Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ISKCON Relief for Ukraine
By ISKCON Relief   |  Jun 08, 2022
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Week 14, June 8th, 2022

ISKCON Relief – Figures

Devotees from Europe, as well as other parts of the world, have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavour to help devotees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 14 of this devotee care/relief effort.

ISKCON Relief – 

Food Distribution, Week 14 

Quantity (FFL and/or in temples and houses)
Czech Republic 2.500
Poland 3.500
Slovakia 370

 

Country Refugees being Hosted
Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) 35 (6 arrived last week)
Bulgaria 37 (incl. 18 children)
Czech Republic 77 (36 children)
France (New Mayapur) 3
Ireland 15 (incl. 4 children)
Poland 125 staying

41 transiting

Slovakia 18 (incl. 8 children)
Sweden 30 (incl. 17 at Almvik Farm)
Switzerland 62


Important General Message: 

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:

  1. ISKCON Germany 
  2. ISKCON Spain 

 

A Message of Acknowledgment and Gratitude

ISKCON Relief would like to express deep gratitude to the devotees of ISKCON Kanhaiyadesh for their generous donation towards the Europe Ukraine Crisis. These donations were and will be used towards providing shelter, prasadam (sanctified vegetarian food), basic necessities, and transport from the borders. We pray that Lord Krishna blesses all our donors and their families with health, peace, and bhakti.

 

Poland

Week 14 turned out to be quite busy; 41 devotees have transited through Warsaw. Around 1/3 of them decided to go home back to Ukraine to the Dniepro/Donbas region, which is not far from the frontline. Notwithstanding all the care is given and them being very grateful for it, they opted to go back home nonetheless. Mainly because they missed their families, their sons, and their husbands. We also had a large group of 12 refugee devotees arriving in Poland with the intention to stay and serve with the Polish festival tour! 

It is so wonderful that devotees continue with their support. We have been told by another charity organisation that pretty much devotees are the last ones standing when it comes to supporting refugees.

 

Belgium

The facilities at Radhadesh are at this point all full. There are also no other accommodation facilities available in the Radhadesh area. 

 

Italy

Villa Vrindavana near Firenze and Prabhupada Dham in Genova are full and cannot host more refugees at this point. However, there are still a few places at Villaggio Hare Krishna near Milano and also at Prabhupada Desh in the Venice area. These temples are requesting that it is important to make expectations clear from both sides (the temples and refugees) before arrival. If you are interested to go to one of these two temples then please get in contact with Parabhakti das through the ISKCON Relief website. http://iskconrelief.org/contact/

 

Spain

All facilities for refugee devotees coming to Spain are full and there is hardly any support from the Spanish government for Ukrainian refugees. Indeed some refugees want to leave and are looking for alternative places where they can take shelter. If your yatra has some places left, please contact Sukanti Radha devi dasi through the ISKCON Relief website. http://iskconrelief.org/contact/

 

Switzerland

The Swiss devotees have provided several places in the temple, as well as at devotee houses (19 devotee refugees), but almost all of them have now received accommodation from the government. So at the moment, 4 devotee refugees are staying in the temple, with 7 staying for a couple of weeks in devotees’ houses before they will move to their accommodation provided for by the government.

During the last week of May, the Ukrainian devotees relished 2 days of kirtan and Krishna-katha by one senior devotee, Nara Hari das. Devotees gathered at a beautiful location close to a lake to get to know each other a little more, sing beautiful bhajans, and of course share prasadam.

‘Thank you again for all the support and inspiration you share with your service 😌 and a special thank you for Nrisimha Yajna on Nrisimha Caturdasi…” writes Tulasi Rasa devi dasi, the coordinator for Switzerland, to Sukanti Radha devi dasi and the ISKCON Relief Team.

 

MEET THE TEAM – Members of the ISKCON Relief Team

In this part of our ‘Meet The Team’ series we would like to introduce you to the Refugee Coordinator for Bulgaria – Sacisundari devi dasi

Sacisundari devi dasi – ISKCON Relief Refugee Coordinator Bulgaria


Saci-sundari devi dasi holds a Master’s degree in management of education.
She is an experienced educator and course creator in the field of intercultural, informal, alternative, and academic education.
As a communicational specialist in ISKCON, Saci-sundari dd always shows a great interest in projects related with communication, events management and public speaking. As a micro-influencer on Social Media, she later developed her personal TikTok project dedicated to self-care and relationships.

She has wholeheartedly participated in the relief program from the very beginning of the Ukraine crisis. More than 60 devotees have received her help, support, and guidance, and she has developed a wonderful team of volunteers, including Raya and Slavik Novikov who are also very dedicated to the cause. At the moment 37 devotee refugees are under their care and shelter. 19 adults and 18 children. One of the devotees is fighting cancer and he and his wife need special care. Also, there are a few elder devotees with chronic diseases.

‘We are deeply grateful for the cooperation, patronage, and financial aid from ISKCON and all the sponsors! There is no more merciful heart than a devotee’s heart! Hare Krishna!’ says Saci-sundari devi dasi.

