Even when we have to keep our distance, people around the world are coming together like never before to help their communities face the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. We’re not public health experts, but we wanted to share some new ideas that have been put into practice in an effort to fight the virus and mitigate the social impact of the pandemic. Here are a few standout examples from Ukraine that can serve as inspiration for civic initiatives elsewhere. In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll be sharing more exciting projects from other countries. Read in Russian.
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We’ll publish the most creative and inspiring civic responses to the global pandemic.
Storytelling builds empathy, solidarity
Suka Zhizn, which means “Life’s a Bitch” in Ukrainian, started in 2017 with an approach to helping the homeless that’s as striking as their name. They began publishing stirring portrait photos and life stories of people sleeping rough on Instagram, raising both awareness and money to buy them food and arrange other social support. When the coronavirus hit Ukraine and social media began to brim with messages about staying at home to save lives, Suka Zhizn launched a campaign called “Unisolated” to draw attention to the deepened plight of the homeless who cannot stay at home to protect themselves. Using a hashtag that in Ukrainian translates to #ImStayingOnTheStreets, in a matter of hours after the campaign was launched, enough money was raised to purchase 2,000 bags of food and hygiene products for the homeless.
Making lockdown more tolerable
Lots of groups in Ukraine are coming up with creative ways to make social distancing more bearable. Writers and poets are holding online readings, one of the most popular of which is called Litcourier and is hosted by the NGO Book Forum. Many coaches and trainers on a variety of subjects have opened their online courses up to the public for free. In order to break the monotony of quarantine and also disseminate important public health information, Ukraine’s premiere online learning platform Prometheus has launched a new course about COVID-19 and opened up many of its existing courses for free.
IT and business communities join the fight
People from the IT and business communities in the Dnipropetrovsk region have launched a new site–Dnipro vs Covid-19 , through which anyone can contribute to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The platform combines crowdfunding with a space to organise volunteer efforts in support of doctors and medical staff. So far they’ve been able to purchase thousands of gloves, eye shields, masks, disinfectants and other equipment needed by regional hospitals. Medical personnel can also make specific requests through the site for medical items or other support they need. The volunteers regularly post photos and updates on the group’s Facebook page to show impact of their efforts.
Information is power
Spreading in tandem with the coronavirus is a global pandemic of disinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus. Due to the hybrid nature of the war in the east, Ukraine has more experience fighting disinformation than most countries, and the organisations working for a long time to counter disinformation are now leveraging their expertise to fight false stories about COVID-19. The well-known Ukrainian NGO StopFake debunks Russian disinformation about the virus, and a new media platform called launched in March by a group of Ukrainian fact checkers focuses exclusively on exposing fake stories on the coronavirus from both foreign and domestic sources.