Sauna-Aid delivers mobile saunas to frontline in Ukraine

The International Sauna Association launches global campaign to raise funds


By Mark Smith

03 January 2023

The International Sauna Association (ISA), along with several national sauna associations, is raising funds to support Sauna-Aid, a non-profit initiative designed to bring the healing benefits of sauna to Ukraine and its refugees in neighbouring countries.

Sauna-Aid has raised approximately €20,000 (£17,600) to date and is seeking to raise an additional €15,000 to cover basic equipment costs and delivery of a container sauna donated by Slovakia-based Pixxla Sauna.

man with Tanya birch branches outside sauna

“We have a very simple message for our efforts in Ukraine: There is no war in sauna! Sauna is a social event that promotes peace and a shared sense of humanity in a healing atmosphere.”

Risto Elomaa

President, International Sauna Association

About Sauna-Aid

The Sauna-Aid initiative was launched on February 24, 2022 in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Inspired by the actions of the Japanese Sauna Society, an ISA member, which provided a tent sauna to victims of the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear plant disaster, Sauna-Aid founders Mikkel Aaland and Elomaa mobilised volunteers and, almost immediately, had partnered with Lithuanian bathhouses to facilitate refugee bathing sessions.

mobile sauna on a trailer
A Sauna Aid container ready for delivery

The next stage included delivering mobile saunas to serve Ukrainian soldiers remaining in the country, two of which are now in situated at a Kharkiv lakefront thanks to cooperation from the local government.

“Sauna bathing means different things to different cultures. In Ukraine, as with much of eastern Europe, the sauna (aka banya or laznia) is not considered a luxury, instead, it’s an essential part of everyday life. It brings joy, healing and a sense of belonging,” said Mikkel Aaland, Sauna Aid volunteer and author/host, Perfect Sweat documentary. “What other human activity combines the physical, social and spiritual under one roof?”

mobile sauna being delivered in Ukraine
Mobile sauna being delivered in Ukraine for Sauna-Aid initiative

Fundraising goals in 2023

The organisation aims to raise €100,000 in 2023 to fund continued efforts in Ukraine and to lay the foundation for global action.

“Our intention is to take Sauna-Aid global, bringing the healing power of sauna wherever manmade or natural disaster strikes,” said Aaland. “And are working to build a fleet of saunas in standardised shipping containers that can be shipped all over the world, ready to use.”

About the International Sauna Association 

The International Sauna Association (ISA) is a non-profit association of over 20 national sauna societies. The ISA was founded in 1958. Its goal is publicising the sauna and promoting its use on a global scale by rallying supporters of sauna activities in different countries as well as promoting the scientific studies of the history, sociology, and medical benefits of the sauna.

Sauna-Aid is already collaborating with local and global NGOs to expand sauna deployment in Ukraine into schools and churches. The organisation is also developing standards and blueprints for home-grown tent sauna manufacturing to speed up deployment wherever Sauna-Aid is needed in the world.

In addition, it is expanding its sauna trauma training programme for bath attendants and planning to create and maintain a database of volunteer bath attendants and participating bathhouses ready to support Sauna-Aid’s efforts in the Ukraine and globally.

Be connected...

To learn more about Sauna-Aid, how to donate, help raise funds, volunteer or offer materials, please click here,


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