Meanwhile, in Romania, employees donated blood, helped provide personal care products, and created resources so that refugees could learn how to request asylum and access free medical services. “This extreme crisis has shown that we can act together, organize ourselves around one goal,” says Romanian MD Pantaia. “We saw people inviting Ukrainian refugees to their homes, bringing families together and allowing for a transition from war into a bit of normal life.” Among the grants he has helped coordinate is $210,000 to the Social Incubator, a Bucharest NGO helping refugees travel to safety. “I am especially proud that HP has shown its inclusive company culture through activities initiated and led by our employees.” Here’s how four HP employees took direct action and made a difference in the lives of Ukrainians fleeing the war.
PETR JEŘÁBEK, Supply Chain Operaations Manager, Czech Republic
When Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Petr Jeřábek’s group chat in Prague lit up with ideas about how to help besides just donating money. “One of my close friends is of Ukrainian descent and another has a partner from Ukraine, so we knew we needed to help somehow,” he says. Within days, the group of 14 had gathered five vans and three family cars to drive the nearly 1,600-kilometer round trip to the Ukrainian border and back to bring refugees to safety. They left before sunrise, and after driving some 12 hours through the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the caravan (which was also carrying medical supplies) arrived at the small Slovakian village of Vyšné Nemecké on the Ukrainian border. They were only allowed to drive one car at a time to pick up their refugee passengers at the Red Cross station.
Finally, they collected some 60 people: mothers with children, the elderly, even pets, and took them to the Czech Republic. (The eight-seater silver bus Jeřábek drove carried a bulldog.) Jeřábek says he knew he couldn’t ask the people he drove much about what had happened to their families—among them husbands left in Ukraine who had joined the army, maybe even were killed. The stories are heartbreaking, he says. “I think the most difficult part of any war is when you connect the news all of us see with real people’s fates, people you physically meet.”
JOANNA SZNUR-OLEKSIEWICZ, EMEA Lean Six Sigma Project Manager, Poland
As refugees began arriving in Poland, Joanna Sznur-Oleksiewicz was so upset by what she saw that she couldn’t eat. “The war took us by surprise, the number of refugees took us by surprise — no one was prepared for this. They have lost all peace and security. They are hungry, and sometimes with only one suitcase in hand and a scared child in the other,” she says of the refugees. “The shock, disbelief — I knew then that I would have to help somehow.” She personally donated food, clothing, and money, and did what she could to help the Ukrainians new to Poland find jobs. But she also was inspired to lead the Wrocław corporate social responsibility team, spending some 20 hours per week in the first month of the war planning and organizing various support initiatives and coordinating HP volunteers to unpack relief supplies from trucks, then sort and deliver them to refugees, among other activities.
“Chaos was growing by the day — it was difficult to talk about any orderly action,” she says of the early days of the war. “The most meaningful thing from my perspective was to control the chaos, to direct the actions, to redirect the energy in a wellthought-out way.” As things have settled into more of a routine, Sznur-Oleksiewicz has to spend less time organizing. Not one to stand by, she’s already moved on to what she thinks will be the more difficult challenge: long-term assistance for refugees. “We are already thinking about it and we have ideas,” she says.