Inspiring stories of kindness and connection in the midst of a humanitarian crisis
On February 24th, the world turned upside down once again with the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian federation. Beyond the politics of war, there is the everyday reality — the human toll — of war. During times of unrest and violence, the moments of humanity and empathy shine bright to bring a sense of hope and possibility amidst the darkness.
At Nextdoor, we strive to foster a sense of belonging and ensure everyone has a neighbourhood they can rely on. To support our Ukrainian neighbours and Ukrainian refugees, we are partnering with humanitarian organisations including the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Red Cross to donate advertising space that promotes Ukrainian relief efforts and effective disaster response in Nextdoor neighbourhoods globally.
Here are a handful of ways neighbours globally are responding to the crisis in Ukraine to provide humanitarian relief and help cultivate a kinder, more peaceful world.
A north London neighbour helps deaf Ukrainians get to safety
Elena who is originally from Moldova and who has worked with deaf people all her life is currently helping deaf Ukrainians get to safety beyond Ukraine, “War is terrifying for anyone but when you are deaf there are additional safety concerns and you need support”. Using her network of family members, friends and colleagues, she has been working day and night to provide food and shelter to refugees in Moldova and Romania. One group of women who had travelled to Moldova with babies were placed in a building without any hot water, or heating – they were desperate. Her network has so far provided warmth, support and crucially, can speak Russian sign language which is used amongst the deaf community in Ukraine. On Monday she will travel to Romania to welcome the refugees and help them get the support they need. Having learnt both Russian and UK sign language, she will return to London and welcome a refugee to her own home later in the month. She is using Nextdoor to connect with neighbours, build community and raise awareness of her fundraising page. She is raising money to help with transportation, shelter and food.
Madrid neighbours mobilise to welcome thousands of refugees
The Spanish Commission for Refugees, a humanitarian nonprofit, is preparing to receive thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Their priority is to ensure the most vulnerable people, such as children and their families, are welcomed to the country and to meet their most urgent and specific needs. The Spanish Commission for Refugees is using Nextdoor to spread the word in Spain and share how neighbours can help. They have received an outpouring of support from neighbours who are offering donations, or even their homes for refugees to stay in. Several others volunteered translation services to be interpreters to welcome the refugees.
Amsterdam neighbours help mother and daughter Ukrainian refugees
In the Netherlands, Kateryna posted on Nextdoor that her mother and six-year-old sister had fled from Kyiv and arrived in Amsterdam. She reached out to ask for recommendations for local schools and helpful activities that may help her little sister adjust to the transition and recover from the trauma she has experienced. The post received dozens of heartwarming responses with useful information and donations for the little girl. Some neighbours with kids of a similar age offered to organise play dates with Kateryna’s sister to make her feel welcomed to the community.
Canadians serve borscht in the backyard to fundraise and support Ukraine
Like many of the more than 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent living in Canada, for Jusstyna, a neighbour in Toronto, the crisis in Ukraine hits home. To help, Jusstyna, a local artist, joined forces with her fellow studio mates to invite neighbours over for a cup of traditional Ukrainian, Polish, Russian borscht over a fire in the courtyard behind their art studio. The soup was free of charge and neighbours who were able to were encouraged to donate money made to a foundation for refugees.
To help get the world out, Jusstyna turned to Nextdoor with a post the night before. She was blown away by the turn out and proud to witness the diversity of her neighbours who came — many of whom she previously had not met. People of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds gathered around the fire, sipping their hot borscht and getting to know one another. Not only did this serve as a fundraiser, but it brought people together who are affected by the crisis in Ukraine to share their stories and offer support.
Ukrainian neighbour organises community gathering to “give peace a chance” – Morgan Hill, CA
To voice his support for Ukraine, Rob was inspired to post a quote from Julian Lennon (John Lennon’s son) on Nextdoor: “Give peace a chance.” A Ukrainian neighbour named Svetlana was moved by Rob’s post and suggested they organise a community event in solidarity. Svetlana moved to the U.S. from Kyiv when she was seven years old and was eager to find a way to help her native country from afar. In less than 48 hours after connecting on Nextdoor, Rob and Svetlana had obtained a permit to organise a peaceful gathering at a local amphitheatre. Svetlana created Ukrainian flags, pins, and posters while Rob began inviting neighbours to the event through Nextdoor sharing, “Let’s put all of our differences aside and meet to help the people of Ukraine.” Ultimately, around 200 people showed up including the mayor, city council members, police department, and the local rabbi. Svetlana shared her feelings in a speech: “Standing on the stage and seeing so many people come out to represent Ukraine truly filled my heart with joy. We cannot let evil win. We cannot let greed win. We cannot let hate win. Love defeats hate. Let’s give peace a chance.”
Southern California neighbours rally to welcome Ukrainian refugee children to the community
6-year-old Tomac and 8-year-old Rita had to flee their home in Ukraine when the invasion began. Their mother was able to escape with the children to Poland while their father, a U.S. citizen who moved to Ukraine over a decade ago, decided to stay behind and join the resistance to defend the country that became his home. Since Rita and Tomac have dual citizenship in the U.S., their mother decided it would be safest if the children went to stay with their grandparents in Riverside, CA. So, grandparents, Sue and Steve flew to Poland to meet the children and safely bring them back to the U.S.
Dorrie, a Riverside neighbour and dear friend of the family, heard about the children’s arrival and knew the retired grandparents had already spent an unexpected $10,000 on airfare, hotels, and helping out the family. As the children were arriving with nearly no belongings and only the clothes on their backs, Dorrie put out a call for help on Nextdoor to see if her community would be able to donate any essentials. She was shocked to see over 1,000 reactions and dozens of neighbours began dropping off clothes, books, toys, backpacks, art supplies, gift cards, and even drawings to welcome the kids to the U.S. and make their transition a bit easier. They ended up receiving more donations than they even needed, and now plan to send any extras to refugee camps to help other Ukrainian children. While Rita and Tomac are still adjusting and don’t quite comprehend the severity of their situation, Dorrie shared, “The outpouring of support for the family and the kids from the community has been overwhelming. The generosity and kindness of the Nextdoor community have brought us all to tears many times.”
During this global humanitarian crisis, we all must be willing to boldly act to support and uplift one another. A little kindness can go a long way towards making the world a better place.
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