SOM students team up to help Ukrainian refugees
As Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine in late February, Ali Plato called his sister Claudia, who lives in Romania about 30 miles from the Ukrainian border. Claudia described the plight of Ukrainians suddenly seeking refuge in Romania. Plato, a freshman in the Yale School of Management (SOM) Executive MBA program, was determined to help.
“I grew up in Romania and there were a lot of Ukrainians where we lived,” Plato said. “My great-grandfather was Ukrainian and I worked for seven years in a Russian company where many of my colleagues were Ukrainian. From the start of the war, I felt compelled to find ways to help those whose lives were turned upside down by the Russian invasion.
Ella Archibald, a second-year student in the Executive MBA program, completed her medical studies in Ukraine and worked in a regional public hospital outside Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. Like Plato, she resolved to support Ukrainian refugees.
“I was the medical director of the hospital,” said Archibald, who worked as a nurse practitioner at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York after arriving in the United States. “The Ukrainians I have met are very kind and hard-working people. They are ready to help others. When I saw what was happening, the horrible scenes on the news, I knew I had to help them in this moment of suffering.
At first, the two worked separately. Archibald donated money to his former hospital and reached out to students at Yale and other universities to rally support for the Ukrainian people. Plato created a website where people could donate and access information on how to help refugees. With the support of the SOM community, she raised over $20,000 in less than two weeks. Working with his sister, who was on the ground near the Romanian border, Plato directed the funds to provide supplies to refugees and help pay for transportation to other countries, including Germany, France or Great Britain. -Brittany. She also started working with a non-profit organization working in Romania to help people with disabilities who have crossed the country’s border.
Since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, about 5 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries and another 7 million are internally displaced, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Plato and Archibald realized they could help more people if they worked together.
“We have joined forces and expanded the scope of the mission,” said Archibald, who recently launched PinkBridge, a home healthcare delivery startup.
Together, the duo has helped over 300 people receive food, shelter, transportation and medical supplies. They were soon joined by Bart McDonough, Plato’s classmate in the Executive MBA program.
“I’m here to help Ali and Ella in any way I can and to raise awareness of our program for their efforts,” said McDonough, chief executive of Agio, a New York-based company that provides IT management and cybersecurity services. to financial companies.
Sebastian Archibald, a family member of Ella who is also part of the team, sent humanitarian aid to the Polish-Ukrainian border and provided vehicles to transport refugees from eastern Ukraine, Ella explained. Sebastian, a New York-based entrepreneur, offered the group to go to Krakow, Poland, and help refugees directly.
The four will travel to Krakow on April 30 to bring money and supplies to refugees, learn about the types of assistance most needed and make contact with humanitarian organizations. The week-long trip is self-funded, but they accept donations to support the refugees. people can contribute in line.
“This is a quick and targeted trip to relieve people on the Polish-Ukrainian border,” Archibald said. “People’s donations will have a direct impact. All the money we raise will go to the purchase of supplies for the refugees.
Additionally, the team launched ThePathForward.help, a digital platform that connects Yale community volunteers with refugees seeking employment in the places they have settled. Volunteers can provide career development and business advice, and help refugees write resumes, submit job applications and prepare for job interviews.
“Besides money and supplies, refugees have to rebuild their lives in new countries,” said Plato, who left Romania for the United States in 2017 and works as a mergers and acquisitions consultant at the Moss Adams consultancy. based in Seattle. “They need jobs. The digital platform offers members of the Yale community a way to share their knowledge with refugees and help them get back on their feet.
The platform was created in collaboration with Nima Software, a Romanian-based company of which Plato’s good friend, Stefan Matei, is founder and owner. McDonough and Kelsey Overby, a classmate from the Executive MBA program, participated in the project. Volunteers and refugees communicate via a messaging function. The platform can translate nine languages, including English, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, and Romanian.
“People sign up,” Plato said. “The platform is starting to take off.”
The team is grateful for the generous support of the SOM community.
“SOM’s mission is to develop leaders for business and society,” said McDonough. “We don’t have a myopic focus on business returns; we really want to help improve society. When we see a problem, we try to fix it. Ella and Ali’s efforts to help Ukrainian refugees are an example of this. It is a remarkable community. Everyone wants to help.