 

Photos

Week 13, June 3rd, 2022

ISKCON Relief – Figures

Devotees from Europe, as well as other parts of the world, have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavour to help devotees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 13 of this devotee care/relief effort.

ISKCON Relief – 

Food Distribution, Week 13

Quantity (FFL and/or in temples and houses)
Czech Republic 2.500
Poland  3.700
Slovakia  385
Spain 390

 

Country Refugees being Hosted
Czech Republic 77 (incl. 36 children)
France (New Mayapur) 3 adults
Germany 180
Hungary  50 (incl. 14 children)
Italy  18 (incl. 9 children)
Poland  120

(incl. 25 newly arrived)

Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) 29
Scotland  3
Slovakia 18 (incl. 8 children)
Spain 15 (incl. 5 children)
Sweden 32 

(incl. 19 at Almvik Farm)

 

ISKCON Relief – Reports

Important General Message

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:
1. ISKCON Germany
2. ISKCON Spain

UK
In the UK a regular stream of Ukrainian devotees are arriving from other European countries as well as from Ukraine itself. Devotees see the UK government’s Humanitarian Scheme to help Ukrainian Refugees as a viable option. These are the key points of this scheme;

Individual sponsors are required to provide homes or at least a spare room that is rent free for up to a year, and for a minimum of 6 months. In return, sponsors receive £350 a month. (Welsh and Scottish governments act as a Super-host ) Ukrainians arriving in the UK as part of this scheme are granted 3 years of leave to remain, with an entitlement to work, as well as access to benefits and public services.

Since last week devotees have arrived in Scotland and England. We are trying to meet them in person where possible, but we also consult them on the phone advising them on how to open a UK bank account, get a UK phone SIM card, apply for UK benefits, and how look for regular work. There are many work possibilities, and at the present moment in time, the UK employment market is pretty vast vacancy-wise.

A regular event now is many of the existing Ukrainian refugees, as well as new arrivals, are participating in our Russian-speaking Sunday program. All the devotees are very excited about London’s first Ratha Yatra this year, which will be held in Watford on the 11th of June.

Please contact ukrainecrisis@iskcon.london if you would like to find out more about the UK scheme, or join our group on Telegram where all the relevant information is pinned and many devotees are discussing their experiences.
https://t.me/+KcB7S6NmDbM2Yjdk

Latvia
Riga’s Food For Life Team, with the help of the Indo-Latvian Chamber of Commerce, is now providing hot meals to refugees from Ukraine three times a week. This is in addition to their longstanding Food For Life distribution program. The hot meals, warm milk porridge, and fruits are distributed in the main refugee Reception Center in beautiful Old Riga

This program is organized by Prema Tarangini dd who herself is a refugee, arriving in Latvia in March this year where she was nicely welcomed and accommodated at the ISKCON Food For Life Riga center. Before the war, Prema Tarangini dd was, for many years, a producer at The Kyiv theatre. Unfortunately, though, she had to leave because her home district was repeatedly attacked by Russian rockets. Prema Tarangini dd is also supplying refugees with information and guidance on how to register and get governmental support in Latvia. Speaking the same language definitely helps to better assist and guide the newly arrived refugees in Riga.

Greater Latvian society has so far accepted more than 25,000 refugees from Ukraine.

 

Pictures

 

Week 12, May 25th, 2022

Important General Message

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:
1. ISKCON Germany
2. ISKCON Spain

Poland
The confusion, uncertainty, anxiety and constant changing of plans is always present for our devotee refugees during this war which is now into its third long month. However in the last week, week 12, at least here in Warsaw those stresses and strains were certainly enhanced and very much visible in the behaviour of our transiting and indeed our resident guests. We had families coming from Ukraine who stayed with us for a day or two and then went to another country for a few days before returning. We also had families who seemed very settled in other countries and all of a sudden decided ‘This is not the place for us, we need to go back! Not sure where we will go, maybe Ukraine or somewhere else… ’

Our temporary house in Warsaw literally became the centre, the crossroad, with devotees coming out and then returning to Ukraine. They come back to our house because they find shelter and help, and they feel deep gratitude for our team’s care.
Those devotees coming back tried their best to make a home aboard but simply couldn’t. A lot of that is due to both language and cultural differences but also the fact that their husbands still can’t leave Ukraine. It has just been announced that adult men will not be able to for at least another three months. They have to stay and can be recruited to fight at any point up to the end of August.

We also had a lot of babies, two to six months old, with mothers traveling on their own with their tiny ones. If you ever had to deal with a baby you know even with the best facilities babies are both the cutest yet biggest challenges. Imagine tolerating such a journey while fleeing the warzone, caring for your children throughout all the travel, and then going back because you can’t manage without your husband.

It has been three long months now, but those challenges are as fresh as they were on day one. So please keep us in your prayers so we can continue our service supporting these wonderful devotees. But most importantly, please pray for them so their horrors become only memories from the past.

UK
Last week in the UK we welcomed eleven new Ukrainian devotees, four of them were children. One family was Krishnavedi dd with her two daughters who arrived in South London where they are now staying with a devotee family. She commented that she feels very welcomed and that she is very happy to have the status of a resident, as opposed to a refugee in Europe. She and her daughters attended harinama in central London and participated in the FFL distribution program. Her family, as well as many other Ukrainians, attended the regular Sunday Russian-speaking program.

