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Every day I wake up to news of war’s worsening tragedy, and each night I fall asleep with visions of a terrified Ukrainian population, fighting for their country and their children’s survival.
But last night was different – the news showed me uplifting images that renewed my hope in humanity.
I decided then that I would try to find positive examples of how the world community is stepping up to support the beleaguered people of Ukraine. With just a little looking, I found four wonderful examples.
First, the CEO of Airbnb asked the people of Poland, Germany, Romania, and Hungary to open their homes to Ukrainians crossing the border. The company said this housing will be funded by Airbnb Inc., donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, and through the generosity of hosts throughout Airbnb.org. Airbnb.org and Airbnb announced that they will offer free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. They are also committed to working closely with governments to best support the specific needs in each country, which will include providing longer-term stays. Go here to help.
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This kind of altruistic commitment to the well-being of humanity exemplifies the Baha’i spirit. In Paris more than a century ago, Abdu’l-Baha said:
This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.
Second, the global nonprofit “World Central Kitchen,” founded by Chef José Andrés, rallied quickly in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At a pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland, they serve hot meals 24 hours a day. These efforts have grown to serve locations at multiple border crossings as well as local restaurants, preparing meals for residents in Odessa and Lviv in Ukraine. Andrés expressed his concerns:
“People of the world … Like you, I am distraught watching Ukraine under attack. We must come together as a force for good!” the Spanish-American chef wrote on Twitter Friday. In a follow-up video Andrés said: “Guys, there’s many ways to fight. Some people fight by making sure that people are fed.” (See here)
Third, one grassroots fundraising group, “Gather for Good,” put together a giant bake sale at restaurants and bakeries with participants from the communities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, California. Bakers and chefs sell a variety of treats with all the proceeds benefitting Ukraine. One of the founders of “Gather for Good,” Steph Chen, wanted to make a difference:
“There’s definitely a collective feeling of heaviness and dread,” said Chen. “I feel like I open up the news or see different outlets that I follow on social media and it’s getting worse and worse and worse, and it’s pretty difficult to feel like you need to just sit on the side.” (See here)
Since we are all one human family, Baha’u’llah wrote:
An act, however infinitesimal, is, when viewed in the mirror of the knowledge of God, mightier than a mountain. Every drop proffered in His path is as the sea in that mirror.
And fourth, the Germans and many other European nationalities have stepped up to help, in droves. It’s heartening for me to focus on our common humanity at this time, and all those who are helping, not harming, at this precarious period in our history.
Something that especially inspired me was a video of weary Ukrainians exiting a train in Germany. Railway operator Deutsche Bahn allows the refugees free travel. When the Ukrainians arrive they are greeted with townspeople holding signs, offering accommodations in their homes as an alternative to state shelters. Even in the midst of a world pandemic, these altruistic individuals forgo their comfort and safety for a population they have never laid eyes on.
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Paulin Nusser, a 26-year-old student living in a shared flat holds up a sign offering his couch for a few nights: “You feel sort of helpless, so I wanted to at least help someone to get a few nights good sleep,” Nusser said.
The Germans have also set up a welcome center with volunteers serving hot food. Clothes, shoes, and strollers are available, along with toys for the children. Volunteers speaking different languages are accessible to help orient those in need, (see here). These are just a few examples of how the noble, compassionate, and benevolent people of the world are reacting to this crisis that, whether we realize it or not, affects us all. We have a long way to go, but each one of us can play a part in the process of helping other members of the human family and, in the process, ultimately uniting our planet. What part will you play?
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