Practical ways to help Ukraine and Ukrainians right now
Remind yourself that no amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen, but there are practical things that can change help in the invasion of Ukraine.
If you feel like everything you do in your life at the moment, whether it’s the absolute privilege of doing a food shop along stacked aisles or simply turning the key in your front door and feeling safe, feels trivial and small and pathetic compared to the monstrous tragedy happening in Ukraine and along its borders right now, you are not alone.
Our lives are so shamefully carefree that we want to look away, and yet looking and reading and hearing about it feels like the only respectful thing you can do, to witness this atrocity.
I’ve been clinging to this quote from Alan Watts this week. “No amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen.” Putting my time into my fears and worries is serving no one, least of all the people of Ukraine.
Something that has certainly been heightened since the Russian invasion, is our awareness of finding the right new source. We can never underestimate the importance of being armed with the right information so look for press with journalists on the ground.
Deciding to stay in a war zone to cover a conflict like Ukraine, is a professional decision and also deeply personal. Respect to ?@CliveMyrieBBC? and all media colleagues in #kyiv telling such an important story in difficult circumstances ?@BBCNews? ?@BBCWorld? pic.twitter.com/lnoKvzyyGX
— Christian Fraser (@CFraserBBC) March 1, 2022
As well as the big international publications such as BBC, NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Al Jazeera, who all have reporters stationed in Ukraine, there are plenty of local radio stations and newspapers reporting from their homeland.
The Kyiv Independent and Zaborona are two independent newspapers reporting live on the ground. They’ve also started a GoFundMe page to help other Ukrainian press stay open in other cities. It’s already raised more than £600,000 of its £800,000 goal but every little helps.
For more personal stories and an eye-witness account, Irish man Max Rantz McDonald, an LA-based events co-ordinator originally from volunteering along the Polish border. He’s documenting it on his Instagram Stories, giving a very direct insight as to what the minute-by-minute account of what life is like for Ukrainians coming across the border. He has also set up a GoFundMe.
At West Train Station in Warsaw again today, one volunteer said “there’s just more and more people coming”.
We’re stocking tables and they’re emptying in minutes. Awful feeling tomorrow will be even worse. pic.twitter.com/EgUG6wVXXC
— Chris York (@ChrisDYork) March 3, 2022
Chris York, a former HuffPost editor, is also on the ground in Warsaw, Poland, volunteering as thousands of refugees pass through the city near the Ukrainian border.
BBC’s Eastern Europe correspondent, Sarah Rainfort (who was expelled from Russia last year) is reporting from Dnipro in Ukraine, covering both on-the-ground news and information from her Russian contacts, giving a broad overview of the invasion on a macro and micro level.
Yesterday at #Dnipro train station. Men saying goodbye to their wives, sisters and children. Kissing the glass, saying I love you
One man kept smiling at his family, whilst repeating to himself: it’s going to be ok, everything will be ok. It’s going to be ok pic.twitter.com/DJAcJkCEO9
— Sarah Rainsford (@sarahrainsford) March 3, 2022
Donate, donate, donate
The people of Ireland, a country that regularly tops the list of the world’s most generous countries, are no strangers to donating their time, resources, and yes, money. We’re being asked to step up again with so many Ukrainian, Irish and international charities making appeals.
While there are plenty of wonderful Irish charities, companies and Ukrainian/Irish businesses currently collecting food, toiletries and clothes donations, Irish charities like the Irish Red Cross are discouraging people from giving physical donations as sending trucks to the Ukrainian border and beyond not only blocks up roads and access, it can also be difficult to distribute evenly.
A monetary donation can be sent to where it’s needed within seconds and means that volunteers on the ground can get to work immediately.
Some charities to donate to:
The last one is a GoFundMe page step up by a group of Irish-based Ukrainian doctors who are gathering medical supplies to help their colleagues in Ukraine. They’re looking for monetary donations but also Irish medical supply companies to partner with.
More than one million Ukrainian people had now been forced to flee their homeland according to the UN Refugee Agency, and up to 20,000 of them are expected to arrive on Irish soil in the coming months (Editor’s note: estimates have now jumped to 80,000). There’s an expectation that state accommodation alone will not be capable of housing that many refugees and Irish families will be asked to welcome them into their homes for a temporary period. As Minister Simon Coveney said, “this is a war effort” and there’s an expectation that Government will soon begin asking Irish people to sponsor and shelter incoming Ukrainian refugees.
If you have an empty bedroom, apartment or home, consider preparing it now to welcome someone in the near future. Pull in friends and family to help with painting and anything that needs work.
Ireland has added Ukraine to its list of countries that do not require a visa, meaning Ukrainians do not need to apply for a visa when travelling here now. Government has put a specific focus on streamlining the process for Ukrainians with family in Ireland, whether they are Irish or Ukrainian.
The EU has also instituted the temporary protection directive for the first time, allowing Ukrainians to essentially live as EU citizens in any EU country for up to three years, allowing them to work and study.
If you know someone who is Ukrainian and hoping to get to Ireland, The Irish Refugee Council offers information about the process in Ukrainian on their website, and The Journal has published an article explaining the visa waiver process in Ukrainian, with everything you need to know about what is required. Share these far and wide, anything you can do to lighten the load is welcome.