Another family of 3 applied for the ‘Scotland as Super Host’ program and received their visa within four days. For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-visa-under-the-ukraine-sponsorship-scheme#apply

Furthermore, many interesting projects are beginning to develop in London, which will help Ukrainians to integrate into society by acquiring valuable skills and experience. Ukrainians arriving in the UK under the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme will be granted 3 years “leave to remain”, with entitlement to work, and access to benefits and public services. All hosts are vetted and undergo security checks.
For more information contact;
ukrainecrisis@iskcon.london

Scotland
Three refugees are living on the Karuna Bhavan eco-farm. The temple president Prabhupada Prana das, together with the refugees, have meetings with the local Council and Members of Parliament to help devotees secure government-sponsored flats.
‘Scheme opens for displaced Ukrainians’

Scotland’s offer to provide refugee and sanctuary to displaced Ukrainians, as part of the UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, is now open. Accessible through the UK Acting as a ‘super sponsor’, the Scottish Government’s route removes the need for applicants to be matched to a named individual before they are cleared to travel to the UK through the visa system. The Scottish programme is available as an option to Ukrainians when applying for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, by opting for the organisational sponsor route, and selecting “The Scottish Government” from the drop-down box in response to the question “Which organisation is sponsoring you?”

Scottish people willing to volunteer and provide homes for Ukrainians arriving through the sponsorship scheme are encouraged to sign up at the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ portal. Their details will be shared with the Scottish Government so that appropriate matches can be arranged while immediate support is provided to those arriving.

Ukrainian refugees can apply at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-visa-under-the-ukraine-sponsorship-scheme#apply

The process for applying:
Read the guidance there, then click “apply online”. After answering questions about whether you have a Ukrainian international passport, you will reach a page headed “Apply for the Ukraine Scheme”.
Read the guidance there, then click “Apply now”
On the next screen, choose “Ukraine sponsorship scheme”, then “I am being sponsored by an organisation” Click “Save and continue”
On the next page, headed “Sponsoring Organisation”, choose “The Scottish Government” from the dropdown box Continue with your application.

Ireland
The devotees in Ireland have some accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is though part of the UK, even though it’s located in Ireland, thus visas are unfortunately required.

 

MEET THE TEAM – Members of the ISKCON Relief

With the fourth part of our ‘Meet The Team’ series, we would like to introduce you to the Coordinator of Sweden – Sarasvati Gopi devi dasi

Sarasvati Gopi devi dasi – Coordinator for Sweden

 

Sarasvati Gopi dd is the coordinator for Ukrainian devotee refugees coming to Sweden. She is personally taking care of refugees transiting through or staying at the ISKCON Almvik Farm community close to Stockholm.

Sarasvati Gopi dd has been living in Almvik since 2003 together with her husband and children. She is a disciple of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami since 2007. Professionally, she has a bachelor degree with honours in Primary school education in 1999. She has also studied Swedish as a second language methodology at Swedish universities and is now working as a Swedish language teacher for Swedish schools, volunteers, and refugees. Sarasvati Gopi dd is furthermore a member of the Almvik board, a member of the local Child Protection Team and she is an assisting coordinator for international volunteers staying at the farm. Sarasvati Gopi wholeheartedly supports self-sufficiency and has been growing her own organic vegetables since 2004.
Since the beginning of March, she has been coordinating, receiving, and taking care of 32 devotee refugees from Ukraine. 19 of them, including 8 children, are staying at the Almvik Farm community today; ten are residing in Gothenburg, including a couple serving at the Govindas restaurant. For refugees living at the Almvik Farm, Sarasvati Gopi provides government-funded Swedish language lessons. Knowledge of Swedish can help the refugees to broaden their job opportunities. Furthermore, the refugees at Almvik get help and guidance in contacting migration services, getting medical advice or medical help, etc.

 

Photos

 

Week 11, May 17, 2022

Devotees from Europe, as well as other parts of the world, have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavour to help devotees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 11 of this devotee care/relief effort.

 

ISKCON Relief – Reports

Important General Message

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:

  • ISKCON Germany
  • ISKCON Spain

 

Prayers and Yajna

On the most auspicious appearance day of Lord Narasimhadeva last Sunday, May 15th, devotees all over the world got together to pray and hold kirtans for the safety and protection of the devotees and people in Ukraine. Praying also that this terrible war will soon come to an end. A special and protective Narasimha Yajna was conducted on the morning of His appearance in Mayapur for the peace and well-being of all those affected.

 

Donations

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj and His disciples for donating $11,000 towards the Ukraine Crisis in Europe. The donation will be used for basic necessities.

