The project “Support of the professional integration process of Ukrainian civilians in Latvia, exchange of experience and information in Latvia and the Baltic States” was approved in 2023.

The U.S. Department of State allocated USD 1.86 million to six non-governmental organizations in Latvia for programs to assist Ukrainian refugees in Latvia. This represents the largest U.S. government contribution to support Ukrainian refugees in Latvia.

The NGOs were selected through an open competition administered by the U.S. Embassy for funding through the 2023 Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act. The program addresses the unprecedented refugee influx caused by Russias unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

We, the association Tavi Draugi, are proud to be one of the funding beneficiaries. Within the project, we will set up and equip two mobile Help Points to distribute information and provide critical services to Ukrainian refugees, as well as renovate the children’s daycare center at Ventspils iela 50, Riga.

Project purposes:

1. renovate and furnish the children’s daycare center at Ventspils iela 50, Riga;
2. purchase and equip two mobile vehicles for the dissemination of information, provision of legal advice, advice on employment opportunities and integration into Latvian society, and psychological support services for Ukrainian refugees in Latvian regions;
3. collect and transfer donations, gather information on the needs of and issues faced by Ukrainian civilians in Latvian regions. 

Project implementation period: 1 June 2023 – 31 May 2025.

Total costs of the project: USD 298,512, where USD 249,912 of the eligible costs are covered by the U.S. Department of State and USD 48,600 are co-financed by the association Tavi Draugi.

Project location: Venstpils iela 50, Riga, and the whole territory of Latvia. Preparatory workfor the project is currently underway. 

Project of the Society Integration Foundation

We are pleased to announce that the association Tavi Draugi has received support for the implementation of the project “TOGETHER UNTIL VICTORY!” within the framework of the open call for proposals “NGO Activities in Support of the Civilians of Ukraine”, financed by the Thematic Facility “Emergency Assistance” project No. HOME-2022-AMIF-AG-EMAS-TF1-LV-0012 – UA-SUP of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Contract identification Number: 2023.LV/NVO_UKR/11

Project implementation period: from 1 November 2023 to 30 April 2024.

The aim of the project is to ensure the functioning of the Association in order to provide services and support to Ukrainian civilians, including provision of premises for extending help.

Activities planned in the project over a six-month period:

  1.     hangar maintenance costs: rent and utilities;
  2.     staff remuneration and coverage of the related tax costs;
  3.     coverage of communication, stationary and transport costs;
  4.     coordination of volunteering.

Expected results of the project: 1800-2000 visitors per month, staff jobs, up to 200 volunteers per month, ensuring operation of the Assistance and Logistics Centre over six months.

The total eligible costs for the project implementation are EUR 169,080.00, and the funding represents 100% of the project total eligible costs.

The content of the material is the responsibility of the association Tavi Draugi.

Help to the organisation “Козацьке Коло” for taking care of the homeless animals

“Козацьке Коло” is an organisation which goes daily to the de-occupied areas in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine taking food to pets who have become homeless and ownerless.

How did it all begin?

In 2023, our team went to the de-occupied territories together with the organisation “Козацьке Коло” to deliver humanitarian aid to the civilians. On our way, the representative of “Козацьке Коло” stopped at several places to feed our four-legged friends who had suffered from the war. The food taken along could be described as rather meagre, i.e. porridge mixed with boiled potatoes, the cheapest and most nutritious thing they could afford to buy to save these unfortunate animals from agonising death of starvation. As we saw with our own eyes that there were a lot of such animals, but “Козацьке Коло” did not have enough financial resources to help all of them by providing wholesome and nutritious meals, we realised that we had to help.

Why must we go on helping?

When people were fleeing from the front-line and occupied territories, not all of them could take their four-legged family members with them. Animals are also afraid of shelling blasts and horrors of war, but they cannot get into a car and drive somewhere quieter, nor can they read signs to understand that they cannot leave the road because the ditches and meadows are mined. As a result, there are now very many not only abandoned but also injured animals, who have lost a paw or an ear or have been seriously injured.

What kind of help do we provide?

Together with the financial support of the Sofi Charity Foundation (Sofi is one of the largest donors to shelter animals in Latvia), we regularly send shipments of dog and cat food to the organisation “Козацьке Коло”. This food goes not only to abandoned animals in the de-occupied areas, but also to civilians who have taken in the homeless cats and dogs, to make their care a little easier; as we all know, our four-legged friends are not cheap to provide for. Helping animals is a work of the heart, and it is not easy at all, because many animals are frightened by the horrors of war and no longer trust humans and, let’s face it, you can’t blame them because the scariest animal they have seen in their lifetime is now a human. For this reason, it is very complicated to help these animals, so the organisation has to be creative and invent special feeding devices where the food bowl fills automatically without a human being present.

The team of Tavi Draugi is committed to providing food for animals in the war-affected areas until the end of the war, because we are responsible for those we have tamed, and we believe that neither any children nor any pets should be treated as strangers!

