It's been 21 months now since the war started. I can't remember anything from the first days except for horror and darkness. Later came the feeling that everything is unreal, and fruitless attempt to understand how this could happen. But after Bucha and Mariupol the cold understanding came that nothing can be undone and that life is forever divided into before and after.
On the personal level, as my brother's wife put it after 7 days long dangerous evac with 2 kids: "we aren't among those who got the worst of it". Children of our families are safe in Eastern Europe and adults try to provide for them as best as they can. My parents are still in Kyiv, by choice, which brings a new weight of anxious uncertainty to the entire family.
I know that many countries shared the burden of russian aggression by accepting our refugees (= hardworking, but traumatized people who are yet to integrate into society) and helping with defense weapons (= tax money), and it's hard to keep asking for more. But if you are on this page, it probably means you are looking to help so here are some possible ways:
- We always need to spread awareness about war crimes committed by invaders. If we don't talk about it, the history will repeat itself (look up Grozny, the Georgian war, crimes again human rights in Belarus, Crimea annexation, 8 years long war on Donbas, and other bloody and almost silent "achievements" of russian colonialism).
Here is a news website that I follow since the Orange Revolution in 2004 - only checked, brief and factual news in English, and you can share with one click: https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/
- As another way to help, we the diaspora arrange a big range of fundraisers - from bake sales and charity auctions to festivals of Ukrainian film and vyshyvanka parades. I try to share some of the local events on my personal profile (https://www.facebook.com/aliona.kuz/) each week, but myriads of other events for any taste can be found online.
I also share some Ukrainian designers and brands. The delivery can take a while, but the goods are always one of a kind and you also help fellow entrepreneurs make a living during these very trying times.
Also here is a link to a few trusted charities, this is the link we got on the diaspora meeting on the first day of war: https://www.stopputin.net/
- Finally, another way to help is to offer your time. If you are a lawyer, doctor, or career adviser, perhaps you could allocate a couple of hours a week to help refugees at a discounted rate. If you are a developer, photographer, or yogi, free classes for children or adults can help refugees to feel safe and connected again. If you don't have any specific skills, even translating for someone or meeting someone for coffee to answer practical questions could be of great help.
As a fun example, it took me 6 months in Switzerland to learn that it's possible to buy sour cream and what it's called. As it's an important ingredient in many Ukrainian dishes, it was sorely missed :) And in general, just to know that someone cares enough to spend some time with you in a new strange country sometimes makes all the difference.