A charity project to help Belarusians who suffered from repression has now become a project to help Ukrainians who suffered from war.
In 2020, Philip Hauryshau and his friends launched the INeedHelpBY food assistance initiative. Hauryshau is originally from Homel but has lived in the US for the past 11 years. The project’s objective is to provide targeted food aid to the families of Belarusian political prisoners and other Belarusians subjected to repression. Upon submission of an application on the initiative’s website, the organizers connect applicants with helpers in the US and other countries. The helpers then purchase food and essential goods in Belarusian online supermarkets and have them delivered to the applicants. It wasn’t difficult to implement since online delivery is ubiquitous in Belarus.
After the war began, the organizers adapted the project to the needs of Ukraine and called it INeedHelpUA. Since deliveries to Ukraine are challenging these days, the volunteers started collecting donations to buy food in Poland or Slovakia. The food is then stored in a Warsaw bar warehouse, whose owners are from Kharkiv. They also ensure food delivery 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 project’s co-organizers to help fill empty warehouses with food.