Czech volunteers create centralized website to help Ukraine at war
When wars or humanitarian disasters suddenly strike, people are often eager to offer support to those who have been affected. However, it can be difficult to navigate the wide and often uncoordinated range of NGOs and websites that offer various ways to participate.
To prevent this problem from occurring during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Česko.Digital initiative, in cooperation with several NGOs and volunteer groups, created stojimezaukrajinou.cz, a website that aims to provide a platform central to anyone wishing to donate or otherwise help Ukrainians in their fight against the Russian invaders. Martina Hábová, Marketing Manager of Česko.Digital, explains:
“We wanted to offer all Czechs willing to help a unified platform where they can access all different forms of support. At the same time, we wanted these forms of support, whether through NGO projects, forms of direct aid to the Ukrainian army, or housing options for refugees, to be verified. Indeed, people are of course afraid to send money where it may not be used for the purpose intended. So that was also our goal: to bring together a wide range of verified contacts.
She says there were originally several projects on how to create such a website in parallel. However, the rapidity of events in Ukraine, after Russia invaded the country on Thursday morning, led everyone to interconnect and create a unified website within 48 hours. To achieve this goal, more than 150 volunteers coordinated through platforms such as slack and Google docs over a single weekend, often working late into the night, says Hábová.
“The speed, the extraordinary contribution and the wide response, both within the company and among the volunteers, are impressive. Many come to us and want to join in the help. People working in competing companies come together to create a unified pro bono project. Everyone is very proactive, helpful and hard working. It is an unforgettable experience to be part of it.
The result is a website that offers information, as well as direct access to relevant websites, both for those who offer and for those who need help. Forms of support include direct financial aid, legal aid for refugees, emergency housing, transport and psychological helplines for people in shock. There is also a special marketplace on the platform where individuals can directly offer or select offers for help. The website can be viewed in Czech and Ukrainian.
Ms. Hábová says the website is largely complete, but could still be fine-tuned in the future.
“The main goal of our collaboration with We Support Ukraine (Stojíme za Ukrajinou) was to create this website. Now we need to get it working and up to date. We’re going to focus on that this week. Normally our work focuses on creating systems and then handing them over to a custodian. In previous projects this has been the case and we are looking to continue this tradition with respect to the current project.
“We are also discussing the possibility of adding maps to the website. However, this is only in its infancy at the moment.
Stojimezaukrajinou.cz is already the fourth web project of the Česko.Digital initiative in recent years. Previous projects included Učíme online, an online system that could organize webinars and offer technological support to schools closed during the coronavirus pandemic, or the government’s Covid Portal website.