 

Poland

This week, 95% of all Ukrainian devotees arriving in Poland, came from Mariupol, and there are still quite a few on the way. Thanks to the protection of the Supreme Lord, we did not have any tragic stories so far, except for one:
At the start of the crisis, the team was contacted by a devotee that was visiting the Holy Dham in India with his daughter. He was very worried about the rest of his family, his wife, two children, and his elderly mother who were living in Mariupol. Our rescue team tried many times to contact them and get them out but they were unable to reach them. Thereafter, the father left his dear teenage daughter with a good friend in India and went back to Ukraine to help his family. That was 6 weeks ago! What we know to date is that he got stuck with his family in a Russian relocation camp but we have now lost contact. We pray to Lord Narasimhadeva for the safety of the whole family and that they can soon re-join with their daughter.

 

UK

Last week the UK Team welcomed nine new Ukrainian devotees, three of them were children. One of them was Alexandra, who was offered a place at the Radha Krishna temple’s ladies ashram in central London. She commented that her dream has come true and she is most happy to be there. Unfortunately, the ashram is very small and does not have any more facilities for now.
The UK also welcomed a family from Mariupol, Julia, and her daughter who shared with us their horrific experience of exploding rockets and landmines. Julia arrived directly from Ukraine together with her sister and her children who also were very happy to start a new life in the UK. Unfortunately, her husband is still in Ukraine but hopefully, he will be able to join them soon.

Organisers of the Russian-speaking Sunday programs are also looking after individuals and families who have arrived in the UK. They have created a special WhatsApp group as well as holding zoom and live meetings to keep on top of the refugee’s needs so that the local devotees can help them to adjust to their new way of life in the UK.

On Narasimha Caturdasi, many Ukrainian devotees joined the Maha Harinama with Kadamba Kanana Swami in central London. They also celebrated the Narasimha Caturdasi festival at the Radha Krishna Temple on Soho Street.

The following video gives important information for devotee refugees who want to come to the UK. It gives information about the government humanitarian program, as well as help being offered by ISKCON in the UK.

 

Ireland

The devotees in Ireland have some accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is though part of the UK, even though it’s located in Ireland, thus visas are unfortunately required.

 

Social Media

Please visit our newly created website at
http://iskconrelief.org/

Please follow us on our newly established Facebook and Instagram:
Facebook @iskconrelief
Instagram @iskconrelief

 

MEET THE TEAM – Members of the ISKCON Relief Team

With the third part of our ‘Meet The Team’ series, we would like to introduce you to the Chairperson of the ISKCON Relief Team – Praghosa das

Praghosa das – Chairperson ISKCON Relief Team

Praghosa das, a native of Dublin, Ireland, joined the ISKCON Soho Street temple in London in 1983 and then relocated to Dublin where he took initiation from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. He spent the early part of his devotional life distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, raising funds, and managing temples in Belfast, the island of Inis Rath, and a rural community in Wicklow, Ireland. Concurrently he and his wife, Goloka Devi Dasi, raised two sons, Sankarsana and Pancajanya and now the family has expanded with the arrival of three granddaughters.

Prior to that Praghosa das and Goloka devi dasi established some very successful Govinda’s Restaurants and a preaching centre in Dublin. Praghosa das, furthermore, is the creator, the driving force, and an active contributor to ISKCON’s website Dandavats.com.

Praghosa das was the first grand-disciple of Srila Prabhupada to serve as Chairman of the GBC body. He began his GBC service in 1997 as a deputy GBC member, but his ability to rise to a challenge, his quick thinking, his creativity, and a good sense of humor were all noted by the GBC body, and he became a full GBC member in 2001. His areas of responsibility cover some of the world’s colder climates: the Channel Islands, Denmark, England, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Wales. For three consecutive years, 2002, 2003, and 2004, Praghosa das handled decision-making as an executive officer in the executive committee of the GBC body. For that entire period, he also chaired the annual GBC meetings. His solid commitment to serving ISKCON in a significant way is further highlighted by his participation in the European Regional Governing Body (RGB) from its inception in 1997.

 

Pictures

 

Refugee Devotees in Bulgaria, Varna. The devotee giving class is Gauranga das who survived two heavy surgeries and is fighting cancer right now! He has an amazing spirit.

 

Nama Hatta Program in Slovakia at the house of Sarvasuka das, Director of Bojnice Castle, which hosts 12 refugees thanks to the arrangements made by Sarvasuka das.

 

Week 10, May 10, 2022

Devotees from Europe, as well as other parts of the world, have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavour to help devotees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 10 of this devotee care/relief effort.

ISKCON Relief – Reports

Important General Message

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:

1. ISKCON Germany
2. ISKCON Spain
3. ISKCON Hungary

VFS Global Services Sends Letter of Appreciation to ISKCON Relief Team

Last week our ISKCON Relief Team got the following appreciative letter from Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) Global for their outstanding relief work for Ukraine, including help given to their own employees in Ukraine. VFS Global has also sent a generous donation to help ISKCON with its important work.

Hare Krishna
On behalf of the VFS Global Leadership team and all our staff in Ukraine, I would like to thank you for your relentless support and help provided to our staff in Ukraine. We cannot express in words the respect and gratitude felt towards the ISKCON leadership team, all devotees, coordinators, and ground staff giving their all through the trying times of war. It’s not an easy task, but that’s even more reason for you to be appreciated and acknowledged for everything you do.

