The War in Ukraine: One Year Later

By Pelin Munis, Ph.D., CEO, RestoringVision

As February 24, 2023 marks one year since the onset of the war on Ukraine, RestoringVision remains determined to bring hope into focus for refugees in and around the country by being of service – removing one obstacle – blurry vision – for those living in and around this active conflict zone. So far, RestoringVision has helped over 380,000 people in and around Ukraine with vision screenings and the eyeglasses they need – providing them with clearer vision for the path ahead.

Working within an active conflict zone has had its many complexities. But we continue to be motivated and inspired by our partners and the people we are able to help. Along the way, we have met many people who are working to support those impacted by the traumas of this war, as they share individual stories that only motivate us to continue to do our part by providing clear vision to people in need.

One such story is that of a man who was living in a Ukrainian village in the Donetsk region. One evening, he went to his basement to gather vegetables to cook dinner on a seemingly ordinary day. His wife had gone out earlier, and he was alone at their home. As he gathered vegetables, he heard an explosion. He emerged from the basement to discover that a shell had hit their home: it was burning down, destroyed in an instant.

With nothing but the tracksuit and slippers he had been wearing at the time, this man walked for two days – in shock and in deep sadness after experiencing such trauma – through forests and fields until he was picked up on the highway by people willing to help him. He had lost everything, including his eyeglasses left at home, where everything he once knew was now gone. “How glad he was when they helped him to find housing in a complex, find clothes, shoes, and then – a new pair of eyeglasses,” our partner, Step with Hope, shared.

By providing clear vision for those suffering and fleeing in and around Ukraine, RestoringVision provides critical support for refugees, bringing hope into focus for the lives we touch.

In another story shared by Step with Hope, a grassroots organization in Dnipro, a woman entered a wellness facility and said she had not been able to read for two years because her eyesight had deteriorated, and she lived in a village where there was no ophthalmologist or optician.

Her circumstances made it difficult for her to travel to another city to access vision services and eyeglasses. When she heard that Step with Hope had collaborated with RestoringVision to help people in Ukraine, she was one of the first to attend a vision clinic.

When she picked out her glasses and put them on, she opened a magazine and started reading for the first time in years, and began to cry. She cried tears of joy for a very long time. “I lost hope that I would ever be able to read. I had already accepted that I would not be able to read again. And now–I see! I’m reading!” she exclaimed.

Our partner said, “She asked me to convey her great gratitude to the organization RestoringVision, and to tell them that there is a person here in Ukraine who, thanks to them, is now reading.”

RestoringVision’s work in Ukraine is being supported by our corporate donors including National Vision, Inc. and others, and is being implemented in partnership with our NGO and government partners including the Ministry of Health Ukraine, Step with Hope, Center for Humanitarian Technology, and other relief organizations.

Imagine fighting for your life, defending your family, or suddenly being displaced from your home or country without the ability to see clearly. By providing clear vision for those suffering in and fleeing from Ukraine, I am proud that RestoringVision is providing such critical support to refugees, bringing hope into focus for the lives we touch.

During these extraordinary times, it is important for us to come together and to be of service in the best ways that each of us can. That is why at RestoringVision we are dedicated to living our value of translating empathy into action. We invite you to be of service in partnership with RestoringVision today.

To partner with RestoringVision in supporting refugees worldwide, click here.