As I’ve been watching the news on the war in Ukraine I have wondered what is happening to the people with disabilities there. Are they successfully escaping with their families? Or are they safely staying behind? I know war harms the lives, health and safety of all people involved. but the circumstances are far worse for the millions of people with disabilities and their families living in Ukraine. Getting reliable information in an accessible format must be challenging. Spotty transportation options and/or places to shelter safely are probably also difficult too. I know just thinking about the basic things of life like food, clothing and shelter, then add a disability to that equation has got to be incredibly tough.
Benefit Concert for Blind Ukrainians
As a disabled person living miles away from this devastation I was at a loss with what to do. Then a few weeks ago it was announced, on one of my favorite podcasts, Mosen at Large, a benefit concert would be held to help the blind people in Ukraine. This virtual concert would be an opportunity for the international blind community to contribute in two ways. First, of course, to give a monetary donation regardless of the amount. Second, to contribute our musical talents and skills to a very worthy cause. I thought this was a wonderful idea and blocked off the date and time on my calendar.
Well, the We’re With U concert was held Saturday, Apr. 16. It ran for about 11 hours or so, reminding me of the days of Live Aid, a benefit concert to help the famine in Ethiopia. It was fantastic! I was so proud of the incredible talent in the community . For hours I listen to singers and musicians. There was a classical guitarist, trombonist and poet. All varieties of music were performed from rock, gospel, classical, operatic, country, reggae and jazz. There were even some performances from the theatric productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Hamilton and the Phantom of the Opera. There literally was something for everyone. The performers came from all parts of the globe-the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain, Romania, Ireland, India, Singapore, Germany, the Caribbean and more. It truly was an international united front to help Ukraine.
Stories About Blind Ukrainians
Not only did I hear wonderful musical selections but stories from Ukrainians themselves. I got to learn a little bit about what people with disabilities are really dealing with, driving home the pressing need more. Stories were told about blind children trying to shelter in place. A story of a blind person with cerebral palsy escaping. Another about accessing braille books in Ukrainian’s native language.
Multiple Ways to Donate
During the entire concert opportunities to donate were provided. In the US, people contacted the National Federation of the Blind who partnered with the World Blind Union. On their website there was a dedicated page about the concert and a form for your donation. The form was accessible and easy to complete. Once done I got an email confirmation of my donation.
For people outside the US, a donation form from the World Blind Union was available. According to their website, The WBU is the principal organization that represents and speaks on behalf of blind and partially sighted persons at the international level. The WBU derives its strength from its members in approximately 190 countries worldwide. The WBU reflects the aspirations of blind persons for equality and full participation.
The concert started at 2 p.m. with an amount of around $30,000. By the time I started yawning and nodding off at 1 a.m. the total was around $80,000. And this is not the grand total by any means. For people who didn’t have internet access a phone number was available to receive a call back. Also, there is probably opportunities to still give as the weeks progress. Again, I was immensely proud of all that we were doing to help blind and visually impaired Ukrainians.
Concert was an Opportunity to Give
I have no idea when this war will end but I do take some comfort in knowing that I helped in some small way. The We’re With U concert gave me the chance to give not only to those who are currently disabled but those who will become so because of this war. As we all know war injuries can result in PSD, amputations, deafness and blindness. I also am giving back by writing this post. Hopefully, you will read it. Share with friends and family. And most importantly, donate to the people of Ukraine.