The war has come at a huge cost with thousands of innocent lives lost, millions displaced from their homes, and has destroyed so many cities. The socio-economic impact will be felt for many years to come. Your dedication and human kindness are making a huge difference in the world. You are amazing superhumans that deserve to go down as the true heroes of this dark time in our history. We pray to Lord Krishna to abundantly bless all of you who are working through these challenging times. Thank you once again for giving your strength to so many, and for your commitment to caring for the community.

Regards
Sumanta Rudra (VFS Global)

 

Poland
Last week more than 30 devotees came through, some stayed and some traveled on. Also, a big group came from Mariupol. There were a few men among them so they had to travel via Russia, Estonia, and other places, trying to find somewhere safe to cross into Poland.

When devotees approached one checkpoint in Russia, one of the soldiers unlocked his huge machine gun ready to shoot. The devotees started to pray and miraculously, by the Lord’s mercy, they got through. Having been saved from that danger, they are now resting in Warsaw, with full faith in Lord Krsna’s protection and shelter.

 

Slovakia
The historical Bojnice castle in Slovakia built in the 12th century has become the shelter and home for 12 refugee devotees. The castle, castle park, and “Garden house” are administered by the Slovak National Museum, SNM-Museum, Bojnice, whose Director is Sarvasukha das, a devotee of the ISKCON Slovak yatra. As the government of the Slovak republic decided to help Ukrainian refugees with accommodation, Sarvasukha decided to utilize the castle to help Ukrainian devotees. The employees at the castle have worked hard for two weeks to prepare the accommodation for the refugees. Today 12 devotees are staying at the castle and all their food is kindly sponsored by the government. The devotees arrived in three groups, two families with children from Charkov, and one young couple from Mariupol.

 

Ireland
The devotees in Ireland have some accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is though part of the UK, even though it’s located in Ireland and thus visas are unfortunately required.

 

Scotland
Local authorities have been very helpful and the Scottish people, in general, are delighted to welcome Ukrainian refugees. The Scottish government is offering a super sponsor scheme where people can become sponsors and help find suitable accommodation for those arriving from Ukraine. At present, the devotees in Scotland are exploring possibilities with the local MP to host more Ukrainian devotees.
Last week one Vaishnavi arrived at Karuna Bhavan (the ISKCON eco-farm in Scotland) after transiting through Hungary. During the coming week another refugee, Veronika, transiting through Czech Republic, is expected at Karuna Bhavan too.

 

UK
Last week ISKCON UK welcomed their first refugee to the UK!
These refugee devotees contacted ISKCON UK’s Ukrainian Crisis program then matched them with a UK host (a devotee family who has a spare room). This enables the refugees to receive visas to the UK. In turn, a visa grants them a 3-year residency with rights to work and claim benefits.
7 refugees have arrived so far, including one family with a 7-year-old son. One Vaishnavi is looking for options to relocate to the south of England.
A Russian-speaking Sunday program was held with Dhirasanta dasa Goswami in Holborn with kirtan, lecture, and delicious prasadam with some of the newly arrived refugees in attendance.

The following video gives important information for devotee refugees who want to come to the UK. It gives information about the government humanitarian program, as well as the help offered by ISKCON in the UK.

 

ISKCON Relief Website

Please visit our newly created website at:
http://iskconrelief.org/

 

MEET THE TEAM – Members of the ISKCON Relief Team

With the second part of our ‘Meet The Team’ series we would like to introduce you to the Refugee Aid Coordinator for Poland – Rasikendra das

Rasikendra das – Refugee Aid Coordinator for Poland

Rasikendra das met the devotees in 1991 and dedicated the next few years to book distribution.
In 1998 he joined the Polish festival preaching tour. Soon his organisational skills and exemplary service attitude as well as his ‘doing the needful mood’ were quickly recognized and thus he was invited to become part of their managing team.
At the Pol and Rock (former Woodstock) festival, he serves as the main cook and as the coordinator for prasadam distribution. At that festival each year, for over 25 years now, devotees in ‘Krsna’s Village of Peace’ have been distributing 150,000 plates of prasadam annually.

Furthermore, Rasikendra das help coordinate the devotees who are engaged on the Polish festival tour. There he also runs the onsite restaurant that is visited by hundreds of guests during each event. A lot of devotees serving on the tour used to come from Russia and Ukraine. With this experience, Rasikendra das was the best person to help with the present Ukraine crisis. He is also fluent in Russian, which is certainly a great asset when communicating with Ukrainian refugees.

 

Pictures

 

Week 9, May 2, 2022

Devotees from Europe, as well as other parts of the world, have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavour to help devotees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 9 of this devotee care/relief effort.

 

ISKCON Relief – Reports

Important General Message: 

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:

  1. ISKCON Germany 
  2. ISKCON Spain 
  3. ISKCON Hungary – (only 5 more places left)

Poland: 

We had a lot of gratitude this week. Messages of various kinds from different places: locally, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany.

