Emmaus Hull & East Riding has donated £4,337 to Wide Awake International, a nonprofit organisation supporting vulnerable children in Ukraine.

On Thursday 19 January, Jed Johnson, co-founder of Wide Awake International (WAI) visited us to receive the donation and thank our community for its fundraising efforts.

Jed commented: “It was so lovely to meet the Emmaus Hull & East Riding community and see the work they do. I was so impressed with the commitment to their companion’s success and how much work they are doing for themselves and the community to make a change. They are an inspiration.”

People supported by Emmaus, known as companions, live within a purpose-built community home in Hull and are offered the opportunity to gain skills, confidence and new experiences. The concept of solidarity, helping others in greater need, is central to the Emmaus ethos and a motivation for the WAI fundraising efforts of companions over the past two years.

Steve, a companion at Emmaus Hull & East Riding, said: “It was great to finally meet Jed and Kim and talk to them about their project, Wide Awake International. We have been raising funds for a while now and we have really enjoyed the online meetings and a virtual tour of their homestead in Ukraine. Jed and Kim are amazing people doing such good work and it was a real pleasure to spend time with them. They told us about life in Ukraine and how difficult and worrying it can be.”

Helping vulnerable children

WAI was founded in 2013 to support orphans with disabilities. From its base in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, WAI work with local and international partners to increase the quality of life and care for children with complex needs. WAI believe in the dignity of every human being and seek to bring hope, dignity, love and improved quality of life to orphans with special needs in Ukraine.

Kelly Finnis, Director of Emmaus Hull & East Riding, said: “We became aware of WAI in 2021 and after a video call form Jed who runs the project, our companions agreed to take this on as our international solidarity project. I am really proud of what our community has achieved and the impact our fundraising will have on the lives of vulnerable children in Eastern Europe.”

Emmaus Hull & East Riding has raised funds through car boot sales, eBay and tabletop sales. We have also held raffles and tombolas to raise funds for WAI. Solidarity activities such as the WAI fundraising can be very valuable for our companions as it is often key to helping to rebuild their self-esteem and make a difference to the lives of others.