It's been 119 days since my last email to you. And I feel like I owe an explanation, to you as a donor, supporter and volunteer.
Especially since you probably think UkraineNow stopped operating and nothing has been happening since then... 😬
But a lot has happened, we evacuated 4,452 people through our own scheduled bus rides (including 580 kids).
That's to the addition of over 4,000 people that we helped evacuate through our partners since Feb.
We've housed 410 refugees (173 kids) across Europe 💛💙
And delivered 317,515 kg of humanitarian aid, including 832 "food boxes" for individual families 📦
Who could have imagined such results? I definitely couldn't.
Moreover, I never thought I would go to Tijuana, Mexico to help thousands of Ukrainian refugees stuck at the border (25,000+ crossed in April). Moreover, I didn't even plan to bring 5 family members to US, but it happened. Which threw me out of my routine of overworking and added extra layer of emotional stress 🥵
And it would be a lie to say that I feel normal. I feel exhausted, burnt out, drained, changed. But then I look at all the impact we've done and I feel empowered. Empowered to find a way moving forward, despite the lack of donations and overall burnout of volunteers 💪
But as far as report of our work, there are two main things that happened recently that I have to mention;
First, we finally got an amazing coverage of our work in WashingtonPost, I highly recommend to watch the videos:
And we got a $50,000 donation from American public company:
As you can see we are still quite active but we are operating under extreme lack of volunteers, mostly because we have failed clearly communicate what exactly we are doing.
So I will attempt to do that here and within each of communication channels.
It does seem like UkraineNow started as "do it all" org mostly because the first weeks of war required it, we kept expanding with the idea that we can do all of it. Some time in April I got an epiphany put up our mission statement page except it was too abstract for anyone to understand.
It had too much reliance of "infrastructure" as a word, which is not clear.
So I've decided to explain what I mean as best as I can, and let me know if it's still not clear.
What is infrastructure and what are we really doing?
Clearly, we are not building physical roads or buildings. But we are doing something even more powerful, something we've observed being effective and impactful - virtual coordination, connecting the dots, accumulating resources and creating processes that others can utilize.
But enough with the abstract, let's talk examples:
1. Ministry of Social Policy (yes, Ukrainian government) came to us to help with their projects, the lacked developers and project management to increase awareness about their work and needs. We've provided developers and management component. As a result, our work can be seen on the government website. We developed an actual interactive map of humanitarian aid of Ukrainian government: https://www.msp.gov.ua/content/dashboard.html
2. FemSMS.org project (FootageFoundation) came to us and said they want to send messages of support to Ukrainian women. They didn't have technology, didn't have volunteers that speak the language, they didn't have psychologists to run interviews. We did it all.
3. Ukrainian volunteers in Tijuana needed stable internet, they didn't have connections to Starlink/SpaceX - we did and got them starlink in a day.
4. Ukrainian volunteers had no way to verify someone was indeed Ukrainian on the grounds of refugee hubs, we provided identity verification service to help with that. Thanks to "TyKhto" app that we funded underlying techonology for.
5. Project Tutors4Ukraine.org came to us from one of our core volunteers, he decided to kick it off but didn't have a database and forms to manage applications. We provided him with that very quickly given our relationship with Airtable.com. They also came to us for volunteers, we onboarded and sent a couple of those their way. They had a legal policy need and as unregistered initiative they utilized us being official 501(c)3 entity that has legal support of Cooley LLP (international law firm), something they would never be able to tap into.
6. NovaUkraine.org volunteers came to us with a need to transport refugees in US, we happened to have a partnership with Uber already for the free rides for refugees. So we enabled it next day. Same with other organizations on the ground requesting our help.
7. Ukrainian data scientists came to us with a need of computing power, we happened to have AI supercomputer that NVIDIA donated to us. So we gave them access and they improved the accuracy of their facial recognition software from 40% to 80%, that's a lot.
These are all things that would take weeks if not months for these projects to figure out on their own, and that's the power of infrastructure. A shared space where resources are consolidated, a shared "railroad" through which resources are streamlined, and a network effect of increasing productivity and decreasing costs.
That's what we want to keep doing moving forward, and I actually wanted to do since 2020. There is a reason I filed such a big statement for the non-profit organization application. I was meant to do what it did, it enabled UkraineNow to raise $400,000+ donations starting first days of war and help so many people across the world by coordinating volunteers through people and technology.
That's why I'm reaching out to you and asking for your help again.
Would you like to help Ukraine? If yes, shoot me a message back to firstname.lastname@example.org with what you want to help with.
If you are lost and have no ideas but have the charge - come solve some of the current challenges:
- redesigning and rebuilding UkraineNow website
- visualizing reports of our evacuation and humanitarian rides
- creating an ultimate list of all organizations helping Ukraine
- meeting our donors and getting them to support us more
- onboarding volunteers
Pick yours and let us know 🇺🇦
Thank you and stay tuned for more updates!