Last week we experienced an amazing story of a lost daughter who was thankfully found again. Her family arrived in Warsaw after a traumatic journey and a few weeks of unbelievable stress. The family is; an elderly mum and dad, grandma, sister, teenage nephew, and little, very energetic niece. For weeks they were convinced their devotee daughter was dead. They went to look for her at her home only to see a hole made by bombs where their house once stood. They looked for her body or some sign of her but could find nothing at all. So then they went to the local ISKCON temple but only to find no sign of her there either, so at this stage, they had very little hope left. In the end, they decided to use a humanitarian corridor to Russia. By Krsna’s grace they managed to hide in a basement for a few days and then escaped to Estonia where they finally got their phone signal back and then, to their disbelief, they saw all the messages from their daughter whom they had given up all hope they would ever see again! The family called her right away and found that she was safe at the Copenhagen temple. She then advised them to call Rasikendra prabhu to help them with their journey.

Their daughter had also stayed with the devotees in Warsaw but then after some time relocated to Denmark. That whole time she was waiting for news from her family but they seemed to be lost, so she finally went to Copenhagen to join her devotee friends there. What a wonderful story of hope against hope! Just imagine the scenario, she thought the family was lost and the family thought she was lost  (indeed worse, they thought she had died)

Germany: 

The following message was sent from a refugee who received help from Rasikendra Das and the Polish team to transit into Germany:

“Once again, thank you so much for helping us and then getting us to Germany and for putting us in the presence of very wonderful devotees. They helped us with everything, both with work and with housing. So, from May 1, we are already officially going to work with a signed contract. We were also provided with housing and a good doctor was found for our pregnant sister and the children were placed in the best school. So, I can now write to you about this because I am very grateful to you for what you have done for us. The way you serve devotees who need help, Krishna and your spiritual master will never forget.”

That was the idea from the start; to help the devotees to settle and become independent. It is so rewarding to see that it’s actually happening

Ireland: The devotees in Ireland have some accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is though part of the UK, even though it’s located in Ireland and thus visas are unfortunately required.

UK: The following video gives important information for devotee refugees who want to come to the UK. It gives information about the government humanitarian program as well as the help offered by ISKCON in the UK. 

 

ISKCON Relief Website

Please visit our newly created website at:

ISKCON Relief Website

 

ISKCON Relief Team

Members of the ISKCON Relief Core Committee 

From this report onwards, we would like to introduce the ISKCON Relief Team to you. Today we will start with our Project Coordinator. 

Sukanti Radha devi dasi – Project Coordinator

Sukanti Radha devi dasi was appointed as the ISKCON Relief Crisis Management coordinator by the Euro RGB 9 weeks ago. She has worked hard to set up the structure to effectively manage the Ukraine Crisis for ISKCON in Europe. This includes a good communication system between the Euro RGB, the national coordinators and the ISKCON Ukraine management. Sukanti Radha devi dasi also set up the evacuation and exit strategies for the devotee refugees ensuring them a safe exit from Ukraine. 

Being a nurse by profession, care for devotees is very close to her heart, and together with Rambhoru devi dasi she set up a system providing education on compassionate listening, grief support and post war traumatic care. 

Sukanti Radha devi dasi is a disciple of HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaja and serves with the Temple of Vedic Planetarium as head of fundraising for Europe.

By profession, Sukanti Radha devi dasi a.k.a Sonitra Sue Singh is a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife, Nurse Educator and Registered Intensive Care Nurse with over 30 years of intensive care experience.

Furthermore, she is the author of the book “Conscious Wellbeing” and teaches well-being to nurses in the UK and internationally. She also enjoys energy medicine and went on to qualify as a Reiki Master. Her interest in alternative medicine led her to travel to Kerala and study Ayurveda where she obtained a qualification as a Panchakarma Ayurvedic Practitioner.

With her wide variety of knowledge and skills, Sukanti Radha devi dasi has nursed many members of Royal families from around the world including UK, Qatar, Saudi, and South Africa. Her clients also include several VIP’s and celebrities.

Recently Sukanti Radha devi dasi was appointed as the Head of the Nursing division for the newly launched BMA – Bhaktivedanta Medical Association. We are so delighted to have such devotee nurses with such qualifications offering such amazing devotee care services voluntarily. FYI the 12th of May is International Nurses day!

 

ISKCON Relief – Photos

The following photos show how the Polish Team has helped many devotees and families to find shelter in different countries.

 



Week 8 Report April, 25th, 2022

ISKCON Relief – Figures

Devotees from Europe and also other parts of the world have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavours to help devotees and refugees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 8 of this devotee care/relief effort.

