After Russia invaded Ukraine, several international students at Erasmus found themselves in financial distress. The special emergency fund for students affected by the war founded by the EUR and the Erasmus Trustfonds helps them survive, two Ukrainian students say.
The emergency fund for EUR students who have been (financially) affected by the war in Ukraine has already been able to help 50 students, so that they can continue to pay their rent and buy food. The fund is an initiative of Erasmus University and the Erasmus Trustfonds, both of whom donated 25,000 euros. Thanks to companies, funds and individuals, that amount was supplemented to 161,698 euros, and the number continues to rise.
All students affected by the war can apply, but in practice it is mainly students from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, says student dean Jenny Dijkstra, who handles the applications together with her fellow student deans. In total, 88 Ukrainian, 177 Russian and 8 Belarusian students study at Erasmus. “Parents can no longer support their children financially because they are seeking refuge, have lost their jobs or have their businesses bombed.” Bank transactions no longer work or parents are in financial distress due to the depreciation of the local currency. “Students explain their income situation and we assess this as carefully as possible.” For now, the support is for three months. “It is an illusion to think that things will get better after that period, but this is the period we started with. Depending on the financial need, students can apply for a maximum of one thousand euros per month. We notice that students handle this very carefully.”
Because the end of the war is not yet in sight, it is essential that the number of donations continues to increase. “We see amounts that vary from ten euros to a lot more and we have received numerous large donations from other funds. We are happy with everything! It is also very nice to see that fellow students have donated.”
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Parents in Kyiv
For Ukranian student Daniil Glotov, who is in his second year of the International Bachelor Economics and Business Economics, the war came as a complete surprise. “We never thought that Russia would invade, because it would be a disaster both for Ukraine and Russia. But apparently some people do not think rationally anymore nowadays.” When the NATO started removing their training troupes from Ukraine he and his family knew it was serious. “At that point I already offered my parents to move them away, but of course they refused. Ukrainian people love to stay at home. Then one day I woke up to the news that my country was invaded and bombed.”
His parents are still living in his hometown, the capital Kyiv. “They moved closer to the Romanian border for two weeks, because it was impossible to stay in Kyiv because of all the shelling. But since the Russians are now retreating they moved back.” He is in regularly contact with them. “Thanks to Elon Musk everyone has internet so I can keep in touch with them every two hours, to check if they are safe after every air alarm.”
Men don’t cry
Despite these stressful times Daniil continues to focus on his studies.“I even passed one exam with a 10. My father taught me that men don’t complain, don’t cry, but stand up and deal with their problems. The last forty days of war I have been engaged in helping the Ukrainian community in every possible way, helping refugees with the translation of Dutch documents.”
He emphasizes that it’s very different for people from other parts of Ukraine. “I’m from Kyiv, which was only attacked from the ground for a few days. There are students here from Kharkiv and Mariupol, what happened there is the absolute worst. Of course they cannot study or do anything else than think of the safety of their family.”
The emergency fund was a lifesaver for Daniil. “We are all so grateful to Erasmus, for the study-advisors, psychologists and for opening this fund. For me the main problem was paying the rent, because my family has no income, and that will not change in the next five to six months.”
That’s why he has a message to everyone who donated: “I think it’s wonderful that people are willing to share their own, honest money, which they worked hard for. It’s hugely appreciated and also, for me, unexpected. But it’s for a good cause and if you look at the response of our nation and the students at Erasmus I think we show that Ukrainians are people that don’t sit down and cry, but do everything we can to help each other.”
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Feels like family
The same applies for fellow-Ukranian Danaia Orlianska (18), first year student of International Bachelor Communication and Media. “All of the Ukrainian students really got tied up together during the protests and demonstrations. I didn’t know a lot of the people I’m now in contact with. By now they feel like family. You worry about them and try to take care of them.”
Danaia has a hard time imagining the actual war in Ukraine. “It still feels strange that I haven’t been there myself. I haven’t seen any of the destruction of war, like the buildings and bodies. I can’t be sure that my home and Dnipro, my city, will still be there when I return.” How she feels about the war? “I stumble upon the feeling of injustice because my mind just can’t imagine why people want to destroy a country with bombs and weapons. I just can't bear with this information. I’m the person in my family who is always saying that everything will be fine.”
A role that is becoming increasingly difficult. “My mom had to flee to Europe, so I was video calling with my granddad who was in our flat to look for something. When I saw my old home I realized that I had always expected that it would be safe, like my anchor. Something to which you can always return.”
For Danaia studying has become extra hard. “I hadn’t expected that I would have so much difficulties with my studies, but especially the first two weeks I was just completely busy with all of the news, tracking if my family was safe. It was all very unpredictable.” By now things have slightly settled down. “I have a framework in my head that helps with all of the information. The scary thing is that I’m already getting used to some parts of the war, knowing to expect, for instance, the bombings.”
Another concern she had after the war began was rent. “Me and other students from Ukraine were really at a loss what to do, since some of us only had money left to get by for another month. I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who has donated, it helped me to pay rent, buy food and deal with other everyday spendings. It also gives us the opportunity to help out our family.”
The fund feels as a big support, she says. “And it gives hope. You do not feel as desperate. For some students the home they have in the Netherlands is now their only safe home, so it also gives them a sense of emotional security.”
To continue to help these students in these devastating and uncertain times, your help is highly needed. Your donation means the world to them. Click here to donate to the EUR Student Emergency Fund.