huttledorf (refugee center operated by Volkshilfe) to and from the Police station for registration. Jesse and Alsu covered the costs.