3 stories of how strangers are helping Ukrainian refugees

Refugees from Ukraine enter Poland at the Medyka border crossing. © UNHCR/Chris Melzer

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February.
  • Strangers are supporting the refugees with offers of food and shelter.
  • Here are just some of the stories of humanitarian aid.

Alongside the horror and despair of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there are stories of hope and humanity, as strangers are stepping up to help refugees.

More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine in the 7 days since the start of the Russian invasion. More than half of those – mainly women and children – have been arriving in Poland with nowhere to stay and nothing to eat.

Here are just a few of the stories of simple humanitarian support for Ukraine.

Where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to.
As of 3 March, more than half of the 1 million Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Poland. Image: Statista

1. German man and his daughter pick up family in Poland

“We have watched what’s happening, we have seen the pictures on TV, my daughter and me. And we said, this is so horrible, we want to make a small contribution, however small it may be. But we believe it could make a difference.”

This is what Karsten told reporters on the Polish-Ukrainian border, after he and his daughter drove more than 1,000km from Germany with donations of food and supplies.

They held up a sign offering transport back to Germany and accommodation – and within an hour, were heading off on the 11-hour return trip with Bulia Muhammad and her children.

“It’s our country where we lived, it’s a pity to leave your home land. Home is always home, you always want to be at home,” said Muhammad.

2. Spanish-American chef leads team cooking for Ukraine

Spanish-American chef José Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit which travels the globe to provide meals after natural disasters.

He’s currently on the ground in Poland helping to feed the refugees arriving from Ukraine, while World Central Kitchen CEO and filmmaker Nate Mook is working with his team in Ukraine.

José Andrés has been tweeting about World Central Kitchen’s efforts in Ukraine and Poland. Image: Twitter

3. Ukrainian woman takes stranger’s children across the border

Nataliya Ableyeva took a young son and daughter across the border to meet their mother in Hungary, because their father was not allowed to leave with them.

Ableyeva had promised the children’s father she would look after them, while they were waiting on the border in Ukraine.

The children’s mother, Anna Semyuk, was on her way from Italy to meet them and when she arrived in Hungary, the two women embraced and cried together.

How you can help

Donations to organizations such as the ICRC and the International Rescue Committee will pay for urgent supplies, including blankets and cooking stoves.

The UNHCR says that fundraising for displaced families by organizing events through work or at school is a way to take positive action and bring people together to help during the crisis.

It also warns about sharing misinformation online about the situation in Ukraine, suggesting using accredited sources including the BBC and the World Economic Forum. If you’re unsure of whether a news source is accredited, it suggests checking here.

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