Even though he’s almost 8,000 kilometres away in London, Ont., Sergii Nevmerzhytskyi is feeling the effects of the war in Ukraine.
His parents, other relatives, and his wife’s family live in Ukraine and have been providing frequent updates since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February: they’ve had to relocate – over and over again; the urgent need for medicine, sleeping bags, and other supplies; and – most disturbing – their fear and uncertainty.
Nevmerzhytskyi, an Ivey PhD candidate who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 2016, felt he needed to give back to his home country – and he did it with help from others in the London community.
Nevmerzhytskyi has been working with the London Ukrainian Centre on a humanitarian aid drive for Ukraine. Inspired by an email his PhD supervisor distributed to share news of a local rally in support of Ukraine, Nevmerzhytskyi sent out his own appeal to the Ivey community for donations just days after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began.
“I realized the [Ukrainian Centre’s] audience could be broader if I followed up with other people. I reacted impulsively,” he said. “Rallying is good, but there are specific needs. I thought I should help the best way I can.”
He has since been accepting goods and funds at Ivey and adding them to the London Ukrainian Centre’s collection destined for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugee camps. To date, the centre has raised more than $198,500 and collected 4,000 boxes of donations, and about 30 people from Ivey have reached out to Nevmerzhytskyi directly to lend support.
“There were so many responses from Ivey people willing to help out in so many ways. It encourages me a lot. It means that I’m doing something important. People don’t just get together and do a good thing. They need to be informed about the possibilities to do those good things,” he said.
Nevmerzhytskyi is still fundraising for necessities, such as medical supplies and bullet-proof vests, but he is also now focused on helping Ukrainian refugees, who might soon arrive in London, find housing, work and childcare. He encourages local businesses to offer employment to Ukrainian refugees and for Londoners to consider offering short-term accommodation by contacting the London Ukrainian Centre.
Nevmerzhytskyi said he expects there will be an influx of refugees in May and the need for supplies will continue, so it’s important to keep the momentum going. In particular, he hopes to see institutions respond more proactively since the bulk of donations have been from individuals – and even those have tapered off.
“In the first few days, there were a lot of donations flowing and that is very much appreciated, but the war is still there,” he said. “We need to switch from hoping the war will end soon to a mental state where we accept some kind of peace tax so that every month, we donate something.”
And although he has a personal connection to Ukraine, he said the effects of the conflict there have been felt around the world, and everyone should do what they can to help out.
“You can’t live in a society and just take from it. You need to give back, not just take, because if you take, you exhaust the place where you live and society suffers,” he said.
Since the war broke out in Ukraine, Ivey has launched a fundraising campaign to welcome 12 outstanding young business and community leaders displaced by the conflict in Ukraine to its MBA program.
In March, Western University has announced a new round of funding to provide financial and other assistance to students and scholars displaced by the war. For more information on all the supports available, visit Western International’s website.