Daniel Mulder, an EO Netherlands member since 2020, is based in Amsterdam. He runs two businesses, UP Events (a multifunctional event location) and UP Digital (focused on making teams better through gamification). In addition to his work and family life, Daniel is one of many EO members and entrepreneurs who have used their entrepreneurial superpowers to help coordinate support for Ukrainian refugees, and he and his family are hosting a mother and 5-year-old son in their family home.
We spoke to him about his experience hosting and what he believes EOers can do to make a positive impact in this crisis.
How did you first get involved in hosting a family from Ukraine? Tell us about your experience.
We heard stories about the first groups of families that had to stay in a refugee shelter here in the Netherlands. It all started though when fellow EO member Martijn Bos started a website in The Netherlands, HousesForUkraine, to connect host families and refugees from Ukraine. My wife and I gave the idea of hosting a full day’s consideration and decided to register. Ultimately, we were contacted by a Ukrainian woman living near us to see if we could host a family that was already on the way.
Throughout the process, we’ve all had our struggles to go through. All communication is done through Google Translate, and the 5-year-old boy and our 5-year-old daughter are still finding out whether they hate or love each other.
There were definitely learning moments for all of us along the way, including the one time we parked all of our bicycles at the train station. Later that day, our Ukrainian houseguests came back to the central station to pick up their bikes, but the parking there was so large (a few thousand bicycles easily), that they couldn’t find their bikes and decided to walk all the way home. I went in the evening to pick the bicycles up for them.
In the end though, I think we did the right thing. Our Ukrainian guests are very grateful, which makes me believe we’ve made a difference in somebody’s life.
What support did you see from your community in the Netherlands?
It was unbelievable. Because we were going to host a family, we were getting one floor in our house ready and asked some friends for help. Within no time, many friends joined our WhatsApp group.
As time passed and more and more families fleeing the war arrived in the Netherlands, other people in the app group offered to host a family as well. The group grew larger and larger; we got contacted by more and more families looking for a place to stay and found families to host them. For a traumatized brother and sister, we managed to find a retired couple on our street, who had previously been doctors, who could host and help them.
At some point, my wife asked in the WhatsApp group: “So who in this group is actually hosting a family now?” I think we counted over 20 families.
Other people in the app group and neighbors were fantastic. People cooked for our guests and us, people organized language courses, we received bicycles for them (a true necessity in the Netherlands), people helped them find jobs, and friends took the little boy to football training every week. We received clothes from everybody and even complete sets of new clothes from EO Netherlands member Carla Highet-Peeters, who runs a women’s fashion label called by-bar.
Our children’s primary school also did a great job. Before they received a green light from the local government and the board of the school, the school principal and her colleagues decided they would accept children from Ukraine. Within five days after arriving, the 5-year-old boy had a place at our school. James Murrey (EO Europe-Ukraine coordinator) has helped me a lot with the transport of people who were stuck on their travels towards the Netherlands, always providing swift solutions.
How would you like to see the greater EO community engage in supporting Ukraine?
At this very moment, I think the best thing is to listen to EO Poland, our global MyEO Help Ukraine group, and other ongoing initiatives, including Real Help Ukraine for the help that is needed the most. But in the end, we are all entrepreneurs, and I am trying myself to think how I can help the most to rebuild the country. Can I help Ukrainian entrepreneurs?
A lot of young talented Ukrainians have come to the Netherlands. I have hired Ukrainians for my company but when the war is over, is there a way they can work remotely and spend their income in the Ukrainian economy? I think Ukraine will need these young talented people again to rebuild the country. So we should find the best ways to help them.
This post originally appeared on the Real Help Ukraine website and is reposted here with permission.