Austinites launch website to help Ukrainian refugees while vacationing in Poland
AUSTIN, TEXAS (KXAN) — A trip that started as a vacation for two Northwest Austin residents has now become a mission to help Ukrainian refugees.
Alexander Prokopyev and Jerry Lai are neighbors. For Jerry’s 40th birthday, the two decided to fly to Poland for a mountain retreat.
The day after Alex and Jerry arrived in Poland, Russia invaded Ukraine.
Alexander, originally from Ukraine, could not sit and watch the destruction unfold in his home country.
“We were going through many online forums. We quickly realized that it was a bit disorganized,” says Jerry Lai. “There are a lot of pages and for someone offering help, they can easily get lost in the comment pages.”
Alexander is a software engineer and Jerry runs a payment processing company called Quantum Electronic Payments. The two used their technical skills to launch a centralized refugee aid website.
“The website is able to collect volunteers with the services they are able to offer, such as transportation and temporary accommodation, possible medical services in the future,” Lai said.
The site offers volunteers the opportunity to provide accommodation or transportation.
As the website accumulates resources, Jerry and Alex are boots on the ground in Warsaw connecting with volunteers and refugees.
Quantum Electronic Payments plans to match donations of $100,000. Eventually, the site will offer people the opportunity to donate.
Everfree, a nonprofit that expedites the release of survivors of human trafficking around the world, is also helping with the Ukrainian refugee relief effort at the site.