You’ve been traveling for days

You’ve been traveling for days

Sometimes by train or bus, but sometimes you’re walking. Every day, sunrise to sunset, you’re traveling with your three young children–ages 7, 4, and 3. 

They’re being brave and strong, like you’ve asked, but they’re scared and so are you. 

“Are we almost there?” they ask.

“Just a little further, moyi malenʹki,” you tell them.

You’ve already passed dozens of cities. Many of them are in ruins, or they’re empty shells of the cities you remember… not like they were before.

Your city and home for the past decade has been attacked, and the apartment building is no longer safe.

And the decisions you’ve had to make recently are harder. Much harder. 

Image: Anzhela Bets
Ultimately, you decided that the safest option was to leave Ukraine, to gather whatever you could carry…
 Image: Honor Kent

A week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, the money you had on-hand, birth certificates, a few photos…

And journey westward to Europe.

Though you’re going somewhere hundreds of miles away, to a place where they speak a different language, you’ve heard that there are warm beds and free meals there.

Most importantly, your young children, your precious dityshche, will be able to go to school and play safely without the risk of war.

But you can’t help wondering…

What will I do when I get there? 
Will I be able to feed my children? 
Will anyone speak Russian or Ukrainian? I only know a few words of Polish…
Will I know who to trust?

This narrative is just an example of the many issues facing the 15 million Ukrainian refugees right now. Nearly 90% of the refugees are women and children, and the risk of exploitation is high.

There have been reports of women being offered rides in return for sexual favors or being offered homes in exchange for free work. 

Image: Ethical Trade Co

Thankfully, there are organizations like the Red Cross and UNICEF or homegrown Polish groups like “Women Take the Wheel” that are working to connect with new people that cross the border before they can be exploited.

But what about those who didn’t leave Ukraine? 

There are an estimated 5.4 million internally displaced people within Ukraine and 58% of those have been displaced for 6 months or more. They have lost homes, jobs, loved ones. 

It is imperative that during this conflict we support the Ukrainian economy. 

Supporting the Ukrainian economy helps keep more people out of poverty and reduces their risk of exploitation.

This is why we are supporting Ukraine through our partner, Creating Comfort Lab, who brings handmade Ukrainian goods to our structural, busy world. 

Their stoneware uses organic materials and traditional, almost-forgotten techniques like milk firing to create one-of-a-kind art pieces.

More than that, Creating Comfort Labs runs a number of workshops across western and central Ukraine. They also donate a portion of their proceeds to refugee projects within Ukraine.

We need to stand with Ukraine long-term, and our commitment is through partnerships like this. 

What will your commitment be?

How will you stand with Ukraine this year and beyond? 

 Remember, even small actions make a big difference.

For example, instead of buying plates and mugs from Target or Pottery Barn this season, consider purchasing some of the handmade goods from Creating Comfort Labs.

Not only will these gifts last a generation, but they will also generate sustainable income and jobs in a country that needs both.



Data Sources: IOM, ILO, PBS


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