The war in Ukraine has caused devastating hardships for many families and individuals. The United Nations says nearly five million people have fled, creating the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Many people have left Russia as well. Our duty of care and people-first mindset compel us as a company to continue providing for the safety and well-being of our clients and colleagues around the world, and to assist others impacted by this crisis.
Beyond the support our company is providing, I’m inspired by the efforts of individuals around the world to help those in need. One of Graebel’s very own, Casey Phelps, senior vice president of client services, EMEA, has been leading on-the-ground efforts in Prague to support refugees in the region. Casey’s initiative and resourcefulness are making an impact on hundreds of lives and I’m proud to have leaders like her at Graebel, helping to make the world a better place.
—Bill Graebel, Chair and CEO
By Casey Phelps, Senior Vice President of Client Services, EMEA
Helping to accommodate the flood of refugees arriving in Prague since the war began has been challenging, tumultuous and humbling. Up until a few weeks ago, these refugees had been living their lives much like you and me. Most arrived here with nothing, needing food, clothes, a place to live and more.
Through donations from colleagues, friends and families, my team and I have been able to support refugees in a few different ways:
- Purchasing essentials like toiletries, baby food, diapers, clothing, water, canned food and more for those staying at the refugee center across from Graebel’s Prague office. Our colleagues in the Dundalk, Ireland office collected goods and shared those with us in Prague, so it’s truly been a global effort!
- Sponsoring rents and furnishing apartments, so individuals and families have a safe and comfortable place to rest.
- Stocking temporary living accommodates with essentials, like at the Švehlova Dormitories, where 400 refugees are being housed with support from the Red Cross.
- Buying laptops to enable children’s continued education, as they do distance learning.
- Purchasing sewing machines for those who’ve been displaced to replace the clothing they had to leave behind. There might also be an opportunity for some of the refugees to use these professionally to help re-establish themselves financially.
- Partnering with individuals who are traveling to and from the Ukraine/Slovak border to bring desperately needed supplies — like water, non-perishable food and animal care items — to refugees and their animals boarding trains to other countries. These brave drivers have also been giving refugees and their pets rides to Prague on their way home from the border, helping people get out of harm’s way.
- Donating to Humanitas Africa, a local non-governmental organization helping with food and shelter for Africans who require special assistance as third country nationals in Ukraine.
As the situation continues to evolve, we’re looking ahead to helping those who are staying in Prague for an extended period. Our longer-term goal is to provide more individualized support to a few families over the coming months, to support them with all their needs.
It’s not just these efforts that are helping displaced families; much credit goes to the volunteers running the refugee centers. Their work helping those who’ve just arrived to register, find accommodations and meet refugees’ immediate needs is essential work. The care for humanity here is undeniable. It makes me proud to see people from all walks of life coming together to support those in need. While many of us feel our efforts are only making a small difference in such a large problem, when we step back and collectively look at our support, we see just how big of a difference we’ve been able to make.
Our team in Prague couldn’t do all this without the support of the Graebel leadership team and our colleagues around the world. From people’s individual contributions to our on-the-ground efforts to the company’s commitment to donate $10,000 a month to different charities helping with the situation, Graebel has been there for us every step of the way, supporting us as we try to help people rebuild their lives. The company’s donations to Clovek v Tisni, a Prague-based organization helping refugees as they enter the Czech Republic, and the Red Cross are making a real difference in the lives of those fleeing Ukraine.
These unpredictable times require extraordinary action and I’m honored to be able to do my part, with the support of caring people and companies. If you’d like to find out how you can help more directly, or if you have any questions about your employees or mobility program as it relates to the conflict in Ukraine, contact us.