Estonia Sees Fall in Mobilizing Donations for Ukraine

Causes include war fatigue, financial strains, and distrust in some fundraisers.
  • Bureau
  • 11:02 AM, November 6, 2023
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Estonia Sees Fall in Mobilizing Donations for Ukraine
Nonprofit Vaba Ukraina dispatches mobile sauna and shower truck to Ukraine @Estonian media

Estonian volunteers, who have been actively collecting donations to aid Ukraine, are now facing reduced support due to various factors, including war fatigue and worsening financial situations, as well as the tarnished reputation of some dishonest fundraisers.

On Sunday, a uniquely equipped mobile sauna and shower unit, referred to as a "saunabus," set off from Harju County, Estonia towards Ukraine, followed by a yellow van. This humanitarian mission is spearheaded by four Estonian volunteers affiliated with the nonprofit organization Vaba Ukraina, Estonian news outlet ERR reports.

Raul Leemets, a dedicated volunteer for Vaba Ukraina, explained, "This is a mobile shower whose internal temperature, I believe, should reach 40-50 degrees [Celsius]. The men said that three minutes per man, four showers, it could serve 80 men in the space of an hour. The goal is to get warm and get clean."

The saunabus is equipped with an automatic water pump capable of drawing water from any available source, provided they can find firewood and fuel up the vehicle's gas tank. Furthermore, the vehicle is equipped with water tanks, washing machines, and even clotheslines to enhance the well-being of those on the front lines.

In the past, soldiers had to make do with a weekly delivery of cold water and wet wipes, providing only three liters of cold water per person. The saunabus initiative is a significant improvement for the well-being of those in Ukraine's warzone.

The group of friends behind this initiative, who typically organize adventure tours, has been volunteering to support Ukraine since 2014, when the nonprofit Vaba Ukraina was established under the patronage of the late Lt. Gen. Johannes Kert, a former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF). Their aid efforts are largely based on donations to the nonprofit.

This Sunday marks the second saunabus dispatched to Ukraine by this nonprofit organization. However, fundraising has slowed due to the dishonest actions of several other fundraisers.

The nonprofit Toeta Ukrainat, in operation since 2015, has also felt the impact of reduced donations. Ants Erm, a board member of Toeta Ukrainat, explained that there was a significant decline in support following the fall of another Estonian nonprofit, Slava Ukraini. While donations have somewhat recovered, the ongoing economic challenges and war fatigue have impacted contributions.

Toeta Ukrainat has four SUVs in the final stages of preparation before they are sent to Ukraine, bringing their total contributions to 52 vehicles, alongside various equipment and gear such as tires and sleeping bags.

Ants Erm expressed their unwavering commitment, stating, "Our plan is of course to keep going like this, as much as we're donated, and as much as we can handle. We can't help it; Ukraine has to win this war."

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