During the global pandemic, I couldn’t imagine life getting more challenging or for there to be more misery in the world. Loss of life at epic proportions with grief to match was as tough as it could get. I was wrong. As long as there is evil in people’s hearts, things can always get worse for the innocent and those that can easily be preyed upon.
I should be talking about spring; about the lovely season of re-birth. I should be talking about lighter foods and cooking styles. I should be waxing poetic about asparagus and blood oranges, delicate sprouts and greens. I should be talking about the romance of the season and how we turn our faces to the sun. I should be losing myself in staring at the buds on the trees; my tulips pushing up through the wet soil.
But I’m not. You guessed it. I’m going to talk about Ukraine, but not from the perspective you might imagine. I won’t give Russia’s president the attention he craves, like oxygen. Instead, I would like to talk about the kindness we are seeing all over the world. I’d like to talk about how people have stepped up to help the Ukrainians who have been forced to flee for their lives. And face years of trying to re-build even when the war ends.
We live in cynical times so when a corporation’s CEO steps up and writes that he will house up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in Airbnb locations, we are inspired. And that’s just what Brian Chesky has done. I’ll always use Airbnb for my travel where it works.
And then there’s just people, like all of us, renting Airbnb apartments in Ukraine, with no intent to travel there, just to get money in the hands of people who need it. Airbnb is waving fees so as not to profit from this crisis and the hosts themselves are passing the money to those who need it most.
Over the course of two days, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company donated 100% of its sales to the nonprofit World Help, which is working with Ukrainian organizations to provide food and water to refugees. Baker Creek raised $1.6 million in those days.
The San Francisco-based expert-on-demand company JustAnswer, which has about a quarter of its workforce in Ukraine, set up a crisis fund, which will go toward the Ukrainian armed forces and refugees, with donations facilitated by the Ukrainian charity Lviv ІТ Cluster. JustAnswer raised over $50,000 in under 24 hours, and CEO Andy Kurtzig says the company is also matching the first $50,000 raised by JustAnswer employees and experts.
Ashton Kucher and Mila Kunis have raised more than 35 million dollars to help refugees. https://www.gofundme.com/f/stand-with-ukraine Other celebrities have donated and matched what is raised, all to come to the aid of people who didn’t ask for this terror to take over their lives. They lived in relative peace and lived their lives. Until now.
American veterans are heading to Ukraine to aid people trying to flee to safety. Some are ready to fight for the Ukrainian people if the need arises.
Non-profits like Mercy Chefs are cooking and donating thousands of meals every day on the Ukrainian border.
There’s everyone’s chef hero, Jose Andres, on the front lines with his World Kitchen https://wck.org/, feeding as many people as they can; thousands of fresh meals daily to those fleeing Ukraine and those who stay behind and have need of food. This chef has shown us what compassion in action looks like, finding himself in the thick of conflict, natural disasters and social unrest, doing what he does best…nourishing others.
Finally, there’s the man of the decade, if not the century, President Zelensky who has shown us unwavering love of his people and his country’s rights. He has not run to a bunker or evacuated to a secure location. He has stood with his people, fighting for their home.
In the darkness that has descended on this small country that many of us never really thought about, we have seen the worst of war crimes; the worst of human cruelty. We have seen pure evil, bombing hospitals and children’s homes; schools and shelters; killing civilians to make a tyrannical point, but we have also seen the best of humanity come together in love to aid the innocent and help the terrified people forced to flee the lives they know and love.
In the darkness, we can always find hope. And hope, like love, is everything.