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Teaming Up to Aid Ukrainian Refugees

MBA for Executives students Ella Archibald ’22, Bart McDonough ’23, and Ali Platon ’23 recount their efforts to support Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

Update

May 13, 2022

At the end of April and beginning of May, we traveled to Poland, where we found a facility housing refugees and bought supplies that the staff and residents told us they needed. There were more than 270 refugees there, of which more than 100 are children. As you can see in some of the photos, we purchased canned meat, clothing, kitchen equipment, and Wi-Fi equipment. We were also at the Poland/Ukraine border on May 3, which you can see in these photos.

During the trip we have identified more needs that we want to address:

  1. The children in the shelters don’t have access to education. The Polish schools are already full. We are trying to come up with a solution for online learning. We are also working on providing laptops to the children. The EMBA Class of ’22 started donating their Microsoft Surfaces after graduation.
  2. The refugees who lost their jobs need guidance to build their résumés and to prepare for the interviews. We are addressing this through our digital platform and also with a few collaborations with different executives.
  3. On our first day we met a doctor from Rhode Island who was volunteering at the border. He is working on a project to recruit volunteer doctors from the U.S. and EU to temporarily relocate to Western Ukraine so that the Ukrainian doctors can move closer to the war zones and help the soldiers. Bart reviewed the project, and we are planning to collaborate more with them.
  4. We decided to open a nonprofit organization together with other EMBA classmates and to address the above-mentioned issues at a bigger scale.

We are planning to go to Poland again in August since this was a very productive action.

 

two people at a grocery store checkout
ferris wheel with a sign that says Krakov in front of it
two people in a car surrounded by boxes of food
three people in front of flags at Poland/Ukraine border
children's artwork
group of children and Yale banner
stacks of canned goods filling a storage room
people in a room organizing donated goods
person carrying boxes of canned meat

Update

April 13, 2022

As the war in Ukraine continues to escalate, the number of refugees is increasing at an alarming rate. More than 4.6 million people have left Ukraine since February 24. Most of them still need immediate support for accommodations, food, medical supplies, and transportation. Those who managed to leave the country earlier and relocate to other countries need support in rebuilding their lives, finding jobs, raising their families, and starting over.

In the immediate aftermath of the refugee crisis, Yale EMBAs stepped up and began a fundraising campaign. This was very successful. Between the ’22 and ’23 cohorts, $25,000 was raised. However, we soon realized we, as a community, could do more considering the ever-increasing magnitude of the humanitarian crisis. Therefore, we decided to turn our energy toward assisting refugees in starting a new life, in addition to continuing helping the refugees at the borders.

Led by the extraordinary efforts of Ali Platon, we have launched a digital platform, ThePathForward.help, which facilities the connection between Yale volunteers and the Ukrainian refugees. In collaboration with Nima Software and with assistance from classmates Bart McDonough ’23 and Kelsey Overby ’23, the platform is available for volunteers to register and offer support with career development, business advice, resume building, interview preparations, job applications, etc. We are inviting anyone who is interested in joining our cause to register on ThePathForward.help.

In addition to launching ThePathForward, we are also continuing to support the refugees who need immediate help at the various borders. With more than 2.5M refugees already crossed the border in Poland, Ali, Bart, and Ella Archibald are currently planning a volunteer trip for Yale SOM students to Krakow. This trip will be to directly distribute much needed supplies to the refugees at the Poland/Ukraine border. If you are interested in supporting this effort, we are raising funds to buy supplies for the refugees. Those who want to contribute with donations may do so through PayPalAll donations will be used for directly assisting the refugees.

The entire Yale community was very supporting since the war started and together we have managed to help hundreds of people. This has truly been a collective effort, and every day we are thinking about new ways to help the refugees and to make a positive impact on the lives of all the people going through these horrific times.


This article was originally posted on March 8, 2022, and updated on April 13 and May 13. The original post follows. 

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian refugees are crossing the border every day. The refugees are scared and desperate and need our help—and, as leaders of business and society, we believe we have the moral obligation to use our resources to help them.

The refugees face a myriad of staggering challenges: A shortage of food and gasoline near the borders has forced the Ukrainian authorities to ration gasoline purchase at nearby stations to five liters (approximately 1.3 gallons) of gas per car. The lines at the borders are so long that the refugees need to wait 40 to 60 hours to cross. The weather is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and all the people waiting in their cars are freezing because they don’t have enough gas to turn on the heat. Their credit cards have been blocked and they don’t have money to pay for food or accommodation once they cross the border. There are more than 200,000 refugees who crossed to Romania as of earlier this month, and more than 500,000 crossed to Poland. These numbers are going up every day. All these people are women, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. They had to leave their homes and head toward the unknown.

We both have ties to the region and, even though we are busy as full-time business leaders, we committed ourselves to the refugees once Ukraine was invaded. After working separately on different initiatives, we realized we could make a bigger impact if we joined forces.

Ella Archibald: I was born in Latvia but lived in Ukraine. I worked for the department of medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, and recently launched my own startup venture company, PinkBridge. Before coming to the U.S., I finished medical school in Ukraine, completed residency and worked as a dermatologist, and later, a deputy chief executive and medical director of the Ukrainian Hospital.

I started by donating money to support my former co-workers at the Ukrainian State Hospital. Then I connected with other students at Yale and other universities to raise awareness about the tragedy that Ukraine is going through.

Ali Platon: I was born and raised in Romania and relocated to the U.S. in 2017. I work as a merger and acquisition consulting manager for Moss Adams and I have more than 10 years of experience in corporate finance, including serving in regional finance director roles with officer responsibilities in an IT Corporation for the past five years.

I started a few fundraisers and created a website where people can find useful information and also make donations. All the funds collected through these channels are managed by me and sent to my sister in Romania, who is directly helping the refugees with food and accommodation. I’ve managed to raise more than $20,000 in less than a week and have started directing all of the donations toward helping people with disabilities who crossed the border.

refugees
refugees
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Some of the refugees we have helped.

Together so far, our actions have helped more than 300 people with food, accommodation, transportation, and medical supplies. After starting to work together, we decided to connect with bigger charity organizations that can us raise more money and help more people. Our goal is also to raise awareness about the suffering of Ukrainian’s citizens and to encourage more people to get involved in helping the refugees get through this. “United we can fight this war!”

Yale SOM teaches us to be leaders for business and society and to get involved and help our community. Thanks to what we learned here, we have been able to focus our efforts on getting support from more people, and we are motivated to make a change in the world. All of our MBA for Executives classmates from the classes of 2022 and 2023 have been wonderful. They’ve helped us either by making donations or sharing our mission with more people. Our classmates also asked us to participate in a Panel of Peers event this month to discuss our actions and our plans. Some classmates are trying to get us in touch with nonprofit organizations that can help us scale up our actions. One classmate helped us design T-shirts with QR codes with links to our website. And our dean, Wendy Tsung, has directed us to contacts who can support our actions. 

Although our names show up in this post, this has truly been a joint effort among our cohort, our friends, relatives, and business connections.

Give at romanianshelp.com.