East Toronto resident Brett Tarver helps Ukrainian refugees through his work with World Vision Canada – Beach Metro Community News
Local resident Brett Tarver helps support the humanitarian response for the people of Ukraine. In this photo, he is seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: submitted.
By ALAN Shackleton
Local resident Brett Tarver helps support the humanitarian response for the people of Ukraine through his work with World Vision Canada.
Tarver, who grew up on the beach and lives in the Queen Street East and Coxwell Avenue area, is the Advocacy and Media Officer for World Vision Canada, which is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization. He is currently in Romania and Moldova helping Ukrainians affected by Russia’s invasion of their country earlier this year.
“My work is focused on advocacy communications, much like a humanitarian journalist dedicated to raising awareness of what’s going on here,” he said in an email interview with Beach Metro Community News in late April.
“Fundamentally, it’s about finding and sharing hope in what may seem hopeless. The goal is for Canadians to understand the needs of Ukrainians who have been driven from their homes and how we can help them in the best way possible.
Tarver has worked for World Vision Canada for just over seven years. Previously, he was a journalist for 10 years, working as a field producer for reports with a television channel.
He said he was working early in the morning at the TV station when he decided a career change was in order.
“It was dark and cold outside and it was dark in the studio. I felt a bit depressed. But then when my computer light came on, the first thing I saw was an offer of job for World Vision. I knew right away that it was my calling and it was the best job I’ve ever had,” said Tarver.
He uses his talents as a journalist to tell the world, and Canadians in particular, what is happening to Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their country as refugees.
“My past career as a journalist has developed the skills to be able to share stories about really complicated things with very little time or space and to do it in a way that people can understand while being authentic and real,” Tarver said. “At World Vision, it’s about getting into a really chaotic situation like a refugee camp or a conflict zone in the middle of a crisis and quickly identifying the best way to share what’s going on.”
Prior to this assignment, he had also worked in the same role with World Vision Canada in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and South Sudan.
He said what is happening to the Ukrainian people is a humanitarian crisis, both for those who were able to take refuge in other bordering countries, but also for those who remain under attack from the Russians.
World Vision has worked in some of these countries, including Romania, delivering food, medicine and hygiene supplies to refugees in shelters.
“The situation here continues to evolve, it is still very fluid day by day. And so we continue to adapt and respond to help where and how help is most needed,” Tarver said. “So beyond the basic essentials, our priority now is mental health, education and protection.”
Tarver said many of these refugees, mostly women and children, arrive with virtually nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Even though they have moved out of the direct war zone, they still face many threats of violence and exploitation.
“Protection means several things. For women and girls, it is about protecting themselves from the threat of exploitation and human trafficking. And for women and children, these are programs that protect them from different forms of violence,” he said.
A family he recently met in Romania is representative of the situation facing many of Ukraine’s more than five million refugees, Tarver said.
“Inna and her three young children had just crossed the Romanian border after fleeing Odessa. They had little more than the clothes on their backs, some essential documents and a few small suitcases. They just wanted to get to safety but she really didn’t know where she was going next and for how long. There are many stories of needs like this,” he said.
Countries and organizations around the world are mobilizing to help refugees, and Canadians are no exception.
“The overwhelming response from Canadians and the world has been so incredible, especially for the refugees,” said Tarver. “This is truly a massive gesture of solidarity unprecedented in my experience of global crises.”
Still, there is a lot of pressure on residents of neighboring countries such as Romania, Moldova and Poland, which will only increase.
In addition to neighboring countries, Ukrainians are fleeing to other parts of their country that are not the focus of Russian military attention at the moment. It also creates a very difficult and dangerous situation, Tarver said.
“Canadians should know that the needs in Ukraine are absolutely immense,” he said. “There are actually almost twice as many people inside the country who have fled for their lives to escape the fighting who have taken refuge in other parts of the country.
“These communities need a lot more support, especially inside Ukraine. This is why we are primarily focused on scaling up our response in Ukraine to work with these local partners and communities to help them help others. Some cities in western Ukraine have literally doubled or even tripled in size due to the influx of people, mostly women and children.
He told the story of a 12-year-old girl named Polina who escaped from Mariupol, a coastal town in southeastern Ukraine heavily attacked by the Russians, with her family. They were shelled and shelled and ran out of food before they managed to get out through a humanitarian corridor that had been established.
“As food and water ran out, they repeatedly tried to escape but were not allowed to leave. But eventually their little caravan was able to leave through a humanitarian corridor, but even then she said bullets hit one of the cars on their way out of town. Fortunately, his entire family survived the ordeal.
And the situation is getting worse as refugees continue to try to get to safety.
“As this conflict continues and if it continues to escalate as we fear there will be further waves of many more people like Polina on the move seeking safety, this would create a whole new level of humanitarian crisis,” Tarver said. “It would overwhelm the communities that host them, so organizations and countries around the world must be prepared to offer more support to ease the burden on local populations.”
That’s why help from countries like Canada is so important, he said.
“The Canadian government has done so much, it’s truly amazing and as a Canadian, it makes me so proud. The real key here is sustained support acknowledging that it may well get worse before it gets better and even after the war is over there will be a long process of rebuilding. We simply cannot dilute our support when the media slacks off coverage of this crisis,” Tarver said.
“The outpouring of support from Canadians has been phenomenal. I would just say, please continue to offer this solidarity in any way you can, including social media for those most affected. And to continue to support organizations like World Vision who are on the ground to respond. It really makes a huge difference.
Tarver said that although he is exposed to what can be horrific situations and human suffering on a large scale, the work carried out by World Vision and other organizations is of crucial importance and he is proud of his contribution. .
“Working at World Vision has been an incredible life experience. Through my work, I have traveled to some of the most dangerous places to be a child, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The stories of people in these places break my heart over and over again, but I am determined to make even a small difference in any way I can.
He said the lesson of the impact of a small difference is one he tries to pass on to his two children.
“My goal as a father of two, Paris and Kylo, is to try to look beyond their own challenges in life, to teach them both the good and the bad things that can happen in life. this world and that everyone, even the smallest gestures can make the world a little better,” Tarver said.
For more information on how you can support World Vision Canada’s work for the people of Ukraine, please visit https://www.worldvision.ca