Sergii Pud, assistant professor at the BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip group at the University of Twente, comes from Ukraine himself. Since the moment the war in his home country broke out, he wanted to do something to help. ‘My first idea was to set up a collection point for humanitarian aid, but that was already arranged well in Enschede,’ he says. ‘So we started thinking further and our main concern was refugees.’
In early March, the UT scientist helped to start NuTwente, a volunteering organization which helps Ukrainian refugees to find accommodation in Twente. ‘On our website, people can sign up to host Ukrainians in their houses,’ says Pud. ‘In order to avoid any impulsive decisions, we have crafted a protocol. Everyone who signs up is invited to an information session where we discuss all the downsides of hosting refugees. If people are still interested afterwards, they can register their house with us. That way they can make a truly informed decision.’
Information session at the University of Twente
NuTwente is organizing information sessions for potential host families all across the region, including the UT campus. The meeting at the UT will be held on 31 March at 19:30 in Spiegel 1. The event will be in English and you do not have to register to join.
After a household is registered, volunteers from NuTwente visit the house to make sure it is suitable for receiving refugees. ‘We already have a pool of 256 approved locations, each of which can host on average three people. We have been able to place fifty refugees so far,’ says Pud. ‘But we are growing very quickly.’
As one of the founders of the initiative, Sergii Pud is now busy with establishing a community of Ukrainian refugees and volunteers. ‘Our main goal is to help with housing, communication and care. We want to make sure that refugees can live their lives independently and make their own decisions. We are closely collaborating with the Veiligheidsregio Twente and local municipalities to ensure that refugees receive the right support. For example, we are lobbying for education suited to the needs of the Ukrainians.’
How to help
‘There are many ways people can help,’ adds Pud. ‘They can register as hosts, but also as volunteers. We are looking for people who can work with refugees as ‘buddies’, volunteers who can check the houses, people to help us with social media and even schooling. We need all sorts of support. Many people have already signed up with us. It shows the beautiful connection of the Twente community. But the more the merrier.’