ISKCON Relief – 

Food Distribution, Week 8

Quantity
Czech Republic 25,500
Germany 10,000
Hungary 3,050 plates + bread, sweets, and fruits
Poland  2,800

 

Country  Refugees being Hosted
Bulgaria 42 (incl. 20 children)
the Czech Republic 76 (incl. 35 children)
Denmark 31 (incl. 12 children)
Germany  180
Hungary 45 (incl. 16 children)
Ireland 7 (incl. 4 children)
Italy 17
Poland 46 (incl. 16 children) 

Over 1,300 transited in total from week 1 to week 8

Slovakia 18 (incl. 8 children)
Spain 53
Sweden 32

 



ISKCON Relief – Reports

Important General Message: 

The following centres have now reached full capacity and cannot receive any more refugee devotees until further notice:

  1. ISKCON Germany 
  2. ISKCON Spain 
  3. ISKCON Hungary – (only 5 more places left)

Poland:The Poland Team has started working with one foundation that deals with the relocation of refugees, mostly mothers with children. They organize free transport and find places for them in countries such as Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Last week groups of refugee devotees from Ukraine arrived who were engaged in Food for Life in Ukraine, looking after others in both temples and surrounding communities. They really did not want to leave Ukraine but considering the safety and the future of their children they decided to pack up and despite their aching hearts, they left. The next day the mothers got up, cleaned up the temporary house, and made pierogi (kind of samosas) for everyone. 

There was one day when there were so many new arrivals with literally no space anymore when Rasikendra das got a call from a devotee refugee to pick up her and her parents who are in their 80s at the station. The request was to accommodate them for one night before leaving for Paris and somehow Rasikendra das found a room for them. It turned out that both father and mother were amongst the top leading scientists in the Soviet Union, and they had traveled a lot and met a lot of interesting people.

When they arrived at the train station the mother took out an old pile of black and white photos and showed them to Rasikendra and then she started pointing at different photos and giving a commentary. “Look, this is me and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space and a really good engineer, we did some work together. And that’s me and my husband with Fidel Castro, have you heard of him? He was from Cuba. We were sent and had to do some work for him.” The family was very grateful for the help of the devotees in Poland and wrote many messages to Rasikendra with words of gratitude.

This story shows how many different people pass through our hands and how diverse ISKCON in Ukraine is. (See picture of the family below)

Croatia: In Croatia, the government is covering the costs of accommodation for refugees. As a result of that funding, the devotees got 4 individual flats for refugee families through the city council who also know the devotees. This allows the refugees in these flats to be independent and take care of themselves. ISKCON Croatia has provided them with some initial financial assistance with 200 Euros per family and 100 Euros for individuals. The government’s social security service also paid approximately 500 euros per family and approximately 270 euros for individuals. Three refugee devotees in Croatia have now also found employment. 

Ireland: The devotees in Ireland have accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is though part of the UK, even though it’s located in Ireland and thus visas are unfortunately required.



ISKCON Relief – Report: April 19, 2022

Week 7 – Figures

Devotees from Europe and even other parts of the world have tirelessly continued their sincere endeavours to help devotees and refugees from Ukraine to find shelter, care, and support. The following figures are for week 7.  

Food For Life – Prasadam

Distribution for Week 7

Quantity
Czech Republic 2,500 plates
Hungary 2,500 plates + bread and sweets
Poland  2,100 plates
France  100 plates

 

Country  New Refugees received

last week

Total Refugees Remaining
Bulgaria 2 42
Czech Republic 0 76 (incl. 35 children)
Croatia 0 14
Denmark 2 30 (incl. 11 children)
Hungary 0 43 (incl. 15 children)
Italy 0 17
Poland 37 Warsaw: 70 

Wrocław: 25

Wałbrzych: 30

Portugal 4 are on the way 4
Romania 2 transiting  0
Slovakia 0 16 (incl. 8 children)
Slovenia 0 5
Spain 4 35
Sweden 5 31 (incl. 20 at Almvik Farm)

 



ISKCON Relief – Reports

Devotee communities all over Europe and even in other parts of the world are sincerely trying their utmost to support and help devotees refugees from Ukraine. Not only are they supplying accommodation, food, clothes, and other facilities, but they are also helping refugees to deal with registration issues, school placements for children, as well as finding jobs for the refugees to help them to rebuild their lives.

Poland: Last week some refugee devotees traveled to Austria and even Japan. Additionally, a lot of paperwork and documents were filled in. Also, quite a few nice jobs came along from the Rasikendra’s contacts. A couple of our teenagers were admitted to the hospital with heart palpitations and difficulties with breathing, all signs of severe stress. 

The wonderful refugee team focused this week on organizing several fun-filled activities for the refugee children which made them very happy. The Wroclaw team headed by Nama Rasana and Jahnavi took all the refugee children and their parents for a day out to the Zoo. It was an unforgettable experience for them. In Walbrzych Krsna Sambandha and his glorious family celebrated his birthday by cooking a huge feast for their refugee team and then took them out on a hike in the beautiful nearby area. In Warsaw Rasikendra and Mathuranath took all the children to a fancy playground for the day. 

Czech Republic: Food distribution in Prague has increased significantly and last week 2,500 plates of warm meals were distributed to refugees. 

Slovakia: Devotees are considering renting or purchasing an affordable place in Slovakia to accommodate more refugees. This would be important considering the fact that many refugees want to go back to Ukraine after the war and would therefore like to stay close to the border. So far there is not much interest for devotee refugees to go to the US or Canada.

