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Fighting the Good Fight
Supporting Ukraine and Countering Russian PSYOPS
Several days ago, Ukrainian-Canadian journalist Marco Levytsky once again stood by Ukraine, by Ukrainian-Canadians, and by Mriya Aid by condemning the inexcusable behaviour of those who profit from amplifying fabrications by individuals who expend significant effort and expense attacking volunteers working to support Ukraine. In addition to Mr. Levytsky’s editorial of Aug 18, 2023 “Ottawa Citizen’s Pugliese Once Again Attacks Mriya Aid”, The New Pathway also published a statement made by the Mriya Aid Board of Directors. It was written by us in service and devotion to our supporters, partners, and Ukrainian men and women fighting the good fight.
“You will never get things perfect in a crisis, but the risks of inaction can be far greater.” Melanie Lake, July 15, 2023
In her “Dispatch From a Wartime Ambassador'' dated December 12, 2022, Larisa Galadza, Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine, wrote, “We know that the sole purpose of Russia’s disinformation is to create chaos, and to think that the truth is unknowable”. Working across contexts and platforms in the West - from mainstream news sources to social media - agents of Russian disinformation aim to disrupt Western support for Ukraine by eroding trust in organizations that help Ukraine.
Like many organizations supporting Ukraine, we at Mriya Aid have had the full gamut of harassment and abuse hurled at us, and we’ve done our best to respond appropriately.
● Like many Canadians and colleagues around the world, we celebrated when a few of our board members were added by the Kremlin to their sanctions list!
● We were dismayed that a large Canadian media outlet fell victim to Russian influence and became a tool of the Kremlin, twisting and manipulating the truth, feeding into Russian disinformation, and amplifying the despicable defamation and harassment against our Ukrainian and Canadian volunteers.
● We banded together to support those among us who were slandered across platforms - from Russian disinformation cloaked in the mantle of mainstream journalism to unrelenting social media character assassinations and threats sent to our emails.
● We were flabbergasted when a malicious individual purchased costly Google Ads to direct online traffic to a series of defamatory articles that attacked Mriya Aid (the ads were hastily removed from the internet when the appropriate authorities were contacted!)
We must be doing something right to draw the ire of such bad actors!
We spoke the truth, we supported one another, we reached out to our many partners, and we doubled down on our work supporting Ukraine. We did not allow them to divide, conquer, and destroy us and the aid we provide to Ukraine.
Mriya Aid co-founder Melanie Lake recently said that, “Doing nothing in the face of injustice is easy. Doing something is hard - emotional, painful, exhausting & filled with risk. There will always be those who wish to make the price of trying to help exceptionally high, but this powerful idea is important: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing’ ”. Melanie was speaking generally, but her words came from firsthand experience.
Through her professionalism, integrity, empathy, and strong leadership skills, Melanie Lake has earned a great level of respect and credibility in Canada, Ukraine, and across the world. When Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Commission, addressed the Canadian Parliament on March 7, 2023, she turned to Melanie Lake’s words for inspiration “Let me quote Lieutenant-Colonel Melanie Lake of the Canadian Armed Forces, who led Operation UNIFIER. She said: ‘Ukrainian women did not wait for doors to be open for them to serve in all capacities. They broke the doors down.' These women also smashed a glass ceiling, right over the head of the Russian invaders.”
The Russian agents lost no time in retaliating for Melanie’s good work in Ukraine. The Kremlin placed her on their sanctions lists and published her personal information in their “Foreign Combatants” blacklist, and then provoked a full-scale campaign of slander and harassment against her across multiple platforms and contexts. Melanie Lake’s photo was published alongside claims of mismanagement and wrongdoing. These were attacks on Lt Col Melanie Lake - a woman leader and supporter of Ukraine who is very much in the public eye - but also attacks on those helping Ukraine, including Mriya Aid, the organization that Melanie co-founded in 2022, and through which she worked selflessly to channel significant amounts of impactful aid to the the Ukrainian front.
Mriya Aid is one of many organizations around the world that provides support to the Ukrainian front. To date, Mriya Aid has sent over 6M$ to Ukraine. As a Not-for-Profit organization with no salaries or overhead, the five members of the Board of Directors also manage the day to day operations on a volunteer basis with a handful of like-minded core team volunteers. Mriya Aid directs donor funds to the needs of over 40 units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, and to others on the frontlines.
In the first year of operations, we experienced a few minor unexpected situations and setbacks common to NGOs. It was a year fraught with additional complexities due to the urgent, challenging, and evolving situation of Russia’s genocidal war against Ukrainians. Communicating with units on the front lines isn’t always easy during a war, but we developed processes and protocols to take the time to hear the needs of the units directly, to work with them to ensure their safety, and to share lessons learned and best practices with stakeholders and partners.
Some projects are ongoing and take months of working with units to tweak and improve, while others are quick with almost immediate impact, such as getting the golden standard of military-grade tactical medical and non-lethal tactical equipment into the hands of those on the front - like the 4000 Gen 7 CAT tourniquets we’ve already delivered and 1000 more currently in the works.
This summer, the Mriya Aid team provided:
● Numerous specialized electronic devices of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine.
● Several pieces of non-lethal technical equipment for a sniper training centre working with civilians and Territorial Defence Forces.
● 1000 military-grade tourniquets purchased and being delivered to the frontline.
● A large sea container of medical aid and equipment for frontline hospitals and clinics.
● Train the Trainer demining instructor training and certification for 12 personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the State Emergency Services of Ukraine.
The demining training was requested of Mriya Aid directly by the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.
● Over the winter and spring Mriya Aid Funded the training and international standards certification in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) for 22 Ukrainian men and women.
● Mriya Aid is currently funding 12 to become international standards EOD trainers.
● The organization continues to fundraise to send hundreds of Ukrainians to be trained in international demining standards and to provide demining equipment to those heroes who save Ukrainian lives, limbs, and livelihoods.
Слава Україні! Героям Слава!
Разом до Перемоги!
Yours in service,
Mriya Aid Board of Directors