Updated: Jan 2
Last September I decided that every year, 5% of Poggiosole's gross August receipts would go to a good cause. Our first "summer beneficiary" was Direct Relief: specifically their 2021 Haiti Earthquake Response fund. This year I wanted it to be an organization providing relief or logistics, training or supplies countering Russian aggression in Ukraine. So I asked the best person I could think to ask: my friend Eugene who, until just yesterday, headed the team of software developers that I used to work with in Kharkiv.
Eugene suggested a charity called RAZOM (which means "together" in Ukrainian), focused on supporting the troops that defend Kharkiv with "drones, power generators, Starlink terminals" and other non-lethal equipment that supports battle logistics in and around Kharkiv. The idea of donating to purchase military hardware gave me pause, and I asked Eugene if he could instead recommend organizations supporting families or vets away from conflict zones. Eugene replied "RAZOM used to help families before the full scale war began. [From February] we switched 100% of funds to help the military. If they don't succeed in defending the country, there will be no families, no vets, nothing. Only labor camps."
After a few moments' reflection, and noting both this morning's news reports of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's surprise visit to Kiev and the Ukrainian army’s recent successful counter-offensives in Kharkiv and elsewhere, I decided RAZOM would be Poggiosole's summer beneficiary this year.
Although I am personally against war and am drawn to tracts and treatises that argue against tribalism and violence, I cannot deny the dark side of our natures and I do believe that when attacked, a response is called for. Like many others, I’ve been impressed at the degree to which Ukraine’s armed forces have forestalled Russia’s invasion. I feel a connection to Kharkiv and my ex-colleagues. Finally, I trust my friend Eugene who added, "RAZOM is not purchasing weapons. We're only purchasing stuff that is generally available. But this mostly civilian-grade stuff is being used to save the lives of our soldiers...I position it to myself and to other folks as a way to personally contribute to the greatest geopolitical shift since the end of WW2." In the above photo: two generators, a Starlink terminal, sleeping mats, food and drink are unloaded near the front lines from a van operated by RAZOM.
Postscript, September 12: The above-mentioned Kharkiv counter-offensive has, in the short term at least, been spectacularly successful as evidenced in the below maps comparing Ukrainian vs Russian-held territories in northeastern Ukraine on September 6th and September 11th, just 5 days later. Whether Ukraine will use this momentum to recapture a portion of the Donbas is anyone's guess, but as several analysts have remarked since Ukrainian forces repelled the Russian army's bid to take Kyiv in March, the Ukrainians know what they are fighting for; it is not clear that the Russians do.