In a concise and moving portrait of the history of Ukrainian independence in The Atlantic last week, writer Anne Applebaum laid out what’s at stake in the battle raging there against Russian invaders. It is—given the tragic events of the last week—a rousing account of a people who have one simple but inalienable desire: self-governance.
It is precisely that which Vladimir Putin seeks to destroy—and that which Ukrainian citizens, civilians and soldiers alike, are fighting for in their streets.
But as Appelbaum notes, this is not just about Ukraine. For those who love democracy, who believe in its values for all of humanity, it is also about us:
At this moment in history, something unusual is happening there. Among those 40 million, a significant number—at all levels of society, all across the country, in every field of endeavor—aspire to create a fairer, freer, more prosperous country than any they have inhabited in the past. Among them are people willing to dedicate their lives to fighting corruption, to deepening democracy, to remain sovereign and free. Some of those people are willing to die for these ideas.
The clash that is coming will matter to all of us, in ways that we can’t yet fathom. In the centuries-long struggle between autocracy and democracy, between dictatorship and freedom, Ukraine is now the front line—and our front line too.
For many, particularly the approximately 67,000 people of Ukrainian descent who live in the Philadelphia area, the distant fight is top of mind these days—and it does not feel distant at all.
Looking for ways to help Ukraine? Look ahead for easy ways to support refugees and donate to causes working to save children and provide proper medical care to those affected by the brutal attacks.
HOW TO HELP UKRAINE RIGHT NOW
Donate to Ukrainian humanitarian aid
Nova Ukraine, a seven-year-old nonprofit has spent more than $400,000 in humanitarian aid to Ukraine in a wide range of areas, from medical equipment to help wounded soldiers to buying graduation outfits for children living in orphanages across the country. In the last week, it has raised over $900,000 towards a $1 million goal to help those in need as a result of the Russian invasion. Donate here.
UNICEF is seeking funding in the amount of $66.4 million to provide Ukrainians with access to basic services including water and sanitation, immunization and health care, schooling and learning, psychosocial support, and emergency cash assistance for up to 7.5 million children. You can donate here.
Support independent English-language journalism
Subscribe or donate to The Kyiv Independent, a trusted source for news from the country’s capital. As it is everywhere, reliable, fair and independent local news is fundamental to fighting disinformation and ensuring people everywhere know what is really happening on the ground.
Learn the history of Ukrainian-Russian relations
There’s a lot to unpack in the history of Ukrainian-Russian relations. Take some time to understand what’s really happening. Check out the Council on Foreign Relations’ explainer. This article from the Kyiv Post debunks the 10 most popular misconceptions about Ukraine. And take some time to listen to this in-depth guide to the history of Ukraine, PRIALIA Podcast.
Help supply Ukrainian hospitals
A crowdfunding campaign through international aid organization Project C.U.R.E. aims to raise $500,000 to send 20 40-foot containers containing medical equipment and supplies to hospitals in Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv and other areas in need right now. They have already raised $300,000, any money raised over the goal will go into more aid.
Rally for Ukraine
The Ukrainian community in Philadelphia has come together a few times already to raise awareness and demand support for the efforts to stop Putin—including Friday at City Hall and Sunday at Independence Hall. Follow @ukr_phl_people on Instagram for Ukraine-related events in the city, including future rallies (and also cultural events).
Upwards of 1 million Ukrainians have fled their homes throughout the country in the last several days, including tens of thousands who have crossed the border into Europe.
Fund frontline medical care
International non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders pulled out of Ukraine last week because of rapidly escalating danger. But the need for frontline medical care grows with each passing day. Hospitallers supports the work of volunteer paramedics who have remained behind to care for soldiers and civilians injured in the battles.
Help the children of Ukraine
Voices of War launched in 2015 to help evacuate children and families affected by aggressions in the east of Ukraine. Now the group provides psychological and psychosocial support to children to help them overcome the trauma of war.
Support Ukrainian refugees
Upwards of 1 million Ukrainians have fled their homes throughout the country in the last several days, including tens of thousands who have crossed the border into Europe—and the United Nations predicts there could be as many as 5 million displaced people as a result of the war. Crimea SOS has been working since 2015—when Russia annexed the southern region—to support internally displaced Ukrainians, and is raising funds to continue that work on a larger scale.
The International Rescue Committee, which works with refugees throughout the world, has launched an emergency Ukraine effort. And HIAS—the same organization that helps refugees in Philadelphia—is also working to help settle Ukrainians who have fled across the border to Poland, often leaving most everything behind.
Support Ukrainian Organizations in Philadelphia
There are several Ukrainian community organizations here in Philadelphia that celebrate Ukrainian culture and customs. Many are hosting events and donation drives to support war relief efforts. The Ukrainian American Citizens Association, also known as UACA or the Ukie Club on Franklin, has been aiding Ukrainian causes and assisting refugees for 110 years. The Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, founded in 1927, has a Facebook page where you can see their upcoming events. The Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown has posted donation items needed and drop-off times, a vetted donation resource, and upcoming rallies and fundraisers on its website. The United Ukrainian Relief Committee is collecting donations both monetary and material, with the list of needed supplies is posted on their home page.
Support Ukrainians on the ground
Ukrainian citizens have abandoned their homes and businesses in the face of an invasion and joined the fight to defend their country. Aid Legion, established by a coalition of Ukrainian business people, is working for Ukrainians on the ground with the resources of a large operation and the connections and speed of a small local aid organization. They are currently taking donations to supply volunteers with body armor and helmets, and essential equipment and supplies for field hospitals. You can watch a video about their operation here.
Advocate for better protection for Ukraine
Razom offers this script for writing to Congress to ensure they are using the full power of their office to take a strong stand against Russian aggression. This should be a no-brainer; but as we saw last week, Pres. Trump’s support of Putin has caused some indecision in his Republican Party.
Vote to uphold democracy at home
As Applebaum noted, the attack on Ukraine is an attack on democracy. We are experiencing our own internal attacks on democracy, from the lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, to the voter restriction laws enacted around the country—and proposed here in Pennsylvania. Make a point to cast your ballot for senator and governor in the May primary and again in November. If for no other reason, vote to make the point that democracy matters.
Looking for more ways to help Ukraine?
Razom for Ukraine, a group of Ukrainian-Americans working with Ukrainians on the ground, has carefully vetted this list of ways to contribute to the fight and support those who are suffering as a result of it.
Header photo by Roxanne Patel Shepelavy