Photo Credit: TN
These Black Women Partnered With Airbnb.org & Raised Funds To Help Black People Flee Ukraine
The devastating news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was made worse when we learned of the racism faced when Black people flee Ukraine for safety. The hypocrisy in the treatment of Black people at the border highlighted that even in dire times, racism prevails. It was enough to spark much online conversation among the Black community; some were hurt but unsurprised, some were distressed and affected, while others mobilized.
When three Black women were brought together by a tweet, after a series of DMs and shared ideas, Black Women for Black Lives (BW4BL) was born. As an organization, BW4BL came together to raise money and “rescue Black lives”, especially students, from the chaotic and stressful process of leaving Ukraine. The discrimination that was intensely obvious when Black people tried to flee Ukraine was enough to prompt Patricia Daley, Tokunbo Koiki and Korrine Sky to raise money on GoFundMe and Paypal to help Africans and Afro-Caribbeans in Ukraine.
Since launching, they have seen huge success. As of March 10th they disbursed £95K to over 950 Blacks people in need of support while fleeing Ukraine. Most recently, they announced their partnership with Airbnb.org to ‘ensure the students who are still fleeing Ukraine and settling in other countries are accommodated for up to 14 days.’
With transparency, accountability and due diligence at the forefront, there are constant updates sharing what actions are being taken with the fundraiser. The team has also expanded to include 5 more volunteers and remain open to community support in multiple ways.
Co-founder Tokunbo Koiki speaks with Travel Noire in this exclusive look at the realities of setting up the organisation to support as Black people flee Ukraine.
Could you tell us how the project is going?
It has truly been an incredible and extraordinary moment for us all. We very quickly grew from a team of 3 to a group of 8 core Black women
volunteering hours and hours of their time, knowledge and resources to help us achieve our objective of helping Black people fleeing Ukraine.
We have been able to build on the initial momentum of our early successes to capture global press and forge partnerships with organizations such as RGA, Zazuu, Sum of Us and Airbnb.org. We have also had staff and directors from other global brands such as Google, Meta and 38Degrees reaching out to
offer their support.
BW4BL has called out for volunteers and mental health professionals especially, how else has the community come together to support?
The response has been phenomenal. We have had people from all over the world reach out to donate their time and skills. As a group, we have forged a strong bond of sisterhood and camaraderie in a very short space of time. As a senior social worker and lifelong mental health advocate, I have tried to hold space for the group by helping us to recognize the potential adverse impact of supporting people who have and are still undergoing unimaginable trauma.
I personally took a mental health day to refocus my time and energy to my actual 9-5 as well as to spend time with my daughter. It has been very encouraging to see other volunteers also doing the same over the weekend.
Anything to add about the crisis in the treatment of Black people fleeing Ukraine?
Whilst many have expressed their shock and disbelief by this treatment of Black people, we were sadly not surprised. Anti-Blackness is a global issue, so it is not surprising that even at the time of having their countries under siege, white supremacy was able to unite Ukrainians and Russians as well as neighboring countries in that region.