'Freedom Boxes' project delivers supplies to Ukraine, brings refugees back to Prague

A local software company's humanitarian mission to Ukraine offers help on the way there and back. Here's how you can buy a box.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.03.2022 14:54:00 (updated on 20.03.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A humanitarian mission launched at the start of the war in Ukraine is delivering boxes of essential items to people in Ukraine and bringing refugees from Poland’s border with Ukraine to safety in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Switzerland.

The Freedom Boxes project was started by Stuart Watkins, owner of Prague-based software company Zenoo. When the war began, Watkins, his family, and his team set about to help those affected by the invasion. The team is made up of people from the UK and across Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine.

They prepare, pack, and deliver the boxes directly to those in need – including in war zones – with the team’s drivers risking their lives on every trip. Two of the four people working on the project in Ukraine are Watkins’ team members. They are helping to coordinate getting people to the border and out of the areas under siege.

“During war, it is always the vulnerable who suffer the most. We are dropping off truckloads of Freedom Boxes for distribution to those who need them and bringing Ukrainian refugees to safety,” Watkins said in a press release.

Zenoo, which has colleagues in Ukraine, had the ability to mobilize its assets, people, and connections quickly to begin helping. “Larger organizations are less agile and take longer to mobilize, whereas Freedom Boxes provides a way for people to have a much more immediate and direct impact,” Watkins said.

In the first two weeks of the conflict, over 450 Freedom Boxes were delivered and over 70 refugees were transported to safety.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to get essential items into Ukraine while getting as many people as we can out and away from danger,” Watkins said.

“As the humanitarian crisis worsens, bordering countries are filling up with refugees. They are having to travel further afar which can add days onto their journeys. The Freedom Buses are helping solve this problem,” Watkins added.

Freedom Boxes team loading a van. Photo: © Adam Trachtman, Freedom Boxes.
Freedom Boxes team loading a van. Photo: © Adam Trachtman, Freedom Boxes.

As a tech company, Zenoo has been able to quickly build solutions to utilize its assets for the greater good, with QR codes to help understand what people need and tracking devices to verify receipt of items.

People can help the project by donating to sponsor the cost of a bus trip for a refugee or the cost of any four types of boxes: kids box, children’s hospital box, family box, and hero box. Each box has a standard set of supplies such as toys and sweets for children; hygiene items, food, and bedding for families; and power banks, energy drinks, and sleeping bags for people in conflict areas. Read more about the project, including how to contribute, here.

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