Food distribution in Lviv, Ukraine
ISKCON News Report
6 PM EST
March 7, 2022
Events in Ukraine are changing daily, if not by the hour. Here are updates that ISKCON News has confirmed.
Kyiv Temple Refills With Devotees
It was previously reported that many devotee families and temple residents in Kyiv left the city for safer locations in the county or to other cities further to the west. Earlier reports were that only a handful of devotees were living in the temple, but that has all changed. Niranjana Swami confirmed to ISKCON News (10 AM EST) that other devotee families have moved into the Kyiv temple from various parts of the city. “Many of these families live in high-rise apartments that are unsafe now. The temple is more protected, and has two floors underground that can serve as an air defense shelter,” he said. “Also, the devotees were lonely and needing association. In the temple, they’re having kirtan and hearing about Krishna together.” About 50 devotees have moved into the temple building.
Hungarian FFL Expands to 6 Sites and 2,000 Meals Daily
Food for Life in Hungary is distributing food (prasadam) at six locations across the country in response to the Ukrainian crisis. Two locations are in Budapest, two locations at the Ukrainian border and two new locations are in the city of Debrechen near the Romanian border. Between 1,500 and 2,000 meals are being fed daily to refugees, according to Chaitanya Charan, administrator for the Hungarian yatra. “We were feeding Indian students at the train stations for several days,” he said, “but most of the students have continued on to other locations.” He noted that in recent days the refugees seem to be a ‘new wave’. “The earlier throngs of people were those who lived close to the border, or who had family members they were seeking out. The ones we are seeing now are more desperate. They are coming from long distances, and many aren’t sure where they are going.”
ISKCON Europe Establishes a Coordinator of Relief
The ISKCON European Regional Governing Body (RGB) has selected Sukanti Radha dasi to coordinate their efforts to assist Krishna devotees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and helping them relocate to other ISKCON communities. Sukanti, who is based in the UK, said, “The first priority is to establish how many devotees each ISKCON temple in Europe can take in. Then we’ll help connect devotee refugees with those temples and support their relocations with information, contacts, and logistical and financial support.”
Devotees who can support these efforts financially are urged to do so via authorized venues (see https://iskconnews.org/verified-donations-for-ukraine/). Temple authorities and members able to take in refugee families are encouraged to contact their GBC representatives.
ISKCON Temples Receiving Devotees Refugees
It is estimated that there are 4,000 initiated ISKCON devotees in Ukraine and that ISKCON’s congregation has 20,000 members. (Source: Niranjana Swami, GBC, who notes that the Ukrainian Summer Festival draws 14,000 devotees, all but 1,000 of whom are Ukrainians.) To date, only 300 ISKCON members are known to have left the country and sought refuge at ISKCON temples. March 7 morning, during a daily zoom call with European Communications leaders, it was reported that approximately 200 Ukrainians are being sheltered by ISKCON temple communities in Poland; 30 Ukrainian devotees are in Hungary; 12 are in Slovakia; 15 are in Czech Republic, and 3 are in Romania. “As is reported in the media, like most of the refugees, devotee refugees are primarily women and children,” reported Trilokatma dasa, Zonal supervisor for Slovakia, Albania, and Macedonia. As the conflict intensifies, more devotee refugees are expected.
Hare Krishna Food Relief Picks Up in Ukraine—UK Truck on Journey to Help
ISKCON devotees in the Donetsk region have continued their food relief program, Food for Life, without stopping since the conflict began. In addition, other temples in Ukraine are now sharing prasadam, sanctified vegetarian food, with thousands suffering from the Ukrainian crisis. Niranjana Swami, ISKCON GBC for Ukraine informed us that 1,000 hot meals a day are being distributed to those in need in Dnipro, and 500 hot meals per day are being distributed in Kharkiv. Parasuram dasa, director of the UK’s Food for All program, is traveling with a small support team in a customized van with a commercial kitchen, extra-large pots, and an intense desire to cross the border into Ukraine to help the victims of the conflict with hot prasadam meals. Just minutes ago it was reported to ISKCON News that Parasuram has arrived in Poland and will be cooking in the city of Przemysl, near the train station. He has received permission from the local government and will start feeding on 600-800 people daily.
Jun 25, 2022
Radhapriya Chawla, ISKCON Toronto Communications