In the midst of a chaotic world, we want to share an inspiring story of one woman who gives so much to so many. Lizzie Gremminger, from Kansas, has lived abroad since 2014 as an elementary teacher at international schools around the world. She is currently living in Prague, Czech Republic.
Since Russia began invading Ukraine Lizzie has been helping refugees in need. Here’s Lizzie’s story and how you can help too.
Women's support group
“When the war began earlier this year, myself and many people I know in Prague began opening our homes to refugees in need of temporary housing. In efforts to support my Ukrainian guest, I started a Go Fund Me page to help pay for extra expenses that go along with hosting someone (groceries, toiletries, clothing, and for anything my guest needed.) I expected a couple hundred dollars at most, and was surprised to receive thousands. I decided with the surplus of donations I would offer help to those who expressed the need via expat groups on Facebook. In the beginning, I would take families shopping, as many of them arrived in Prague with close to nothing. The donations also went towards paying for people’s groceries and hostel stays when I was unable to find them someone to stay with.
As I grew closer to the 18 year old girl who was staying with me, I realized she was in need of a community. She missed speaking Ukrainian, needed to process the sudden change in her life, and wanted to meet other people her age. I decided then to start a weekly therapy group for Ukrainian women in Prague. I found a couple of therapists who are in Prague as refugees themselves, and organized these meetings every Tuesday. The donations from my GFM pay the therapists, snacks for the weekly sessions, and aid the women with specific needs. For example, a member of the group needed surgery and her insurance did not fully cover the expenses and medicine, so I was able to pay for everything for her. I have used the donations to help in a multitude of ways. It’s been incredible being able to ask someone what they need and have the funds to help them in any way.
The support group has run since March. As the group is full of many mothers, this weekly session has grown to include children. High school students from my school volunteer every week with art supplies, games, and activities for the children. In the future, they plan to offer English and Czech lessons to the group.
As this community continues to grow, I plan to hopefully use future donations for back-to-school needs, fall/ winter clothes & shoes, and Christmas gifts.
What started as a way to help me afford groceries, has led to creating a community. I am happy to see it continue to grow.
Other ways I am helping Ukrainian refugees
The donations I receive have not only contributed towards the support group. There are detailed ways I’ve helped on the GFM page here. I basically help whenever I see someone expressing they need it via Facebook groups. However, as refugees seem to be more settled now, most of my efforts go to the support group.
The biggest need at the moment seems to be finding jobs, which is very difficult as there are few refugees who speak Czech or English. Many women are wanting to return to their past fields of work but need intensive Czech language courses to qualify to apply. These courses are extremely expensive and something the refugees cannot afford. I am hoping that after fundraising a bit, I will be able to pay for some of these courses and continue with the support group.”
How can you contribute and donate?
Dignity is a non-profit organization that Lizzie has worked with who helps refugees in Prague in many different ways.
Save the Children: The war in Ukraine has caused the greatest displacement of families since World War II. Save the Children is on the ground in Ukraine and bordering countries providing aid in the form of food, hygiene products, clothes, diapers, mental health support, safe play areas, recovery areas, and cash support. They have reached 104,000 refugees with life-saving help.
Welcome Baby, USA: This organization, which Bonsie proudly partners with, provides low-income mothers with one package containing all of the items they’ll need for their newborn in the first four weeks of life. They have been active in their support for essential baby materials for Ukrainian mothers fleeing violence with their babies.
Heroism and acts of kindness are all around us. We are so inspired by Lizzie and the incredible work she is doing to help those who need it most.
Pay it forward!