Stand on the Side of Peace

This HapaPost is a little different. It’s personal. I’m privileged to have this space to share my story and speak openly about an issue close to my heart.

I was born in the Russian Arctic, in a small port town of Pevek. Despite the harsh Arctic conditions, this Russian land was beautiful and my parents dreamt of building a small home there. But, as the political landscape began to change, my parents made a choice to relocate to my father’s birth country of Ukraine.

Ukraine became my home. My childhood memories, my school years, my friendships were “birthed” on the Ukrainian land. Then, the economic crisis of the ’90s hit, and like many, my family sought refuge in the United States. Today, I’m an American citizen and I am proud to represent this country. The United States has been my beautiful home for two decades, but the Ukrainian soil is still on my feet, and the Russian/Ukrainian spirit is forever a part of my identity.

As I watch this horrific war unfold on the news, and follow the whereabouts of my friends with their children trying to seek shelter, it hits me in my gut. I’m heartbroken, angry, confused, stupefied. But my emotions do very little for the men, women, and children fighting to survive this catastrophe. I want to help.

Ukrainian soil is still on my feet.

With the assistance of family, US, and Ukrainian friends, I have been collecting and vetting a list of various organizations that promise to provide direct, local sources of aid (food, shelter, supplies) to the people affected by this war, specifically the refugees.

Unfortunately, without being “on the ground”, these sources are difficult to locate and legitimize, and sometimes prove to be fraudulent and opportunist. Therefore, I decided to focus on established 401(c)(3) organizations with a proven track record and high charity rating by Charity Navigator. I have selected four organizations outlined below to spread awareness of their efforts to help the refugees, and to offer options to all who want to help support those in need of urgent help. You can also download a shareable PDF version to help raise awareness.

Let us stand on the side of peace.

World Central Kitchen

501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 27-3521132

Ideal for supporting refugees with healthy, homemade meals, World Central Kitchen has set up meal stations at Polish border crossings to feed refugees. Chef José Andrés (the founder) has arrived in Lviv to help with meal prep and deliveries of food to people in the subways and bunkers in Ukraine. The team also set up a food station in Romania as they try to expand their reach for refugees.

Sunflower of Peace

501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 47-2620675

Ideal for front-line and refugee medical response, Sunflower of Peace is acquiring and distributing tactical backpacks to volunteer organizations in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Each backpack has the ability to save up to 10 lives and includes first aid supplies such as: bandages, medicines, and medical instruments.

Voices of Children

Charitable Foundation

Ideal for refugee relief and mental health of children, Voices of Children is a Ukrainian-based organization that is currently providing Ukrainian families shelter by partnering with local restaurants, assisting in the evacuation process, and providing emergency psychological help.

Doctors Without Borders

501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 13-3433452

Ideal for medical response to refugees, Doctors Without Borders is working to set up emergency response activities in Ukraine and dispatching teams to Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.