Driving in the warzone
How do we help Ukrainians
From making financial contributions to various charities and donating much-needed resources, to buying a spacious van and driving people flying from the attacked places to the Polish border, Team Huuuge has been very active in helping people affected by the war in Ukraine.
We stand in support of peace and are deeply affected by the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, which is home to many of our employees and their close ones. This prompted us to take any necessary actions in ensuring that our Ukrainian staff, partners, and their respective families are safe. Those affected were immediately assisted and relocated. We also donated 1 Million PLN to charitable causes helping the victims of the war in Ukraine. The funds are used to provide humanitarian aid to anyone in need.
Despite the heartbreaking and difficult times we are constantly amazed and uplifted by the spirit of our employees. They all rushed to help and are constantly involved in giving assistance to and comforting refugees and even those who decided to stay in Ukraine. We could not have been more proud of their dedication, and thus want to pay respect to them by highlighting their actions in the hope it will also inspire more goodwill.
The humanitarian convoy, which saved over 20 000 Ukrainians
Mieczysław Rybak is our Technical Project Manager who together with the IT department keeps our engines running smoothly and our data stored safely. The invasion in Ukraine, like many others of us, affected him on a personal level — during the outbreak of the war his Ukrainian fiancé was staying in Odesa and soon found herself unable to leave the country. Mieczysław, without hesitation, got behind the wheel and drove nearly 400 km from Warsaw to Lviv to pick her up. There he understood how difficult it is for refugees to safely and quickly escape from the fastly overwhelmed Russian forces in Ukraine — some of them had no necessary paperwork done, some had no money or means to get out, some simply were confused and too overwhelmed by the horrors of war to do anything.
‘There are many communication and logistic issues which Ukrainians are facing on top of personally suffering from the bloodshed. After spending my time there, I realized that it was more important to get people to the border than to “waste” time in traffic to check in’, said Mieczysław.
After harmlessly returning from Lviv with his beloved, Mieczysław shared his story on Huuuge’s internal channel, which led to a discussion culminating in launching a new cause — raising money to buy a van to convey necessary goods like essentials, medicine, clothes to Ukraine from Poland. He also volunteered to transport fleeing refugees, which was met with full acceptance and appreciation. After being given a week’s leave, Mieczysław returned to Ukraine, where he carried over 100 people to the Polish border, often spending many hours behind the wheel while maintaining full concentration and determination.
‘I drove mainly women with children but also handicapped and elderly people, I could not refuse them, so often I found myself having more than 10 people getting inside my van — thankfully it was spacious enough’, commented Mieczysław.
Mieczysław’s resolve and willingness to go to great lengths to offer help allowed him to join forces with the Polish Humanitarian Convoy founded by people like him, under which a fleet of at least 20 cars and buses constantly traveled between Lviv and the border. The fleet so far has managed to successfully transport over 20 000 refugees.
‘Together with my friend Bartek and our fellow drivers, we were able to carry up to 600 people to the border at once. In the evenings, for safety reasons, the journey was accompanied by the police. The convoy picked up people from the railroad station in Lviv and drove them to the border crossing to Korczowa, Budomierz, and Hrebenne. There, after crossing the border, Polish buses were waiting for them, said Mieczysław.
Mieczysław is now safely back in Warsaw with his fiancé, but his van — the one that was bought thanks to the generosity of our employees — still proves to be useful — it is still being deployed in the humanitarian convoy, to both transport people and to carry first aid resources, medical equipment, or even blood to those in need across Ukraine.
The many ways one can help
The sensitivity, emotion, and enthusiasm our employees collectively displayed led to many initiatives of solidarity across all of our offices. In Bydgoszcz, they launched the collection of necessities in response to the emergency in Ukraine.
‘We have collected about 10 cartons of food (including flour, sugar, teas, groats, rice, canned foods), diapers and baby wipes, cleaning products, and other personal hygiene items. One of us also donated a stroller and an infant car seat.’ commented Agnieszka Kociniewska-Nowicka, the office coordinator who helped in coordinating the collection.
The initiator of the collection, Krzysztof Maliński, our Development Director of Gaming Technology, points out that refugees from Ukraine also need help in other ways than distributing goods and resources. ‘I’m constantly on the phone helping people move across our country and offering them necessary information and advice. I try to call and write to my Ukrainian friends, who remained in their country, to let them know that they are not alone. I’m also trying to pass them job offers (our colleague Iryna Lytvynenko helps me a lot in this) so that people can get employed to support themselves. We help children who joined our school with stuff needed to start their education.’
As Krzysztof mentions, it is important to provide not just immediate assistance, but also long-term support. Together with our Lead Test Automation Engineer Iryna Lytvynenko, they helped to find and pass on job offers so that Ukrainian refugees could find employment in Poland as soon as possible. Iryna also actively participated as a volunteer, by collecting funds to pay for the transport of donations to the border or translating the necessary documents. Our Development Manager Marcin Ławicki, on the other hand, hosts in his house a lady from Ukraine with her seven-year-old son. He provides his guests with everything they need and helps them when it comes to day-to-day matters
Karolina Szamrowicz, our Test Engineer, who volunteers at the Bydgoszcz Trade Fair and Exhibition Center, where a collection point for refugees has been set up, seconds this opinion. “We always try to think practically — what else might they need and what could make their lives more comfortable.’’ Offering the much-needed practical support is also what Magda Zaręba, Senior Growth Media Buyer from our Warsaw office values. ‘I am involved in many ways, depending on where the need is at the moment. I started by collecting clothes, towels, and other things among my family in the first days after the war broke out. Since I have just renovated my apartment, I had a lot of spare furniture, interior and kitchen equipment that I no longer need, which I donated directly to people who were adjusting their apartments to accommodate people fleeing the war.’, she said. Nowadays, Magda volunteers at the train stations, offering much-needed support to those who are just arriving in Warsaw.
Robert Trypuć, Development Manager, is also involved in similar grassroots initiatives. Because his wife works at the local provincial office and has first-hand access to information about the refugees in the area, Robert can easily aid them with transport, driving them to either their place of stay, or to local points where they can get food, clothing, or arrange the most important matters. Our Head of Product, Bartosz Durczak, has also helped with distributing resources. ‘Some employees who couldn’t come to the office to drop off goods for various reasons would simply make payments to my account. Then I did the shopping and personally drove to the Bydgoszcz University of Technology, where there is the official city collection, to give them to the refugees’.
The sense of community prevails even in the direst of times
Our Team shares the same values when it comes to building and nurturing the spirit of belongingness. Milena Staniszewska, the office manager in Szczecin, put them into practice during that difficult time. ‘I welcomed our employee from Kyiv to stay at my place for a few days. I also supported her a bit with shopping and finding an apartment for the long stay afterwards’.
All these mentioned cases of help, but also the collective outpouring of support from our employees, have prompted us to launch an in-house volunteering program. We are looking forward to telling you more about the planned opportunities in the coming days. We are also committed to working arms in arms with our industry peers on laying down the systematic procedures for the ongoing help towards our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.