This morning I called Alex in Kiev, our loyal and hard-working general manager of LifeLine Ukraine.org , to wish him and his family a happy and, above all, peaceful new year. 

“Happy 2023 Jeroen!”, Alex replied.

“How was your New Year celebration?”, I asked.

“The kids were happy because they received presents and because their grandparents came over”, he replied. “Only for us, parents, it was a bit stressful, as Kiev was attacked by thirty-two kamikaze drones between one and five o’clock this morning. Luckily, most of them were shot down by our air defence. But the noise of the explosions was horrendous.”

As it turned out, the first day of the new year in Ukraine, started out with the grim and violent announcement that war will mark our lives in 2023 as well.

On the 24th of February of last year, the war came as a shock, even to the most well-informed among us. This year, we know what lies in wait for us, as the thirty-two kamikaze drones kindly reminded us in the early morning of New Year’s Day. This means that we have the responsibility to be prepared for the biggest test that we have faced since WWII.

In 2022, I have seen Alex, and our other Ukrainian colleagues Veronica and Timur, face this test bravely. They gradually grew under the constant attacks. They are still nervous when a rocket hits or a kamikaze drone explodes. But the fears they had in the beginning of the war have turned into a steel determination.

Thanks to this determination, we sent 51 trucks with humanitarian aid in 2022. We assisted 14 Ukrainian women- and family-owned businesses. We supported 3 hospitals and 6 NGOs. We started Lifeline Veteran Tech, LifeLine Fair Farm Cooperative, LifeLine WomenInTrade, and LifeLine Energy Solutions. We are now installing well over 1000 woodstoves. And most of all we touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian families. 

The year 2023, like the previous year, will once more test our values, our intentions, our actions, and our capacity to make a difference in the world. Above all, 2023 will be a test of our resolve to continue doing what needs to be done for Ukraine, for as long as is needed.

But I am sure that as long as our Alex, Veronica, and Timur, and the millions of Ukrainians in Ukraine are standing tall, so will we as volunteers and donors.

I am proud of us all. Of the children in the elementary school class that collected 99 Euros. Of our generous donors who singlehandedly donated thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of Euros. Of the companies and NGOs that donated many trucks with humanitarian goods. Of all the volunteers who supported LifeLine Ukraine with their hearts, time, and efforts. And of all my friends who helped make a great success out of LifeLine Ukraine.

This year we will continue to do what we did so well last year; make a difference!

I wish you all a happy, proud, and peaceful 2023! 

Jeroen Ketting

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