The barbaric assault of Russia’s army on Ukraine has left millions with critical existential needs: money to buy food, potable water and medicine, means to make their way to safety. Many in Ukraine live tightly: salary to salary. Most have no access to credit. On 24 February many businesses halted work, leaving many without an income.
International aid organisations have been excruciatingly slow, logistically turgid, tangled in red tape. They have produced slick PR videos, but their aid is not reaching people in Ukraine. Neither Red Cross nor UNICEF are getting through, nor are most international NGOs. The Russian army aren’t letting them through or they are simply stuck logistically. Truckloads of aid are piling up at the Poland-Ukraine border and ins storehouses in Lviv. Every day I speak to people and volunteer organisations in Kyiv, Kherson and Kharkiv, who report that aid is still to arrive. It will arrive, and hopefully soon. For now, people need direct, instant
I was born in Odessa, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teach at King’s College London. I live between Cambridge and Odessa and have now paused my professional work to coordinate the delivery of pointed, direct, instant aid to people who need it most. Engaging my extensive networks across Ukraine, I send money directly to the bank accounts of carefully verified individuals, volunteers and volunteer groups, to medics, and territorial defence volunteers, to supply money for stores of food, basic equipment, means to evacuate, medicine for the wounded and those otherwise in critical need.
Ukrainian bank systems are operational, ATMs are working, and supermarkets and pharmacies accept cards. Ukraine has halted its export of essential foodstuffs and medicine, so the supplies are still there to buy.
The experience of recent weeks convinced me that direct deposit is by far the best help we can give. Not only can people buy exactly what they need at the best local prices, but it also keeps the economy going. Local suppliers keep selling, shops stay open, delivery keeps working, people get paid for work.
After carefully checking the legitimacy and urgency of the request – via brief video calls with donees – I transfer money, via Paysend and Wise directly to people's accounts in local currency. Each transfer takes only seconds. Individuals/couples receive $80, families $150, and families with 3 or more children $210; volunteer groups receive between $350 and $500, depending on the scale and urgency of their operations. I give only to carefully, personally checked organisations.
Money goes directly – and with no overheads! – to support the most urgent of needs: baby formula, water and nappies for shelters in Kharkiv, food and medicine for families in Kyiv, power banks for territorial defence volunteers in Nikolaev, medicine for hospitals in Odessa, where the wounded are now flooding in (while the Red Cross is still working out the logistics).
If you wish to have your money spent on something particular (whether on families with children, refugees, medicine, volunteers for the elderly etc), just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can normally accommodate requests.
I regularly post pictures, receipts and videos sent to me by donees on Facebook..