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Humanity in a Time of Crisis


March 8, 2022

Crises don’t build character, they reveal it.

A group of people gather around a smattering of bags and donated items in Poland.

© UNHCR/Chris Melzer

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, people around the world are taking action to support those who have been impacted. We’re inspired by the bravery so many are showing during this dark time, in defense of democracy and on behalf of their communities. Leaders in our network—and people, organizations, and companies all over the world—have stepped up to support those in Ukraine and across the region.

Below are a selection of stories that embody the character and humanity revealed during this crisis. We hope you find inspiration in this work. If you’re looking for ways to support immediate action on the ground, take action here.

Zarlasht smiles off camera, with two people on either side of her.

A Safe Haven for Refugees

Drawing on her own story as a refugee, 2018 Obama Fellow Zarlasht Halaimzai started the Refugee Trauma Initiative (RTI) to offer support and care to forcibly displaced people in Greece, helping them cope with the impact their journeys have had on their bodies, minds and spirits. Now, her organization is providing lifesaving support for those in need in  Ukraine Opens in a new tab . “The Refugee Trauma Initiative is mobilizing psychological first aid to Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries,” Zarlasht shared.

Airbnb extends support for refugees fleeing Ukraine is offering free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. Anyone interested in opening their homes to support this effort can learn how to get involved.  Learn more from + Opens in a new tab

Federica Vinci looks to camera wearing a gray hooded coat. In the background, people are seen standing near boxes and bags of supplies.

Obama Foundation Leader organizes a supply chain for the Ukrainian border

Federica Vinci is the deputy mayor of her hometown of Isernia, Italy. In response to the crisis, she took action. “We organized the first collection of primary needs goods together with a Ukrainian family living in the town,” Federica explained. “Since this first event, citizens and NGOs are organizing themselves to keep collecting weekly medicines and goods that are then sent to the Ukrainian borders.” Learn more about Federica +

A man holds soccer balls above the heads of small children.

Two Obama Foundation European Leaders team up to source lodging for Ukrainians

Farhad Shamo Roto, an Ezidi refugee in France and President of Voice of Ezidis, and Nick Antipov, a Belarusian LGBTQ defender and asylum seeker in Berlin, worked together to create Opens in a new tab . The web-based application aggregates available accommodation for people fleeing the conflict. So far, they have sourced hosts on almost every continent.

Seven empty strollers in a line on a train platform.

The story behind viral photo of strollers left for refugees at Polish border

When photojournalist Francesco Malavolta snapped a photo of strollers lined up at a train station in Poland on March 3, he did not realize the moment might go viral as a powerful symbol of solidarity with refugees.  Read more from Today + Opens in a new tab

Chefs for Ukraine: How the food world is showing up for Ukraine

José Andrés’ nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen (WCK), has set up mobile kitchens on the Ukrainian border and near transit hubs that are being used by refugees. The kitchens are serving thousands of hot meals a day and serving up comfort food including apple pies and hearty soups.  Read more from Today + Opens in a new tab

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher launch GoFundMe to support aid efforts

Galvanized by her Ukrainian identity, actress Mila Kunis and her husband created a fundraiser to provide refugee and humanitarian aid efforts for those on the ground who need it most.  Learn more from GoFundMe + Opens in a new tab

Chicagoans are finding ways to show support

Over 50,000 Chicagoans identify as having Ukrainian ancestry, making it the second-largest Ukrainian-American community in the country. Through rallies, fundraisers, and donation drives, Chicagoans from across the city have found ways to show support.  Read more from Eater + Opens in a new tab

A group of people carry bags and walk about three feet apart in a line. A cloudy blue sky can be seen behind them.

Take Action

Check out ways you can help the people of Ukraine. Act now +

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