The NZ Herald is joining forces with World Vision to help as more than two million Ukrainian women and children flee their country in the world's fastest-growing humanitarian emergency since World War II.
World Vision emergency communications specialist Brianna Piazza, who is covering the refugee exodus from the Ukraine-Romania border, will tell their personal stories and give our audience a chance to help.
• Your urgent donation will provide vital essentials for children & families affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Please click here to donate now at worldvision.org.nz
In a Herald Instagram Live interview this morning she told actor and World Vision ambassador Kimberley Crossman about the remarkable sights she had seen since her arrival - including a 3km queue of vehicles fleeing Ukraine as she drove into the country on a mercy dash bringing much-needed supplies to a local hospital.
"I don't know what came over me but once we crossed the border and got into Ukraine I started filming the line of people that I saw - and it wasn't just people but a line of cars that kept going and going.
"My stomach just dropped because it was never-ending. It was just shocking to see and I think it brought home the extent of the crisis."
Piazza said she saw many families who had been split up by the war.
"When these families get separated ... they leave not knowing if they're going to see each other again.
"It's incredibly heartbreaking. There was a mother I was speaking to at a shelter and she'd left her partner behind to get her two young children out."
Asked about donations, Piazza said food and water were obviously vital but World Vision was also committed to setting up safe places for children to play and recover from their psychological ordeal.
Children had a different perspective on the crisis and needed the comfort of familiar toys and household environments.
For instance, one little girl had to leave her favourite teddy bear behind so it was hard for her to feel safe.
"There's a lot that people can be doing and I've been personally really moved to see just how much people around the world are mobilising for this emergency."
NZME managing editor Shayne Currie said the appeal was focused on raising as much money as possible to support the millions of people who have fled Ukraine desperately seeking refuge, in many cases losing their homes and possessions.
"The situation in Ukraine is heart-breaking and the need for urgent support is critical. Hundreds of thousands of women and children have been separated from husbands and fathers who remain in Ukraine defending their homeland. Families are crossing the border into Romania, Poland and Moldova with virtually nothing in their possession and often with nowhere safe to go.
"Through Brianna's reports, NZ Herald audiences will be able to have a deep and true understanding of the Ukrainian crisis through the eyes of these families. We are determined to do whatever we can to support the World Vision Ukraine Crisis Appeal, using our digital and print platforms to reach more than 2.2 million Kiwis," said Currie.
Grant Bayldon, national director, World Vision New Zealand agreed.
"As the devastating conflict in Ukraine grows by the day, we are proud to be partnering with The New Zealand Herald to share the heart-breaking and courageous stories of some of the women and children who are caught up in the conflict.
"They are experiencing things that no one should ever have to – their homes being bombed, being forced to leave family members behind as they flee to safety. Their lives have changed in an instant, and many of them have been left with only the clothes on their backs.
"Whenever I meet with people hit by crises, no matter where they are in the world, what matters to them most is exactly what I think would matter most to you or I – that they can keep their families sheltered, healthy and safe.
"And that is what World Vision is doing for thousands of refugees who are fleeing for their lives.
"We are right there, providing food, water, shelter and emotional support to children and their families affected by the conflict.
"We must not turn away. Please act now to support children and their families whose lives have been torn apart."
Ukraine Crisis Appeal: Where your money goes
Your support will help children and families affected by the crisis in Ukraine with
• Food and hygiene kits
• Child-friendly spaces and shelter
• Psychosocial support to help kids cope with trauma
Your urgent donation will provide vital essentials for children & families affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Please click here to donate now at worldvision.org.nz