🇺🇦 Help beyond donations
With 3M+ million refugees and $600M+ in infrastructure damage, the amount of help is non-absorbable. Since the first day of the war, I paused all my professional work to offer full-time help to my family, friends, and the country. I’m writing this to share some best examples of help that I came across.
I spent last week in Portugal with my mother. Both of us were eager to help Ukrainian people, so we’ve connected with multiple volunteering organizations across the E.U. A particular organization that stood out for me was the Lisbon Project — it focuses on integrating refugees into the social fiber of Portugal. A team of international professionals developed an exceptional long-term, lasting community framework and had a lot to offer.
Among 20+ volunteers, we joined an orientation call to learn that there were 30+ openings for immediate help. The team of volunteers is structured to assist with healthcare, job search, childcare, and language. It took 45 minutes to get to know the team and their operation model, which is, by the way, impressive.
Most organizations we spoke with were looking for long-term help. It takes time to train new volunteers and build deep connections within refugee communities, so be willing to commit 3+ months. There are plenty of options, and as with any job search, it takes time to find the right fit. If you do have the extra 10+ hours/week, and the desire to help, take a few days to research organizations around you. I can guarantee you will find what you’re looking for, and it will be heartwarming. You can use this resource with links and references to volunteering organizations worldwide as a starting point.
I closely monitor how businesses respond to the conflict, but before I tell you more about it, let me share a moving story from a few days ago. In Portugal, I was helping my mother to prepare visa documents, so we went to a small shop to print hundreds of pages and take visa photos. In the end, the owner refused to take any money because he saw that we were from Ukraine. He also showed us a sign saying that his services were FREE for all Ukrainians.
This single-person-owned business made me think of how other companies are responding. That same week, my mother and I went to H&M to buy her cloth as she left with a small suitcase and didn’t have much to wear. Only after meeting that small business owner with a 0.0001% revenue of a big corporation did I start to think that businesses should do more. I’m grateful for the job that allows me to support my family. Still, millions of others are left with nothing and need businesses to quickly respond to this humanitarian problem.
My call to action to every reader — do you think your company could do more? If the answer is yes, bring this story to your next meeting. And for those in tech, I created an open-community resource with public responses by each tech company, so check that out.
Finally, I wanted to re-emphasize the importance of assisting Ukrainian refugees. So many of my friends and co-workers donated money, but when it comes to long-term sustainable help, we need to teach a man to fish.
During the past week, I spoke with many Ukrainians who fled the country. In all conversations, one thing was common — everyone genuinely wanted to help people back home but didn’t know where to start. There are language barriers that prevent people from integrating. There is the legality of working in a different country. There are basic needs that need to be provided first so one can think about work.
To offer long term help, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- Ukraine Take Shelter — I found this resource much more helpful than well-branded Airbnb.org.
- Remote Ukraine — matches talented refugees with jobs globally.