Helping Ukrainian Refugees in Poland

"Over the last 10 days, Poland has turned into the biggest ever humanitarian organization helping Ukraine and Ukrainians. You might think it's the job of governments and humanitarian organizations. Yes, it is. But they are big and with huge inertia. I'm sure they will do a lot, but the ramp-up is relatively slow. That is why local actions are so important now. Here in Poland, we are buying food, water, blankets, clothes, even defense bullet vests, organizing transports of refugees from the border to our houses and much more. We - civilians, with our own money, with our own time. We need you to join us!
Joanna Borucka, a Polish entrepreneur and a CEO of several small businesses.
Joanna and her colleague, Olena Stukanova, are my associates in Poland. Like many other citizens of Poland, they have been volunteering after work or through the night and have been helping raise funds for the immediate needs of Ukrainian refugees.

I am originally from Rostov-on-Don (Russia), and moved to the US in 1996 to attend graduate school. Rostov-on-Don is the largest city in South Russia and the centre of Russia's Southern Federal District with the population of 1,109,800 people. And it's only about 52 miles from the border with Ukraine! The city was founded in 1749, and since that time, Ukrainian and Russian people have been interconnected in brotherhood. Moreover, my maternal grandparents are from Odessa (Ukraine) and relocated to Rostov-on-Don right after the WWII. My paternal grandparents also have Ukrainian roots... As a joke, I've always said that I have more Ukrainian than Russian blood in me :-). 

Being torn by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I cannot stay on the sideline! I will be traveling to Poland in a few weeks to serve as a Russian and English interpreter and work with refugees. I am fluent in Russian, and Russian and English translation services are in high demand as many Ukrainian refugees speak Russian. There is also a significant number of English-speaking non-Ukrainian refugees (e.g., international students, contractors) who are facing discriminations while fleeing conflict zones.

I am funding the trip myself. Based on my communication with Joanna and Olena, in addition to volunteering, there are many other ways for a significant impact at a local level if funds are available. Thus, I decided to start this fundraiser! My goal is to apply raised funds in coordination with refugee services in Warsaw, Poland, as well as to develop local connections for ongoing multilevel help from the Union Institute & University.
If you feel called to help these efforts, please be assured your financial investments will impact those most in need.
Yulia Tolstikov-Mast
P.S. The pictures are taken by my colleagues in Poland: rented buses to transport refugees from the border to the refugee centers in Warsaw or Krakow, medical supplies purchased by a group of friends, food distributed by local volunteers.
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Yulia Tolstikov-Mast 
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