Sweden: The Danish devotees helped one mother with her two daughters travel to the Almvik Farm in Sweden. Additionally, two more devotees from Ukraine arrived at the Almvik farm last week. Now 20 refugees are at the Almvik farm and 11 at other ISKCON communities in Sweden. Devotees are organizing Swedish language lessons and the Ukrainian children have started to go to school. People from the nearby town Järna donated several bicycles for the refugee children and two shops are donating surplus food on pretty much a daily basis.

Denmark: In order to give space to ten mothers and their children, plus four male devotee refugees who arrived during the past two weeks from Ukraine, all but one of the brahmacaris have vacated the temple and are now staying with their families. “We are all serving them [the refugees] to the best of our ability, providing them with a variety of tasty prasadam, giving them new beds, blankets, bedsheets, and whatever clothes they need, including ordering many new saris, dhotis, anarkalis, gopiskrits, and chaddars, etc. from Vrindavan. We are also trying to find appropriate apartments for them to live in close to the temple.” (Kesava Priya dd)

Ireland: The devotees in Ireland have accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is though part of the UK, even though it’s located in Ireland and thus visas are unfortunately required.

Italy: 17 devotee refugees are staying at different temples in Italy. One Ukrainian devotee in Villa Vrindavana met with the leaders of a bridge association between the government and refugees. He received a lot of information regarding refugees staying in Italy. They will also provide the possibility of small paid jobs, Italian courses, and access to clothes and materials for daily use. The number of devotees and other refugees in Italy remains relatively low (around 80,000 total) because the government has yet to make its economic aid operational.

 



ISKCON Relief – Report: April 11, 2022

Poland: This week in Warsaw we had a huge ‘wave’ arriving from the east of Ukraine – Donetsk, Krematorsk, and other areas. They have been wisely advised by Niranjana Maharaja to leave as the army forces were coming their way. Maharaja has been so closely involved in helping his yatra so wonderfully.

The majority of elderly devotees want to stay in Poland, hoping the war will end soon so they can go back home, with some going back to Ukraine already! Despite all the uncertainty they just miss home too much; being a stranger in a strange land is not easy and even in trying circumstances your own home is easier to deal with.

Both the temple and the rented temporary house are now full of several families with children. “I have one more pickup at 2 am so I won’t be sleeping again.” (Rasikendra Das)

Poland Prasadam: The Sathya Sai Group in Harrow in the UK have expressed deep gratitude to ISKCON for their highly organized operation. They want to start to work with ISKCON as they feel we are a very organized group. On the 9th of April, they delivered one truckload of fresh vegetables and other foods to Wrocław to support the Food For Life team at the train station, which was originally set up by Parasuram das. (See photos below).

Chech Republic: On the 9th of April devotees in Prague started Food For Life prasadam distribution in the centre of the city. The main organizer is Loka Saranga das, who just spent two weeks distributing food at the Ukrainian border with Parasuram das from the UK. After that Loka Saranga das and his team started to organize everything from zero. What a wonderful example for other temples!

Turkey: So far four devotees used Istanbul as a passageway to travel to other destinations in Europe. The devotees from Turkey are in contact with more Ukrainian devotees who want to travel from Russia to Turkey to go to Europe or Canada.

Croatia: 14 devotees from Ukraine are now accommodated in Croatia, including one newly arrived devotee who came via Russia and Istanbul. His wife and child will join him soon via Poland.

Sweden: One more devotee from Mariupol arrived at the Almvik Community last week. Now there are 17 Ukrainian devotees at the Almvik farm. There is also one in the Stockholm temple, two at the Korsnäs Gård temple, and two at the Gothenburg temple. As well as a few more who have found other accommodation.

France: New Mayapur does not have any Ukrainian devotees yet but is preparing to receive many families soon.

Portugal: ISKCON has offered support and helped non-devotee family members and friends fleeing from Ukraine. “2 young boys (one of them is the cousin of one of our devotees) that arrived last week were professional football players in Ukraine and great fans of CR7, so we were able to enroll them in a well-known football academy near Porto.” See the news article below.

Ireland: The devotees in Ireland have accommodation in the temple for Ukrainian devotees. Please get in contact with them for more information. The temple is part of the UK even though it’s located in Ireland.



ISKCON Relief – Resources

Relocation Services
The ISKCON Relocation Services is run by Loka Pavani Devi Dasi and three of her Vaishnavi colleagues. They work tirelessly to put together useful and updated information about available help which can be accessed in different European countries. Such information includes government benefits, government accommodations, relocation in temples and devotees’ homes, or a list of ISKCON centres specially equipped in helping women and children to get safe facilities. Refugees can find different options, and make informed decisions on where to go. You can find all this information at the ‘Country Specific Fact Sheets for Ukrainian Devotees’ at
http://eurorgb.org/ukraine-crisis-resources/

Crisis Management Support
Compassionate Listening Circles with Rambhoru Devi Dasi.
Every Sunday 8:00 – 9:30 pm CET on Zoom.
Contact and registration: rambhoru@gmail.com

Crisis Management Team
The Crisis Management Team has appointed local coordinators for several countries. These local coordinators offer help to refugees and assist devotees. Don’t hesitate to contact them.
A list of the national coordinators for several countries can be found at:
http://eurorgb.org/ukraine-crisis-structure/

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