Co-founder of Barcelona-based NGO Health Warriors tells us why they reoriented their project towards helping refugees from the war in Ukraine.
In 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, a group of people decided to start the project Health Warriors to deliver warm meals to healthcare workers. After the more critical point of the pandemic, they decided to deliver these meals to people in vulnerable situations. Today, this NGO has decided to shift its focus to the war in Ukraine. We interview Francesc Terns, the co-founder of Health Warriors to share the reasons why they decided to reorient their project and its involvement.
I’ve notices you’ve been fundraising for the war in Ukraine. How did you become involved?
We consider a person is a person, whether they come from Ukraine, Syria or anywhere else.
When the war broke out, it became clear to us we wanted to help, and were keen to find out what the real needs were. Some colleagues went to the consulate in Barcelona and they were told they needed to get as many people as possible out of the refugee camps. We looked at the options and decided the best was to take buses to the Ukrainian borders and bring people here.
What made you reorient your project towards helping refugees?
People lost all they had from one day to the next. We had to do something to bring dignity to their lives outside their country until they are able to return. So, we decided to do our utmost best. The idea wasn’t to bring as many people as we could, but to ensure those that do come have a good life.
Are you considering collaborating in any other way?
What is clear is we don’t want to bring people and then forget about them. So, the idea is to bring fewer people, and allocate some of the resources to help them rebuild their lives here.
Helping Ukrainians doesn’t end when they arrive in Barcelona; we want to stand by their side and help them build a new life because they had to leave their previous lives behind.
So, when you bring refugees here, have you already planned how to receive them?
Yes, we have many volunteer families that have mobilized to receive these refugee families. People can’t stay there much longer because the situation is critical. That is why we are doing all we can to ensure that when they arrive here they are as well as possible and we try helping them find a job.
Which could be the next step?
With individual donations of 10 or 100 Euro there’s not much more we can do. As a society, we have a limit. What we are trying to do is to find support in companies. The first step with individuals is very important to give the project visibility, but without the financial support of a company to finance a bus or pay a family’s expenses for a month we won’t be able to have a true impact.
Most of the world's problems are not solved by governments, they are solved by the people first.
How do you think volunteering can be helpful?
Seven people manage the project, but without the hundreds of volunteers over these years we wouldn’t be here. We owe ourselves to the people who have made it possible to reach so far. What’s good about the project is that more and more people are willing to help because they realise they can have a true impact with Health Warriors.