Support for Ukrainian refugees is witnessed throughout New York City, from signs of solidarity to monetary means and several relief efforts. Humanitarian groups such as Tour for Tolerance, Council of Peoples’ Organization (COPO) and many others are teaming up to bring support to Ukrainians in need.
The collaboration between these groups will bring donation supplies to Ukraine via the Poland border, with items ranging from walkers to grooming products and diapers. The donation items are collected by the organizations and stored at COPO’s headquarters on Coney Island Ave. in Brooklyn. At some point this week, COPO plans to ship hundreds of packages by air and sea to reach the relief organizations in Poland that are assisting Ukrainian refugees.
“We are trying to get as much as we can and as quick as we can,” said Mohammed Razvi, the CEO of COPO. “There’s a whole group of organizations helping out, including synagogues that are in touch with us.”
Razvi has the COPO office acting as a warehouse space to store donation supplies and described the plethora of donated goods coming through.
“I have basically two trailers worth of goods in the back,” said Razvi, who had to fill a large portion of the items in the backyard of the property.
Bill Tingling, the founder and CEO of Tour for Tolerance, spoke to the Amsterdam News about the efforts to assist Ukrainians.
“The collaborative efforts, though we are working together as one, is really wonderful seeing all of these New Yorkers are getting together, working on behalf of people in Ukraine,” said Tingling, who also serves as the Goodwill Ambassador to Ukraine.
Last October, Tingling held a “tolerance mission” in Ukraine to show his support for the construction of a Holocaust Museum at a local park in the city of Odessa. He describes this mission as somewhat humbling, standing where Holocaust victims stood during the Second World War.
“Gathering all these supplies and what’s needed—it is my job, it is my merit and it’s the right thing to do,” said Tingling. “I am now an instrument, a person putting something together for people who are bereaved.”
The Holocaust Remembrance Association is another group that teamed up with COPO and Tour for Tolerance. Samuel Bykov is a member of this organization and is a Holocaust survivor from Ukraine. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced in February, Bill Tingling and Bykov got in contact with each other and started talking about what they could both do to help.
“In this case we decided, our board of directors and Bill, to help Ukraine and maintain health,” said Bykov. “In terms of maintaining health, we started to collect medical items and prepared to send one container to Ukraine, and found a place in Poland to deliver these items. We’re sending anything necessary for the military as well.”
Bykov mentioned that the association has plans to open a center for humanitarian health with telephone lines that will connect to the Ukrainian government and the Red Cross in Ukraine.
As a Holocaust survivor, Bykov felt the need to express his sentiment about the attacks on the nation, comparing them to the genocide seen during the Holocaust.
“Unfortunately, this is happening today, and they need to be brought to trial,” said Bykov, referring to the Russian regime.
As footage of Black Ukrainians trying to flee spread across the media, organizations such as The State of African Diaspora (SOAD) have stepped in to assist Africans fleeing the nation.
“Getting the messages and seeing the images made it very clear that African students needed support because there were no support systems there for their evacuation,” said Sharon Parris-Chambers, an ambassador for SOAD, based in the organization’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Parris-Chambers recalled talking to an African student who claimed they were in need of food and internet access alongside the dilemma of losing important documents they were traveling with. She claimed that organizations such as the Ghana Students Association in Hungary and International Organization for Migration are assisting some Africans with needed resources.
“Because we are now intervening with them and monitoring them, we ask them that they make sure they pass on information about trafficking of persons,” said Parris-Chambers, who claimed that the IOM reported an increase of human trafficking from Ukraine. “We were concerned about that, and their relocation.”
Parris-Chambers reports that some were able to relocate to Germany, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria. She advised for anyone seeking support from SOAD, contact their emergency response system email at email@example.com.