The day Russia invaded Ukraine is seared into Agata’s reminiscence. Compelled to behave, the Warsaw-based Googler put her title right into a Google Doc that listed workers providing their properties to these fleeing Ukraine. The following day, Agata’s family grew from six to 11 individuals. A Ukrainian Googler within the Czech Republic had gotten in contact about lodging for 5 family members who had escaped to Poland however had been unable to seek out housing.
“You are simply so comfortable that you simply’re doing one thing as a result of the sensation of helplessness is the worst,” Agata stated. She not solely spent the day earlier than her friends arrived prepping the home but in addition discovered the time to purchase a cake. “We needed to rejoice; we needed them to really feel welcome.”
As Agata’s household settled into their new routine with 11 individuals beneath their roof, Russia’s conflict in Ukraine continued. At present, greater than 7 million refugees have fled Ukraine — the vast majority of them ladies, kids and the aged — making this Europe’s largest refugee disaster since World Struggle II. Googlers like Agata have stepped as much as assist these affected by the conflict, from internet hosting refugees and transporting individuals throughout the border to offering provides and beginning help organizations.
Initially, probably the most speedy want was to assist individuals fleeing the nation discover a protected place to remain. Googlers had been utilizing Docs — just like the one Agata put her title into — to attach these in want with these keen to assist. These connections helped Dublin-based Googler Olga get her mom, sister-in-law, nephew and niece out of Ukraine and into security.
“When the conflict started, the toughest factor was convincing households to flee. No person desires to move into the unknown — they’re leaving the whole lot behind and do not know if they may come again,” stated Olga, who has a brother who needed to keep behind in Ukraine. “I wanted them to know they’d someplace to go.”
Because of Mária, who was working for Google whereas based mostly in Bratislava, Olga’s household did have someplace to go as soon as they’d made a harrowing, days-long drive to the Slovakian border. After different Googlers related the 2 ladies, Mária organized for her father to select up Olga’s household on the border crossing with a cardboard signal and the promise of a spot to sleep. Mária’s household hosted them till they had been capable of reunite with Olga in Dublin.
“I’ll all the time be grateful to Mária and her household,” stated Olga. “It was so extremely variety — far past the kindness you anticipate from strangers.”
The goodwill of strangers has been a working theme all through the conflict, as was the case when a gaggle of 4 Googlers based mostly in Italy joined along with a need to assist. Giovanni, Federica, William and Jacopo funded and coordinated a multi-day mission to drive greater than 40 hours to select up a household of 10 on the Ukrainian border and unite them with their grandmother in Rome.
Federica helped drive from Venice to the refugee middle on the Polish-Ukrainian border to fulfill the group. “These had been two moms leaving their children with us, they usually’d been touring per week to get up to now. To observe them say goodbye — figuring out that they had been going again right into a warzone and their children had been going away with individuals they’d by no means met earlier than — was a picture that just about goes in opposition to nature,” she stated. “Finally, utilizing Google Translate, the 2 moms informed us: ‘We’re so comfortable you’re bringing our children to their grandma.’ Saying goodbye to those two ladies was probably the most troublesome a part of the entire journey.”
“After we had been organizing and planning the journey, I used to be filled with stress and concern. However as soon as we began, that concern was changed by vitality,” stated Giovanni. “After we obtained again to Rome, and I noticed their grandmother opening the doorways of this massive home a pal had given her for the household to remain in, and the children rushed to her and embraced — that was a distinct form of vitality. To see this human connection was so fulfilling. You are feeling such as you did a little bit to assist — you gave again.”
These 4 Googlers weren’t the one ones packing vehicles with individuals and provides to assist out. Warsaw-based Googler Slawek loaded teams of eight individuals — and their baggage and pets — right into a borrowed station wagon a number of instances whereas main a convoy of 5 vehicles into Ukraine. Collectively, Slawek and the opposite volunteer drivers transported refugees caught on the overcrowded railway stations in Lviv to frame crossings.
The preliminary urge to help these affected by the conflict unfold nicely past Googlers residing in Europe. When the conflict broke out, Mike, a Polish-born Googler based mostly in Michigan, felt pulled to return to his house nation. After a month of fundraising, he spent April in Poland close to the Ukraine border. There, Mike clocked over 6,000 miles of driving to ship meals, toiletries and different provides to facilities that wanted them. And he all the time made room for sweets to cheer up the children.
Early in his journey, Mike met a 14-year-old boy who had arrived in Poland per week earlier. The boy, whose dad stayed behind to struggle, hadn’t heard from his father in days. “I had a soccer ball with me and gave it to him — his eyes completely lit up,” Mike stated. “It wasn’t simply meals and water that was wanted. Giving him one thing that introduced pleasure and seeing how he reacted will persist with me without end.”
Past the preliminary help, some Googlers like Isa have centered on long-term rebuilding efforts. Isa, based mostly in Germany, labored with a small Ukrainian-German group to create Lighthouse Ukraine. Lighthouse Ukraine hosts occasions that collect dozens of NGOs in a single place to supply info and direct help for refugees. The primary occasion was in Isa’s hometown of Berlin, and, in Might, they took Lighthouse Ukraine international. Over the previous few months Lighthouse Ukraine has reached greater than 20,000 refugees.
For Ukraine-born and Berlin-based Googler Nina, the work to rebuild is deeply private. Most of her relations had been within the nation when the invasion started, and plenty of nonetheless are with no approach out.
Simply days after the invasion, Nina — alongside a gaggle of volunteers — created United for Ukraine (UFU), a nonprofit that helps 1000’s of displaced individuals discover companies and help for issues like momentary housing, authorized help and psychological help. At present, the nonprofit has grown to greater than 150 volunteers and consists of Googlers like Dublin-based, Ukraine-born Ella. By the tip of summer season, United for Ukraine had supplied important info to greater than 200,000 individuals — serving to over 10,000 individuals into momentary lodging and supporting over 4,500 individuals with authorized help.