Community shows solidarity with Ukraine


Graphic by Haydee Barahona/ The Runner using an image provided by Pastor Frazier

Haydee Barahona, Social Media Manager

Ukraine continues to receive support from its’ neighboring countries since Russia’s invasion in February. 

Ukraine is facing one of the most rapid growing refugee crises. As of March 15, 2022, about 3 million people have fled the country since Russia invaded. Other European countries have opened their borders and are accepting Ukrainian refugees.  

“There’s just so much solidarity among people right now which I feel like it’s just brought Europe, my country included, together just to help people in need,” says Hana Makonova, an international student athlete at CSU Bakersfield, in an interview. 

Makonova is a volleyball player and engineering major from the Czech Republic. She describes some of the ways that her community has helped civilians during this time. 

“You can donate money, you can donate food, you can donate clothes. People are driving to Slovakian, Ukraine borders, and driving women and kids back to camps for them and offering housing,” says Makonova. 

The Czech Republic is apart of the European Union, an economic and political union between 27 European countries. 

According to the European Commission, an official website of the European Union, “on 4 March, the EU agreed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.” These temporary protections include residency rights, social welfare, medical assistance, and access to housing.  

Children and teenagers who arrive unaccompanied will also be entitled to legal guardianship and access to education.  

“There’s been a lot of cases where schools are welcoming the new Ukraine students,” says Makonova. “I’ve heard about beach volleyball players, which has offered housing and helped trained beach volleyball from Ukraine. So there’s just so many of these little things, in sports and everyday life, people just come and help. 

The number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to neighboring countries is expected to reach 4 million.  

“Some of the people coming, they’re holding temporarily and they’re transferring them to families west, in Europe and even in the United States of America. But for the large majority of them, they have nowhere to go, so they’re basically just sustaining them,” says Angelo Frazier, Pastor for Riverlakes Community Church, in an interview. 

Frazier organized a vigil at Liberty Bell in support of the Ukrainian people. He says that he was drawn to the conflict in Ukraine, having previously lived in Europe and being a crisis counselor.  

Most refugees, about 1.8 million people, have fled to Poland. According to a news reporter from National Public Radio, Becky Sullivan, in a March 16 news story, this number matches the population of Poland’s capital, Warsaw. 

However, some services are reaching capacity, even in larger cities like Warsaw and Krakow.  

According to a March 11 story by Patrick Donahue, Konrad Krakuski, and Kitty Donaldson, Warsaw has already filled three event venues in the last week, “forcing volunteers to direct arrivals to Poland’s largest exhibition center, which is 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the center. 

Officials of the EU are currently offering transportation for refugees to seek shelter in other member countries. 

While Makonova says that welcoming refugees is a great thing and everybody is ready to help, she also thinks that this is going to step back over time. 

Hana Makonova  International student athlete
Hana Makonova
International student athlete

“I just hope that people will still be helping until that settles,” says Makonova. 

EU border states are also experiencing a scarcity in other resources, such as utensils, flip flops, and duvets.  

According to Frazier, individuals can send money to crisis organizations, that will purchase supplies in Europe and provide them to those affected. Frazier recommends contacting organizations such as City Serve, the American Red Cross, and Samaritan’s Purse 

“You need everything from hearing aids, you need clothes, some of the people that I’ve heard stories from, they’ve lost all their clothes, so the only clothes they’ve had for two weeks. The women need feminine care products,” along with toiletries and medicine, says Frazier. “You need everything when you don’t have anything.”