August 31, 2022
On Feb. 24, Tomasz was at home, about to enjoy a cold beverage while watching the evening news, when he first found out that Russia had invaded Ukraine. For Tomasz, floating team supervisor for the Boston Scientific EMEA team based in Poland, it was a call to action. With Ukrainian refugees streaming across the border into Poland, Tomasz quickly decided to travel to the border to help.
“It’s tough seeing people in that kind of misery,” Tomasz said.
Since then, over six million Ukrainian refugees – nearly all women and children – have been recorded across Europe. They left behind jobs, homes and families, with no way of knowing whether they would see their loved ones again. Arriving with nothing more than a suitcase, many found themselves cast into unfamiliar environments with little knowledge of the language and no idea what to do next.
Tomasz is one of many Boston Scientific employees who offered up their homes to Ukrainian refugees. He and his Polish colleagues have helped provide housing for hundreds of Ukrainian refugee families – and joined the efforts of Boston Scientific colleagues across the globe who have been moved to support Ukrainian relief efforts.
Acts of Generosity Across the Globe
The war in Ukraine has galvanised the Boston Scientific Foundation and employees, who have contributed $1.5 million in foundation gifts and personal donations in support of Ukrainian refugees to organisations including Project HOPE and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In addition, Boston Scientific employees across Europe have sought to help by holding blood drives and collecting household necessities for displaced families.
In Romania, for example, “the first step was to receive them into our houses,” said Georgiana, Boston Scientific country manager, Romania. With housing accounted for, Boston Scientific volunteers went on to contribute food, clothes and transportation.
In Germany, Volker and his wife opened their basement apartment to a family of three from Ukraine: Yuliia, Tymor and their toddler, Dyma. They were welcomed as extended family members over a big pizza dinner. “It was great to see the relief in their eyes that they had found a place to stay,” said Volker, who is a senior product manager for EMEA Endoscopy in Cologne, Germany.
Aside from needing food and clothing, the Ukrainian family also needed help registering with the German village where they now lived, opening bank accounts, translating documents, buying mobile phone cards, searching for jobs and finding financial help. The two families worked to quickly build mutual trust. So much so, that a week after the Ukrainians moved in, Volker and his family went on a planned ski trip -- leaving near-strangers alone in their house, something Volker could not have imagined just weeks before.
“This Could Be Us”
In Ireland, Barbara was already planning to host refugees from Afghanistan when she and her two daughters were asked to house a Ukrainian family instead: a father, mother and four elementary school-age children. Barbara, director of talent management for Boston Scientific global operations in Cork, had little time to prepare. But from a seminar she’d taken, Barbara knew the family would need help buying groceries, clothing, school supplies and other essentials, as well as navigating transportation.
Within a week of their arrival, the children were enrolled in local schools and quickly became active in tennis, dance and other activities. The children are especially attached to Barbara’s two dogs – the only family members without language barriers, Barbara noted.
For Barbara, whose refrigerator bears a sticky note reading, “THIS COULD BE US,” inviting strangers to stay was an easy decision. “It could happen anywhere,” she said. “We’d like to think that if we found ourselves with nothing but our troubles on our backs, we might meet some kindness wherever we ended up in the world.”
Learn more about our actions to support Ukraine humanitarian relief efforts.