This week’s report includes the visit of two generous donors who are supporting the ISKCON Relief Team Initiative. They visited Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland and were very nicely received by members of our ISKCON Relief Team as well as HH Sivarama Swami.
|Country||Refugees being Hosted|
|Czech Republic||77 (incl. 36 children)|
|Hungary||38 (incl. 10 children)|
|Ireland||15 (incl. 4 children)|
|Slovakia||17 (incl. 8 children)|
|Spain||15 (incl. 5 children)|
Donors Visit ISKCON Relief Sites
Two generous donors who are supporting the ISKCON Relief for Ukraine Initiative desired to see firsthand ISKCON’s support for refugees on location. The ISKCON Relief Team subsequently organized a tour for them to Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland so they could see how ISKCON devotees are managing and arranging aid for our Ukrainian refugees.
The tour started on the 29th of June in Budapest, Hungary with a visit to Krishna Valley. While there they met HH Sivarama Swami and talked to several refugees from Ukraine. After that, they visited the Budapest temple as well as the Food For Life kitchen and distribution spot in the city. Their trip then continued to Prague in the Czech Republic, where they were cordially received by the ISKCON Relief Team Director Sukanti Radha dd together with Mahaprabhu das, a member of the Core Team. Their first stop in Prague was the Food For Life kitchen where they met Loka Saranga das and his wife, who are in charge of the kitchen and they gave them a little tour of the kitchen etc. They then visited the main square in Prague where the meals are distributed to the Ukrainian refugees. From there they went to Walbrzych, Poland to meet many more Ukrainian devotee refugees staying there in the house rented by devotees. The next morning, the 1st of July they all departed.
Both donors expressed how ISKCON has so very nicely put together a structured approach for their entire team to work within having one single goal — all devotees and all those who seek help from ISKCON are given the basic necessities that any human being deserves for survival — namely food, shelter, and protection. In addition, they were impressed with the added support for the refugees, in the form of spiritual care and opportunities for sadhana bhakti.
It was wonderful to observe how the donors went beyond their call of service of just providing Lakshmi(financial assistance), to being actively involved in consoling, encouraging, and empowering the refugees. They enquired about the care they received, whether they were happy and if there was anything lacking. The refugees responded with deep gratitude. This is something we have been noticing from all the refugees coming to Europe. They are ever grateful for whatever we have been able to provide for them. These refugee devotees, despite coming from such tragic circumstances, are still smiling and remain so positive regardless of all they have had to endure. Some refugees have literally lost everything and have nothing to go back to, still, they smile and continue with their sadhana.
Afterward, the donors told us that speaking to each refugee and hearing their experiences brought tears to their eyes. However these were not tears of sadness, rather they were tears of joy. They said they realised how powerful our ISKCON community is and how proud our dearmost Srila Prabhupada must be seeing such unity and cooperation. On one occasion, one of the donors explained to the refugees the spiritual meaning of the Ukrainian flag. He explained that it has the colours Yellow (representing
Lord Gauranga) and Blue (representing Lord Nityananda). The crisis situation represents the opportunity for them to
leave their country and go out and show the world what this sankirtan movement is all about. This message from the donors truly empowered and encouraged the refugees.
In conclusion, the donors said that it was an eye opener for them to see exactly how their funds are being utilized. They pledged to continue to help and to see this service through till the end. They felt very happy and satisfied after the tour and will also encourage other donors to help this noble and important cause. In their words, they summed it up as “very impressive”. (Sukanti Radha devi dasi)
If anyone had ever told us we would reach week 18 in this war, I guess we all prayed and hoped that wouldn’t be the case. Yet here we are trying our best to support devotees in this time of crisis, as we enter week 19.
We have less traffic coming through Warsaw this week with only a few families arriving. Most of the devotee refugees decided to go on the Polish Festival Tour on the Baltic Sea coast. So at the moment, we have around 84 refugees, mothers, and children mainly with a few men who are happily engaged in service and preaching. In the last few days the management has set up a little onsite nursery, so the children can safely play together. Quite a few families came from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for a few weeks, even though they are quite settled in the new homes they wanted to express their gratitude for their time in Warsaw where they arrived first after leaving war-torn Ukraine. They had never been on the Tour before but felt inspired by the nice caring mood and were also most happy to be in devotee association, doing whatever service they can.
Wroclaw and Walbrzych still continue with their service. Nama Rasana in Wroclaw is setting up half-day camps for refugee children. Warsaw is still going strong with its Food for Life distribution twice a week. A big thanks to our steady and helpful congregational members for their support of the Warsaw temple.
In the past week, 4 new devotees arrived in the UK from Ukraine. After more than 3 months of waiting for the right opportunity and the lengthy visa process, one Mataji finally arrived from Poland to Reading. A Reading-based retired Mataji has opened her heart and her home and welcomed this Ukrainian devotee, who is an artist and a painter. She is planning to set up a small business selling her paintings in the UK.
A Ukrainian family of three was welcomed by a retired devotee couple who live in a beautiful country house in Scotland. The house is located 30 minutes from the Karuna Bhavan eco-village which now has a growing Ukrainian community. They had prepared for this move for several months and are now very happy to settle in this picturesque town and they are planning to launch a few online business projects.
There were also many Ukrainian devotees present at HH Svayam Bhagavan Keshava Swami’s Sannyasa ceremony at Bhaktivedanta Manor. It was truly a scene from the spiritual world with many exalted guests sending their blessings for the new Sannyasi. At our last Russian-speaking Sunday program, we asked one of the senior Ukrainian devotees to give a talk. We discussed “Miracles in Krishna Consciousness”, it was a very uplifting and motivational program with delicious prasadam, which was all prepared with help of the Ukrainian devotees!
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 to 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 in the ‘Country Specific Fact Sheets for Ukrainian Devotees’ at:
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://iskconrelief.org/ukraine-crisis-structure/
ISKCON Relief Website
Please visit our newly created website at
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies