Lifestyle & Culture

Answering Ukraine’s Cry for Help

March 1, 2022


The Scream 1895/Edvard Munch

By Nancy McKeon

EVERY YEAR I send money (not a ton, but at least three digits) to José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen. He’s a chef I knew slightly in DC, and his small effort — begun a little over a decade ago to feed people in Haiti after an earthquake (the 2010 one) — has blossomed.

The short story of how he and his wife, Patricia, began their program is inspiring in its simplicity:

WCK folks are often on the ground with their mobile kitchens and local chefs even before other relief agencies move their butts—Galveston, New Orleans, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (no, no tossing of paper towels!), Beirut after the giant blast, Kentucky after brutal tornadoes, Texas with asylum seekers.

Now his teams are taking care of feeding Ukrainian refugees streaming across the border into Poland.

I’ll still send WCK some money—and I’ll renew my donations to Doctors Without Borders, as my friend Madeleine, a sustaining donor, recommends.

But helping the Ukrainian army may be more important in making sure that those Ukrainians have a Ukraine to return to.

A Georgetown Dish post lists a Ukrainian bank effort, and then links to a Washington Post piece listing other ways to help. (I prefer smaller, direct-aid organizations, but given the ad hoc nature of these efforts, it may not be possible to check out their efficiency on, normally a recommended procedure.) The Today show also delivered suggestions. Now the ball is in our (nice, safe) court.

My friend Barbara, moved by the reports she was seeing on TV news, just sent money to the UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees. But then she worried that the money wouldn’t get to Ukraine directly. That may be true, but it’s also true that, as UNHCR reports,  there were some 82.4 million people who had been forcibly displaced from their home countries by the end of 2020, whether by war or other violence. We in the West feel an intuitive sympathy for Ukrainian refugees, possibly seeing ourselves, perhaps our grandparents or great-grandparents, in them. The “other” refugees, often turned away at borders now welcoming Ukrainians, need help as well.

Whether the subject is Ukraine or any of the globe’s other hotspots, this certainly seems to be a time when anything we can do, or send, is better than nothing.

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