Israel's high-tech sector is one of the biggest, most successful tech ecosystems in the world. Often, high-tech companies hire developers from around the globe, and Ukraine is no exception. There are thousands of Ukrainians that work as developers for many Israeli companies; they are an integral part of our ecosystem. In the wake of the horrors many Ukrainians are facing from the war, Israelis couldn't help but wonder what they can do to help.
One Israeli, Elya Livshitz who works for the Israeli high-tech company Guesty (which employs 50 developers from Ukraine) decided to start an initiation called Code4Ukraine– a voluntary hackathon to develop humanitarian technologies to assist in the absorption of Ukrainian refugees. He, along with developers from Guesty, developers from other Israeli high-tech companies, Israelis working abroad, and Ukrainians working in high tech who are currently refugees, all took part in this initiative. Joining the hackathon were high-tech companies Kaltura, Salesforce, Sid Israel, the Association for International Development, and the Israeli Council for Volunteering. Once involved, participants were divided into working groups and presented with different initiatives for development.
The platforms that arose from this initiation are very impressive. First place was awarded to the "Friends in Israel" team, which developed an app to connect new immigrants with Israeli families to ease their integration into Israeli society. The second-place winners, led by Alisa Vysoky, a refugee herself, developed the SAFEWAY platform to connect Ukrainian women with volunteers and local social organizations around the world. The platform will enable bilateral dialogue that aims to create a safe environment for women and prevent situations of exploitation. Other projects that were developed during the hackathon were technologies to assist with mental relief for refugees suffering from anxiety, housing placement, assistance in transporting equipment, donation platforms, and software for locating aid organizations and informing refugees about their rights and how to exercise them.
Geektime reached out to Alisa Vysoky to better understand how her experience as a refugee inspired her idea for the hackathon. She told us: "The idea to create the project came after I, as a refugee, left my home, where some of my families remained. On my way to the border, I saw many women and girls who did not know what to expect, in a panic, without money, without a language, who had nowhere to go. During this terrible trip I tried in every possible way to help some of them, but I realized that I wanted to help many more, so I decided to tackle this issue more globally. I focused on helping children and women and preventing the danger of prostitution, human trafficking, and sexual abuse. I heard about many cases of such atrocities and even witnessed similar situations firsthand. My goal is to provide as much information and primary help as possible to these girls to reduce their risk of falling prey to bad circumstances. The application that we started to develop during the hackathon was a solution to an urgent problem of miscommunication among all organizations and volunteers who are helping Ukrainian refugees. It will give order between the verified organizations and allow for a better exchange of information between them. It will therefore raise the chances of refugees receiving the necessary assistance. As we speak, I am on my way to Poland, to volunteer at the border, in cooperation with an Israeli organization. I will develop the application from the hackathon while I volunteer there."
As Amiad Soto, CEO of Guesty stated, “We are proud of Elya’s initiative and the broad mobilization of developers to find solutions to help Ukrainians during this difficult time. As a company with a substantial part of its development team located in Ukraine, we have been mobilizing to help our employees from the first moment. We are happy to expand the assistance options to the significant number of refugees now scattered around the world."