In a remarkable act of kindness and generosity, six Adaptavist employees, led by Phill Fox, used the Pledge 1% initiative to drive two vans full of essential items to the Ukraine/Polish border to meet Andriy Dekhtyar and colleagues from Rozdoum. Because, sometimes, showing support is more than sending aid or donations. It is about showing up for a friend.
2022 was a tumultuous year for many companies, but few can compare it to those working from Ukraine. When The Adaptavist Group acquired Rozdoum, I couldn't believe their resilience and fortitude—apologising for rearranged or delayed calls due to air raids and continuing business as usual under the circumstances most of us couldn't imagine.
Read Andriy's account of what 2022 was like for them.
During a call to determine what equipment to send to allow the Rozdoum colleagues to work with as much equity as possible, Andriy was delayed 30 minutes due to an air raid - and still attended, apologising for the inconvenience. I knew we had to do more. It was important to show them that we stand with them and are here for them beyond mere platitudes and the usual onboarding of their staff. I already made a humanitarian trip to Poland in 2022, and after speaking with Andriy, I knew I had to go again. So a plan was formed with Ava M over a chat at the Adaptavist end-of-year celebration. With the support of Simon and the rest of The Adaptavist Group, planning started for a trip and fundraising to make a slight difference to our Rozdoum colleagues, their families and their communities.
I started fundraising by donating a van for Rozdoum and their community. Adaptavist contributed £30,000+ towards equipment and supplies, and we opened up a JustGiving page and promoted it internally. We were overwhelmed by the response. Andy K donated some prized vinyl for a record giveaway and other initiatives. Still, in all honesty, colleagues just wanted to help in whatever way they could. We reached our target the weekend before the trip, and contributions were still coming in until the night we left.
I knew I could not drive the whole way across Europe, so I was delighted when Neil P, Lou M, Lou W, David L and Sandy F volunteered to drive with me; it also allowed us to go from one van full to two! And despite not publicising the trip outside of Adaptavist, we had support from other partners and customers who got to hear about the trip through their personal contacts.
"I have worked for some time on projects with people from Rozdoum, and have seen their amazing professionalism and resilience under the conditions they and their families live in. The opportunity to help them directly was not one I could pass up."
The money donated went towards humanitarian essentials. More power banks, more sleeping bags and thermals, huge first aid kits, hand tools to allow them to mend and rebuild where they can, thermos flasks, insulated bags, camping stoves, car batteries and generators - basically anything that could make their life a little bit easier. We added 43 extra blankets with the last-minute contributions on our way to the ferry.
From a practical perspective, sending items to Ukraine isn't simple as they are in a warzone. This equipment wouldn't have been able to get to the Ukrainian community without transporting the items directly. The items we provided were for distribution within their communities. We sent art packs for children in air raid shelters, extra tools for repairing and rebuilding, big field first aid kits, solar panels and generators, thermals, sleeping bags and blankets, thermos flasks for food, chocolate and more.
But support is about more than sending power banks and medical kits. It's about embracing each other, laughing over a meal, sharing a bar of chocolate and saying we showed up. We're here. We're here for you.
Before setting off from the UK, we felt uplifted, excited even; there was a sense of doing something good, a sense of adventure. But as we crossed the channel into mainland Europe, it started to feel real; we were driving towards a warzone. But our 1000-mile trip through Holland (nice pit stops), Germany (fast and scary autobahn) and Poland (bigger than you think), filled with service station dinners and friendly disagreements over music, was nothing compared to our Rozdoum colleagues.
Andriy and Maksym had experienced ten hours of heavy shelling before leaving their families to drive through the night to meet us at the border. It was a stark reminder that one year in, this war still affects everyday life for our colleagues and the people of Ukraine in the most unimaginable of ways. We thought we had endured hardship driving through the night and sleeping in a van, but they had risked their lives to travel and collect the much-needed humanitarian aid for their communities.
It was an emotional meeting between new colleagues, new friends, and our best collective Adaptavist community example of utilising Pledge 1% for the greater good.
When we met at the hotel near the border at 3:20am, we embraced in big hugs and tired tears before we all had a much-needed sleep. The vans were parked in the car park, ready for reloading in the morning.
After what felt like far too little sleep, we settled down for a much-deserved meal together, a unanimous "both" to the question of sausage or eggs. Andriy explained that the ten hours of shelling before their departure had removed the power, leaving their families without electricity. We joked through heartbreak about the generators and solar panels we had brought them, but suddenly nothing felt like enough.
"When we finished packing the vans, it felt like a lot, but when we arrived at the border, it didn't seem like enough. Not even close. "
Ahead of the trip leaving, we asked each of the Rozdoum employees to list their children and their ages so that we could surprise them with appropriate gifts wrapped up in Christmas paper from The Adaptavist Group. We felt it was important for their children to have the opportunity to be just that, children.
"The gifts for the children were the most meaningful because our children's happiness is the most important thing to us right now."
We were all humbled that Andriy and Maksym also brought thank-you gifts for us, with caps, snacks, and drinks in signature sunflower bags—the national flower, now a symbol of resilience and resistance.
In the UK, the war has felt like it's a million miles away, but the reality is that it's not. It's a day of driving to the border. Beyond that border, our friends and colleagues are being forced to fight to hold on to a feeling of normality. They live with dignity and grace in an unimaginable situation, and in doing so, they're showing the power and value of community. Watching them drive off was one of the hardest things the UK driver team had to do. And yet, I speak for everyone when I say we would all do it again in a heartbeat. What we did hasn't fixed a broken situation. But what we have done, I hope, is bring a bit of much-needed love and unity to the world.
Andriy and the Rozdoum team distributed the aid to colleagues and their communities across the whole of Ukraine who were relocated due to the warzone. They sent us photos that came in as we drove back to the UK, and while waving them off at the border had been sobering, seeing the photos come in really raised our spirits.
"I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Adaptavist team for their outstanding contribution. Your unwavering support is truly appreciated."
On behalf of the entire team, I sincerely thank everyone who helped. The global effort from across The Adaptavist Group, from the drivers to everyone who donated items, time or money and the teams that booked our travel, supported the filling out of paperwork and all our friends and family who sent us off and welcomed us safely back home. Being part of Pledge 1% allowed us to mobilise as an organisation, as a global community, as friends to support our Ukrainian family.
"To travel with colleagues on a trip that has brought us together in a shared experience is priceless. Love is love! I feel very grateful and hopeful for future trips and ways to support all our colleagues at Rozdoum"
This was not a one-off package of support. For one, we still have some money that arrived too late for this trip from fundraising and are already planning another trip! We have since had external customers, partners and Atlassian employees asking how they can help next time. The Adaptavist Group will continue its long-term commitment to Rozdoum, their families and their community. This has simply been the first step.
"It's impossible to meet people living in a war zone without being affected. I was left feeling that what we'd done wasn't enough, but I'm very glad we did as much as we did. Since coming home, I've been trying to find more ways to help. I want to show my sons that every act of kindness in the world matters. "
As the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine continues, it is essential to recognise the incredible impact businesses can have on the country's economic future. By supporting aid missions and investing in Ukrainian companies, we can help to rebuild communities devastated by conflict and promote long-term economic growth. We hope to see more of our friends in the Atlassian ecosystem do the same by choosing Rozdoum or another Ukrainian organisation to do business with.
Our fundraising page remains open.
All funds will go directly to supporting communities in Ukraine.