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Ukrainian refugees receiving help in Romania

Students Working to Aid Ukrainian Refugees

Two Yale SOM students with roots in Romania are raising money and coordinating housing for refugees.

Two Yale School of Management students with deep ties to Eastern Europe are spearheading efforts to help refugees fleeing Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion.

The students, Tim Marian ’23 and Alexandra Platon ’23, are leading fundraisers and housing assistance campaigns that together have so far raised $20,000 and helped hundreds of refugees find housing. Both Marian and Platon are students in the MBA for Executives program.

A native of Romania, Marian is a portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley. He currently lives in the United States, but makes frequent trips to his hometown of Zalau, Romania. After the invasion of Ukraine, he partnered with the University of Bucharest, area churches, and government contacts to house refugees in empty university dorm rooms and in local homes.

Marian’s Yale SOM classmates have donated about $9,000 to his efforts.

“People are being displaced from their homes, especially women and children,” Marian said, speaking by phone from Bucharest on March 1. “There’s a huge influx of people going into Romania, and they need help. The EMBA class got together and said, ‘Let’s do something.’”

Refugees who have family in Western nations are tending to use the housing services for a short layover on their journey, Marian said. “But people who don’t have anybody in the West, they’re welcome to stay for quite a while.”

Marian’s presence on the ground allows him to vouch for the financial integrity of the operation. “I want everyone to feel confident that their donations are helping Ukrainian refugees,” he said. “I’m here. I know where the money is going.”

Like Marian, Platon is assisting refugees fleeing into Romania. Born in Romania, Platon relocated to Seattle in 2017 for a new position in her company. Platon’s sister, who lives in northeast Romania, close to the Ukraine border, began buying food for refugees crossing the border.

“I immediately contacted my IT engineer friends and asked for help to create a website and other media channels to help the refugees with useful information and also to help us collect donations,” Platon said. She has also established a Venmo account, Facebook and PayPal fundraisers, and a Revolut account.

To date, the channels have collected more than $10,000. The first donations bought food, water, and other supplies for 50 people crossing the border. Further funds are going toward housing and transportation, including more than 70 hotel rooms and food as of March 1.

“We also rented a bus and transported 25 people from Botosani to Oradea, on the western border with Hungary,” Platon said. “And we started working with a local organization helping the refugees with disabilities. We paid for hotel accommodations for 14 people with hearing and speech impairments.”

Platon is encouraging people to donate or volunteer. Information is available on her website.

“I have a lot of friends in Eastern Europe,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see my friends and their families go through this nightmare, and I’ll use all my resources to help them.”

Marian echoed the sentiment. “It’s part of being human,” he said. “I have kids, too, and if this were happening to me, I’d want people with my resources to do this for me.”

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Platon.