The Ukraine Russia war is in its fourth month and still the mayhem continues. Depending on which sources you look at about 5,000 or so civilians are dead, among them an estimated 270 children. More than 7 million Ukrainians have sought refuge in Poland, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and elsewhere in Europe. Russia is focusing on the Donbas region having failed in its mission to change the government in Kyiv. While this is a huge victory for Ukraine, soldiers and innocent people are still dying every day, arguably at a faster rate as the fighting intensifies.
I recently saw a LinkedIn update from Sergey, a friend I used to work with more than ten years ago in Chicago. His update said he was working on something called Ukraine Trust Chain. We had lost touch and I reached out. We ended up speaking for almost an hour and I spent time on the https://www.ukrainetrustchain.org/ website. Go check it out and donate if you can. Ukraine Trust Chain is the real deal!
The back story is that when the war started Sergey was looking for ways to contribute and support the Ukrainian people. Sergey is Russian and his wife is from Belarus. The team of individuals is all over the US. I found out that Juliya, my daughter’s middle school English teacher in Ann Arbor, is also involved in this effort as she was born in Odessa, Ukraine. What a small world we live in! What side to support is very clear. Anyone who sees how the situation has evolved understands who the aggressors are in this situation. The obvious place to donate to was the Red Cross, until news surfaced that the Red Cross was evacuating Ukrainians to Russia, the opposite direction of where people wanted to go. This was just a logistical issue but it led to a number of people looking for more meaningful ways to get involved. Through connections in Ukraine, Daniil was able to establish means of getting diapers and formula to newly-borns and eventually evacuating mothers with children to Western Ukraine. Soon Daniil was working with friends from the former Soviet Union in the US to help in any way possible. Ukraine Trust Chain was born.
They were able to establish local teams of volunteers in Ukraine, often embedded with the Ukrainian Army, which allowed these volunteers access to the front lines and being able to evacuate civilians, women and children. They got them supplies, medications, and food. Then they connected with an individual who had a local bank account in Ukraine which facilitated sending funds to Ukraine directly from the US, retrieving cash from ATMs on the streets of Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kyiv, and spending on humanitarian missions that same day. I am super impressed with the operation that the Ukraine Trust Chain team has pulled together and that is why I am sharing it here. These are real people making a real difference. Even if you cannot support the effort please visit their site here to see how ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. They are inspirational! Ukraine Trust Chain stands with Ukraine and we do too!
Below I share a few pictures I recently stumbled upon from living in Ukraine, trips back to Kyiv and Odessa.
With my dad downtown Kyiv, circa 1993 by the Khreschatyk Fountains
Me in Odessa with the City Hall in the background December 1999 by the monument to Alexander Pushkin, considered by some the greatest Russian poet, writer and playwright. I was in Ukraine for Y2K.
Downtown Kyiv in 2004, weeks before the Orange Revolution. I was visiting my grandmother in the Zhytomyr region.