The volunteer web site has raised over 1 million Euros and efficiently housed over 33,000 refugees in Lithuania.
In instances of disaster, solidarity makes a distinction. In the meanwhile, Robust Collectively is a volunteer-led initiative created by the Pelėdos Squad of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union (LRU) to at the moment present real, secure housing options to refugees of the warfare in Ukraine.
A journalist and volunteer of the initiative and the LRU, Edmundas Jakilaitis is well-drilled in fast considering and efficient group. “We knew Russia was about to assault, and we knew we may do one thing to assist.” Robust Collectively is the end result.
“Not one particular person is sleeping in a station, faculty, or a public house. They’re all staying at individuals’s properties – the concept is working.”
Robust Collectively, At all times
Robust Collectively is an easy-to-use on-line platform for prepared Lithuanian households to supply a spot of their properties and supply shelter to refugees.
The initiative started in 2020 through the first Coronavirus lockdown in Lithuania to offer important protections reminiscent of meals and drugs to at-risk and weak individuals.
“We tried to think about how we may assist these with well being issues, individuals with disabilities, and those that are older. Again then, we had been attempting to consider learn how to assist individuals who couldn’t go away their properties – now it’s the alternative.”
“First, we launched a public consciousness marketing campaign and printed net banners and press releases, however the public actually obtained concerned after we created our web site. That’s how we gathered virtually 10,000 volunteers so rapidly.”
Nonetheless, the sustained power and velocity of the response to the Robust Collectively undertaking speaks of an outpouring of solidarity that has not waned among the many public regardless of virtually three years of continued crises.
“We knew individuals wanted assist, so we thought we must always carry volunteers collectively. That’s how our group functioned through the two quarantines, with hundreds of volunteers serving to individuals by way of a cellphone line we arrange.”
Two lengthy lockdowns later, it appeared Robust Collectively would not be wanted. Edmundas returned to residing his on a regular basis life, hoping for that very factor. For a short time, the group disbanded till every thing modified when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Housing, Internet hosting, and Solidarity
Bordered to the south-east by the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and to the south-west by Belarus, Lithuania shares virtually 1,000 kilometers of land with the 2 nations in battle with Ukraine.
So, with the numerous hundreds of Ukrainian refugees trying to go via the slender hall alongside the Lithuanian-Polish border, it quickly turned clear that the group wanted to scale its operation quickly.
“On Monday, we got here up with the concept. On Tuesday, we made an internet site. Then, on Wednesday, it was up and working, and we already had hundreds of volunteers.”
“About two weeks earlier than the warfare began, after we started to really feel it was going to begin, we started preparations. So we determined we would have liked to create a system the place individuals may provide their flats and homes to refugees.”
For Robust Collectively, transitioning from a post-lockdown lull to an impending humanitarian disaster of excessive operational complexity required a brand new method that was fast to implement, reliable, and infinitely scalable.
And when Edmundas and his group wanted an internet site, Unicorns LT beneficial Hostinger. Robust Collectively obtained in contact with us, and we helped get it off the bottom.
An On-the-Floor Response
Edmundas and a unit of 27 volunteers instantly arrange a refugee heart on the Polish-Ukrainian border, reworking a four-star lodge right into a reduction station with navy precision.
“One of the vital issues for an individual fleeing warfare is dignity.”
Edmundas has little doubt that it was “positively one of the best refugee heart on the planet.” First, everybody arriving on the heart was greeted with a steaming scorching bowl of Ukrainian borscht. Then, they sat down collectively, ate at tables with crisp white tablecloths, slept a bit, showered, and recovered as a lot as doable earlier than deciding the place to go subsequent.
Nonetheless, Edmundas and his crew knew they needed to be very cautious in organizing that subsequent step. All too conscious of the potential dangers of human trafficking, Robust Collectively rapidly determined it was too dangerous to permit volunteers to take weak individuals to Lithuania with out skilled oversight.
“You can’t put two moms with 4 kids in a automotive with a stranger to take them to Lithuania. We employed an expert bus firm as a result of they work underneath contracts. We knew their journey routes and will observe all of them the best way. There have been no exceptions – the buses took individuals to official registration facilities, and we stayed with them till they might both apply for official lodging or go to their kin.”
An On-line Answer
Edmundas and the opposite Robust Collectively volunteers are multi-skilled however knew they wanted a platform that was easy, dependable, and fast to arrange.
Constructing an internet site was the one apparent approach to transfer ahead, and Robust Collectively represents all one of the best practices of efficient on-line communication.
“You must observe the call-to-action precept. If you would like individuals to do one thing, you have to give them the instruments. So we would have liked a platform that may empower individuals to behave, and that wouldn’t have been doable with out a web site.”
Flexibility, ease of use, and the power to scale at any second are crucial issues for Robust Collectively because the disaster continues to unfold.
“We take into consideration learn how to construct issues that may work for everyone, not only for one particular person.”
Whereas publicizing the web site itself proved a problem, Edmundas and the squad of 27 volunteers work with communication, media, and advertising every day.
Taking issues into their very own fingers, they had been capable of design and publish their very own web site and discover a internet hosting resolution that might deal with the site visitors from a battle that has displaced over 10 million individuals and counting.
What Edmundas didn’t count on was the sheer quantity of site visitors and assist from individuals providing assist.
“To start with, we financed every thing ourselves. Then in the future, after we made the web site and obtained the message on the market, we noticed that we had 100,000 Euros in our account. The following day we had 200,000, and that’s how we raised over 1 million.”
Whereas the battle continues to ravage Ukraine, Robust Collectively has pledged to proceed caring for those who want their assist.
The credo is easy: arise and be counted on when these round you need assistance. It’s a easy and unshakable perception for Edmudas and everybody concerned in Robust Collectively, outlined by self-motivation and solidarity and empowered by discovering the precise instruments for the job.
“For those who do one thing your self and should you attempt, it won’t be simple, however you’ll be taught that it’ll work out ultimately.”
The warfare is just not over but, and folks nonetheless want shelter. Robust Collectively is searching for volunteers who may give a house to refugees in Lithuania.
When you’ve got an concept that might assist Ukrainians and you might be in want of internet hosting, contact us at email@example.com – we’re right here that can assist you out.