A WOMAN living on the Isle of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides is aiming to garner support for a Ukrainian charitable foundation supporting the rebuilding of the country’s energy infrastructure amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

Camille Dressler is the chair of the Scottish Islands Federation (SIF), an organisation which helps to promote the interests and sustainability of island communities across Scotland.

In February, while representing SIF at the Greening The Islands Observatory Summit in Gran Canaria, she was introduced to Artem Semenyshyn, who sits on the supervisory board of RePower Ukraine.

The charity’s motto – “resilience and green recovery for Ukraine” – sums up its mission. It aims to provide emergency power to Ukrainians with renewable energy sources during the war and post-war period.

One of the foundation’s key goals is to help repower hospitals. Since the beginning of the war, almost 200 medical facilities have been destroyed while another 1000 have been damaged.

The Sunday National spoke with Oleksandr Diachenko, the director of the charity, who explained more about what they want to achieve.

Speaking from Kyiv, he said: “The philosophy of our fund is to rebuild our energy system but in a proper way, in the way of green energy.

“I think this is very important. Secondly, the world energy map is changing and Russian aggression is speeding up this process not just in Europe but across the world to change a reliance on traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy.

“Our philosophy is not only to help but to change the mind of the people that green energy means independence, it is the right way for success and for stability.”

Part of what the charity is aiming to raise funds for is portable power banks, fuelled by solar energy, which can be distributed across the country.

Another volunteer with the organisation, Julia Tsukanova, told the Sunday National: “How many lives can be saved by only one kilowatt of electricity? Have you ever thought about it? It’s thousands.

“Most premature babies can’t live on their own without a huge number of complex mechanisms and they can only work with electricity.

“Time is needed before generators can start working and the doctors in hospitals only have seconds.

“Power banks are the most simple and efficient way forward because sometimes it’s not possible to find fuel for generators.”

Diachenko explained one story about a Dr Igor Belkin, head of surgery at a major hospital in the Zaporizhzhia region, who has been forced to perform operations on patients in a cramped underground cellar with only his mobile light to help.

He added: “You might ask, why do we choose hospitals? This is a big problem in Ukraine because a lot of missile attacks such as three months ago destroyed a lot of hospitals near the border.

“And people, maybe a million now, need medical help and the most important resource is energy, so that’s why we choose hospitals.”

Green energy is very much part of a long-term plan. As Diachenko explains, following soldiers’ return from war, the plan is to educate them on how to install solar roof systems.

She told the Sunday National: “If the membership of the SIF can share this appeal for emergency batteries, solar kits and storage units, and if everyone who saw it sent the cost of a small battery bank, that would soon mount up.

“Dr Belkin and his team would then know they can save more lives because right now, electricity has actually become a medical tool.

“At the end of the day, it is all about international solidarity and cooperation between people.”

It’s a cause close to Dressler’s heart as her mother was born during her parents’ flight from Ukraine to Poland in 1920. Her family was then forced to flee Poland when Germany invaded in 1939.

“Her and her family made it through because of many people’s help along the way. And now we are witnessing horrific things happening and people having to flee their country again, and we feel powerless to know what to do to help.

“So it feels a bit better to at least share the RePower Ukraine campaign. I hope Scotland’s people will also be able to contribute.

“Island people are generous, and I think they will want to help as much as they can.”

Dressler is helping the Repower Ukraine charity through the gofundme platform (https://gofund.me/73f5b8b1) although people can also donate through their website.