The storage room of the project in Warsaw. Photo: INeedHelpUA.

A charity project to help Belarusians who suffered from repressions has now become a project to help Ukrainians who suffered from war.

In 2020, Philip Hauryshau and his friends organized the INeedHelpBY food assistance project. Hauryshau is originally from Homel, but has lived in the US for the past 11 years. The key idea of the initiative was to provide targeted food aid to the families of Belarusian political prisoners and other Belarusians who had been subjected to repressions. After submitting an application on the initiative’s website, the organizers connected applicants with helpers from the US and other countries, who remotely bought the necessary products in online hypermarkets. It wasn’t difficult to implement since online delivery is ubiquitous in Belarus.

After the war began, the organizers adapted the project for the needs of Ukraine and called it INeedHelpUA. Since deliveries to Ukraine are quite difficult now, the volunteers began to collect donations, with which they buy food in Poland or Slovakia. The food is then stored in a warehouse in a Warsaw bar, whose owners are from Kharkiv. They also ensure the delivery of food to the hardest hit cities in Ukraine.

Products purchased in Slovakia are sent to Uzhhorod. This city received many refugees from eastern Ukraine, and representatives of the city council personally asked one of the co-organizers to help fill the empty warehouses with food.