Izyum is a town in the eastern part of Ukraine, 120 km from Kharkiv. Izyum is a small town by Ukrainian standards, with around 50 000 inhabitants before the war.  In March 2022, Izyum came under the control of russian troops, spending six long months under the aggressor’s occupation. Over half a year, the occupying army had devastated the town, destroying or partially destroying countless houses and leaving many of its inhabitants homeless. Last winter was very harsh for the people of Izyum, who had to learn to survive without gas, electricity, heating and, for many, even without a roof over their heads. But the inhabitants of this town are tenacious people, they learned to survive even in a seemingly impossible situation – by collecting branches and firewood, cooking on thrift stoves in the backyards, living in cellars and supporting each other.

A little over a year has passed since Izyum was liberated from occupation – part of its inhabitants have returned and are now trying to rebuild their lives from scratch, despite missiles still being fired over the city. Today, the town has around 27 000 inhabitants who are stubbornly collecting brick by brick to renovate their homes, glazing their windows, cleaning up their yards and the town’s streets, in order to bring back some of the normal rhythm of life to Izyum. Who are these people who have decided to stay in their hometown? These are mostly pensioners, but also women and children who, for various reasons, have decided that despite the dangerous conditions they will not leave their homes.

It is very difficult to rebuild and start a new life in war conditions when you have neither any savings in your bank account nor a job, so it is very important to help these people and not neglect them.

For this reason, we in the association Tavi Draugi, have also taken patronage of the inhabitants of this town and the neighbouring villages. In cooperation with volunteers in Kharkiv, we organise regular assistance to the inhabitants of Izyum, bringing food, medicine, clothing, hygiene products, food for animals, as well as gifts for children, because even in times of war, children remain children, who want to play carefree or have some tasty candies. These people are not well-off, so they are extremely grateful for every little thing that is brought to them; and, unfortunately, for many of them everyday things like hygiene products or sweets are luxuries they cannot afford.

The first shipment of Tavi Draugi aid was delivered to Izyum in the autumn of 2022. In total, 5 shipments of aid have been delivered to Izyum, and our partners Victoria and Ruslan have distributed them to the inhabitants of Izyum and its surroundings, as well as to the army units fighting in the vicinity of Izyum.

For our team, Izyum is not just another point on the map of Ukraine where humanitarian aid has been delivered.  Victoria and Ruslan keep us regularly informed about what is happening in the town, send us greetings from the civilians and army units we have helped, and photos and videos sharing with us the issues and needs of the local population. Therefore, we are determined to go on helping people living in Izyum and its vicinity as long as it is necessary. We do not finish our story with a full stop but rather with an ellipsis as the story will be continued.

Project implementation period: 29 September 2022 – 31 December 2023.

Project location:

  • Grebņeva border crossing point (Latvian-Russian border)
  • Terehova border crossing point (Latvian-Russian border)
  • Vientuļi border crossing point (Latvian-Russian border)
  • Silene border crossing point (Belarus-Russian border)

At the end of 2023, the association Tavi Draugi completed its largest, longest and most challenging project so far, commenced at the end of September 2022 at the borderland of Latvia – Russia by ensuring support for the victims of the Ukrainian war straight after they had crossed the border.

At the support points, persons who had just crossed the border could get the basic essentials, food, warm drinks, water, and hygiene products.  It was possible to charge one’s phone and connect to internet. Volunteers at the border crossing points provided information and helped to address different challenging situations related to medical aid, accommodation, transport etc. Ukrainian civilians had had a long, dangerous and exhausting journey to reach Latvia, they had been queueing for hours for the opportunity to cross the Latvian border, quite often in inhumane conditions, i.e. in rain, cold, hot sun, without shelter, food, water or wc. Therefore, it was important to give them a chance to recover from the hard journey, get warm, have a meal, contact their families or relatives, and decide where to go next.

Over nearly a year and a half, there were moments when four aid points were available at the same time, offering their services 24/7 to those crossing the border. Overall, approximately 50,000 persons received help. The project was supported financially by several organisations, as well as by donations from individuals and businesses; the total costs of the project reached approximately EUR 600,000.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the cooperation and support to ensure daily work at the border crossing points to the following institutions and organisations:

  • PCPM (Polish Center for International Aid)
  • UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
  • association “Gribu palīdzēt bēgļiem” (“I want to help refugees”)
  • State Real Estate
  • State Fire and Rescue Service
  • Municipality of Ludza region
  • State Border Guard
  • IOM (International Organization for Migration)
  • and other organisations and businesses who took part and supported the project.

And our biggest thanks go to our team of volunteers who made this project happen!

63 people were involved in the work at the border crossing points to ensure 24/7 operation of the support centres over the project implementation period.

The border crossing point project is a great proof that together we can accomplish a lot! Keep supporting Ukraine, keep believing in the good!