Tech leaders in Northern Virginia are playing an important role in helping hundreds of Ukrainian refugees resettle in Europe.
Yulia Yaani, who was born in Russia but has lived in the US for 25 years, said she wasn’t the volunteering type until she watched what was happening to the people of Ukraine.
“I think what drives me is the sense of huge injustice to just normal people like me,” she said.
A mother of two boys and a successful tech entrepreneur, she brainstormed with other tech executives in Northern Virginia and abroad. They learned Denmark was promising to accept, house and provide social services for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
“So why don’t we just focus on bringing people from the border to Denmark, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Yaani said.
They partnered with a Danish couple and began paying for a once-a-week bus trip for refugees, transporting them from the border of Poland to three locations in Denmark.
Yaani joined the refugees on the 26-hour drive last month.
“It was a heartbreaking experience,” she said. “My eyes are watering even thinking about this.”
She met Hanna Beichuk, one of the first Ukrainian refugees to accept a ride to Denmark who now volunteers to help others make the trip.
“Danish people are so friendly and welcoming,” Beichuk said. “They give us a sense of security and safety, what is very important for all of us right now.”
UkrainianHelpHub.com was created to generate funding and has helped more than 500 refugees get to Denmark, but they hope to keep raising money so they can enable 5,000 to make it to their temporary safe haven.
“I do think that all of them want to come back, and we all together can rebuild our country,” Beichuk said.
Ukrainian Help Hub has raised more than $150,000 and plans to keep fundraising to pay for more buses.