I’ve just returned from 3 months working in Donbass, the undoubted highlight of which, thanks to kind people and their donations, was being able to distribute over 5500 GBP of humanitarian aid.
This was made possible by my Donbass event in London, back on April 2nd, and donations to the first campaign I ran on JustGiving, which raised over 2000 GBP.
I was hoping this would just be the start of things, giving aid to those places and people most in need – your aid went everywhere from paying for the funeral of a 16-year-old victim of Ukrainian shelling, to giving out vital supplies, and children’s products, from Gorlovka to Pervomiask. It even paid for an ambulance to be repaired.
I then ran another JustGiving campaign, to set up humanitarian funds for my next trip to Donbass. Thanks to the kindness of people, responding to the desperate situation in Donbass, the campaign was successful. But then, on July 23rd, I received the following message from JustGiving –
Lily, Jul 23, 12:50:
Congratulations on reaching your target. The pledges will shortly be processed into donations.
In the meantime, it’s come to our attention that you are no longer working in the region and are unable to re-enter the country for which the aid is intended.
We’d like to offer our help in finding a charity that you can work with to ensure the safe delivery of the aid supplies as outlined on your page.
We’ve found two charities for your consideration that work in the region: the Red Cross and the Ukraine Charity.
Please can you let me know how you wish to proceed as soon as possible?
It was clear that someone from the ‘pro-Ukraine side’ had reported the campaign to JustGiving, along with my farcical ban from Ukraine. I responded, on July 23rd –
Thanks for your message. I’m absolutely still working in the region, I’m here right now, and distribute the aid myself. I’m absolutely able to enter the country for which the aid is intended – the Donetsk People’s Republic, and Lugansk People’s Republics. My ban is for Ukraine, these are autonomous republics already.
I’d like for it to be like last time, transfer the sum collected to myself, and I’ll distribute the humanitarian aid here as i always do.
Neither of the organisations you mention are suitable in any way. People have given the aid as they know that I distribute it, and film it being distributed myself, as I’ve done today.
Let me know how you wish to proceed, as soon as possible.
JustGiving replied to me –
Lily, Jul 23, 17:01:
I’m afraid that, having sought legal advice in the meantime, we feel that the Page breaches our guidelines. As such, we’re no longer in a position to be able to pass these funds to you.
If you select one of the following charities, we can transfer the funds over to them so that the aim of your page can still be carried out:
British Red Cross
The alternative option would be for us to refund your donors, so they may choose to redirect their funds as they wish.
If we have not heard from you by 28/07/2015, we will begin the refund process.
I responded –
Ok, Lily, your choice, refund the donors – absolutely do not give the aid elsewhere.
I will be sure to report your decision widely!
And that was that. I was absolutely against the aid being given elsewhere, especially to organisations I’ve seen do little, if anything, to help Donbass.
People donated to my page because they know what they get – all the aid is delivered to those people, and places most in need, and it’s all accounted for, and filmed.
Sadly, this distribution of humanitarian aid seems to have come to the attention of the pro-Ukraine side, and JustGiving have taken their side. It’s just the latest in a long line of ‘pro-Ukraine’ attempts to sabotage humanitarian aid reaching Donbass.
So, that’s the end of fundraising on JustGiving – I’ll find another way!