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Dear colleagues, students, members of our community,

Russia's aggression against Ukraine is a severe test for our neighbours, with whom we share centuries of history, democratic values and a desire for freedom. In these difficult days, the Ukrainian people need the support and backing of all of us. On behalf of the VU GMC leaders, I invite you to join us in supporting Ukraine and its people by contributing your time and energy, by sharing verified and reliable information, and, where possible, by providing financial and material support.

VU LSC INITIATIVES

VU LSC has decided to contribute to this phase with the following initiatives:

  1. To allocate premises at VU LSC for the temporary storage of donations collected by the Lithuanian Red Cross for Ukraine until they are complete and ready to be shipped to Ukraine.
  2. Invite researchers/teachers from Ukraine who are collaborating with VU LSC and who have lost the opportunity to do academic work in their home country due to the Russian aggression, to come to Vilnius to be temporarily employed by VU LSC.
  3. To express our opposition to the Russian aggression by sending letters of protest to the Russian institutions of science and studies, their departments, individual groups of scientists with whom we have had academic/disciplinary relations so far.
  4. We also encourage all members of our community to participate in national actions in support of Ukraine. A list of these actions is provided below.

SUPPORT

Here are some of the initiatives you can contribute to or support (in case the link provided leads to Lithuanian-only page, please ask your closest colleagues to assist):

  • If you are able to host refugee families or can organise transport from the border, take a look at the Strong Together initiative: https://stipruskartu.lt/
  • You can volunteer for humanitarian aid (packing, sorting, transporting, etc.), first aid and psychological care, registration of foreigners and other necessary activities. 


Red Cross volunteer registration: https://www.redcross.lt/savanoriaukite   
Registration for volunteering with Save the Children:   
Register to volunteer at the Food Bank: www.maistobankas.lt/reg
Registration for volunteering at Lithuanian Caritas: https://forms.gle/EkAD8iSJt4aYYr3x8  
Registration for volunteering with the Malteser Organisation: https://forms.office.com/r/E3gGXPpkvB

RELIABLE NEWS

As the information fog and propaganda intensifies, it is important to share RELIABLE information. Sources of reliable information (be sure to check the sources yourself) can be found on the VU TSMI Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TSPMI/posts/5542618252421803   

It is very important to remember that the quality of information, not the quantity, is what matters in this case. The lies spread by the aggressor's government-controlled TV, press and social portals should be completely ignored, as they are aimed at creating tension and intimidation. We should be immune to such news and rely only on national media broadcasters and other reliable sources.

HOW TO REDUCE TENSIONS

Stay strong, remember to take care of your emotional health. If you feel anxious and/or fearful, first limit the amount of information and select the sources you read/watch, and don't watch the news all the time. If you can't cope with your feelings, seek professional help at the VU Counselling and Training Centre: https://www.fsf.vu.lt/en/about-the-faculty/structure/counseling-and-training-center#counseling 

Psychologists say that fear and anxiety are different things. Fear has a specific object, anxiety does not. Of course, anxiety can be triggered by aggressive statements, public intimidation by aggressors to the world of which we, Lithuania, are a part. 

WE ARE SAFE

In this context, I would like to stress that Lithuania is safer today than ever, because we are part of a democratic world, we are members of the most powerful political and military alliance - NATO - and we are part of one of the world's largest economies, the European Union. All this gives us confidence that the aggression in Ukraine will not spread to our region. 

Alliance forces, analysts, soldiers, are monitoring and analysing the situation, gathering intelligence, analysing and preparing responses to different scenarios and ensuring that all inhabitants in EU are informed in a timely manner.

In this situation, I call on our community to stick to the daily routine, to plan and implement our academic activities, our projects to achieve our goals.  I would suggest to the more sensitive, closed-minded people not to be alone with their own thoughts. Communication helps us not to feel lonely, and shared pain, fear or anxiety is reduced.

SUGGESTIONS

Talk to your colleagues, your supervisor. All LSC supervisors, Institute Directors are available to discuss difficult cases in person, to offer advice and solutions to reduce anxiety in academic groups and laboratories. 

Let us remain calm and dignified, let us help those in need, and let us do what we can to help Ukraine and our relatives and friends. Let us be strong to help others! Our strength is in unity!

Respectfully,
Dr. Gintaras Valinčius
Director
Life Sciences Center
Vilnius University

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