The Chelm city administrators invited our team to conduct a consultation before opening a new refugee help center at the abandoned Chelm TESCO supermarket. Before our consultation mission, the center was nonexistent. It was planned and successfully opened within one week by us in cooperation with Monday.com and several independent volunteers.
To ensure the safety of refugees, we have implemented the same system as in Przemyśl. But this time even more advanced: with a QR-code registration for refugees and drivers at the entrances and exits.
The system is simple.
Each refugee entering the center is registered by volunteers in our system and asked about his next destination. This information is used to find the right driver for them. Afterwards, they receive a bracelet with the appropriate number.
Displaced people could see all available means of transportation on the screens in the middle of the main hall. If they decide they want to be transported, they would communicate with the designated volunteers there, and swiftly get matched to a driver going the closest to their preferred destination. All around the main hall were facilities for IDPs to get supplies, food, wash clothes or have someone tend to their pets.
Meanwhile, drivers are registered through phones in our system on the other side of the center. Drivers must register via phone online and provide all information about their destinations, time and how many people they can transport. After the prospective drivers complete this online form, we verify their identity and documents for the safety of refugees.
When a displaced person leaves the center, volunteers already have all necessary information: who left, when, with who and where they are heading. The government authorities and center coordinators will get a high-level information report: how many refugees are in a center currently, where they left to, how many beds and volunteers are available, etc. All reports can easily be exported and shared with other appropriate government agencies. The collected data is fully secured.
Every driver goes through our verification system before we connect them with refugees. The possibility of any contact between drivers and the refugees is inaccessible until the background check is complete and we connect them. Now there is a clear hierarchy system. Prior to this, there was simply no refugee registration system at this level in Europe whatsoever. Currently we have significantly reduced the risks that refugees face taking rides from strangers in a foreign land. If formerly anyone could put on a volunteer vest, take away a child or woman and disappear, then now, thanks to the system helped to create, it is impossible for them to do so. Currently the system is available only in Poland, but we want refugees to be safe throughout Europe. We are working on spreading access to this system and you can support us in making that a reality.
In these environments you must often put personal preferences aside. On many occasions members of our team slept in the offices there to help with translations, system downtimes, maintenance and overseeing the night shift. In these pictures you can see our long time member Julia Zhukava trying to sleep on a field bed while our founder Max Maiboroda sketches out more details on the whiteboard. That night Julia stayed to help the Polish Soldiers with translations.
Given that the Polish military was there all day, split up into two 12 hour shifts, one night- and one day shift, we had to make sure to find those Soldiers most engaged to assign them the role of Coordinator. Since there are ranks already designated to each soldier, it was quite hard convincing their superiors of giving the soldiers that we saw fit more power. One of them can be seen on the left in this video called Matheuzs. Matheuzs applied himself, and by the time we were considering moving on to our next case, he was controlling the center almost entirely. We sure hope that our recommendations to his superior got him a promotion.
In the end, this project was a massive success. We were able to match displaced people with drivers so efficiently that the average time a single individual spent in the center was a maximum of 2 days. The center was able to provide a lot of comfort, privacy and peace to those who were displaced, and was visited by delegations of governments and organisations from all over Europe. We’re so happy to have been a part of this!