Veit's Blog

Helping Ukrainians, from Berlin


In case you’ve been avoiding the news or don’t live in the Global North: there is a war going on right now. A war started by Russia by invading Ukraine, a sovereign nation. There are a multitude of political and historical reasons for why this is happening, but aggression remains just that.

Since the war started, my family and I have been involved in helping Ukrainians from Berlin, and I wanted to document what I know about and my experiences, in the hopes that it can do a little good and help a few people get involved.

Because I do not know how to write gracefully about political and divisive topics, the tone of this blog post might be different from what you know if you’re a long-time reader.

I split this post in two parts: donating (financial, material, time), and hosting.


None of these are exhaustive. This is meant as a quick overview of the things we did or know about.


Monetary help is always needed. If you can afford to spend a few bucks, then I suggest you go down that route first: it’s immediate and it’s easy.

Depending on your sensibilities, you can donate to unpolitical or political charities. If it fits your sensibilities, you can even donate to the Ukrainian military directly. I haven’t done that. I personally donated to the Anarchist Black Cross Dresden. As the name suggests, this is a political organization and might not fit your sensibilities, in which case you’ll have to do your own research.


Material donations are also appreciated. We’ve donated clothes (though most places do not accept regular clothes anymore), a laptop, and a stroller.

The Polish Institute Berlin is one of a few places that accept every-day items (some places are looking for items such as combat tourniquets or bullet-proof vests, which I don’t suppose most of us have lying around). Scroll down for the English version.

Holzmarkt in Berlin is housing Ukrainian refugees, and they’re looking both for material donations and people who know Ukrainian to help coordinate. This is where our stroller and laptop went, and the person we are currently hosting (see below) is helping out there.


At the moment, I am working full-time while my wife is on maternity leave. As such, I’ve been trying to take care of child-care in my off-time to help my wife free up time to help arrivals at Hauptbahnhof and other places. When we were most active, these were organized primarily through WhatsApp and Telegram groups, though I think it “professionalized” over time. One potential starting point if you’re interested could be here.

We’ve also been helping the people we’re hosting figure out how and where to get vaccinated, showed them the city, and are currently helping them get their paperwork in order so that they can start a “new life” here if they decide to do so. All of this is draining, because bureaucracy is hard, but it’s also deeply rewarding.

Finally, when you are hosting someone, expect to spend some time just being there, listening to stories and concerns, and maybe see a troubling image—or many of them—on a phone screen.


The first time my wife went to the train station to help out she came back with four kind Moroccan students who had just fled and were lucky enough to come through before the great racial segregation at the borders started. We hadn’t planned on hosting that many people, but everyone just took in mothers and children, and the four of them were “left over”—this might be telling already.

Inviting four strange men into your home might seem scary at first, but I’d like you to consider that they’re refugees, fleeing from war, trying to figure out where to go. They have better things to do than a random burglary.

The four of them stayed with us for two nights while we helped them figure out where they wanted to go next, and who would receive them there. This meant joining a local Telegram group in another city and writing a message explaining their situation and asking for housing—really no skin off our backs.

As of now, we are hosting a Ukrainian who wants to stay in Berlin, and we’ve helped him get his booster vaccination (easy, go to any place that does COVID vaccinations) and tried to give him a safe space to arrive. Now he’s helping out himself. We don’t know how long he will stay with us—we’re happy to have him with us, and our baby has already decided that he’s his new best friend.


When the war in Ukraine started I primarily felt two things: grief and inertia. This war is clearly not about me, and yet I felt compelled to do something. To come to grips with this, I decided to help where I was, and however I could.

For some of us, getting active like this is giving energy. For some of us, it’s draining energy. Only give however much you have to give, and don’t burn yourself out. But please, at least get started.

UPDATE: an important thing to mention is that my wife is way more active than I am, and for most of the organizing, planning, and executing the credit goes to her. It’s a deeply troubling situation when the woman in the relationship takes care of most of the emotional and care work, and I want to at least acknowledge that. I hope that I succeed in at least pulling my weight.