top of page
  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

Poets Not Politicians

The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. My friend, photographer Jeannee Sacken posted this on social media today to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Every morning there is more news about the war on the Ukraine. There are comparisons to be made about the last time there was a ground invasion in Europe, and those comparisons are chilling.

I recognize the call. We must mobilize. I’m not talking about joining the military or gathering arms, I’m referring to the mobilization of artists everywhere, whose prose, poetry, photographs and love of beauty can inform the world in these difficult times. Right now, we need poets more than we need politicians.

This is a call to harness the raw emotion and suffering of what war is and literally paint a picture in a way that stirs people to protest the dual infections of war and power. It is up to the artists to make sure that the people around us do not lose hope for peace; that the power of love and unity are kept alive; that we demonstrate through writing, music, dance and the visual arts the human longing for peace.

We are not born to hate each other for our differences. We are born to love one another. While we witness the suffering across the ocean, feeling deeply for all those people who don’t know if their lives and homes will be destroyed, we battle a similar war here. We have divided ourselves into camps and the rhetoric that is hurled at the opposition amounts to ugly name calling and accusation. The civility of statesmanship is all but dead in Washington and it spills over to us, and we become the name callers.

This is not the world that I want to live in. The harsh light of truth is that each of us must act individually to become the kind of person who wants peace and who practices kindness, both verbally and in action. That is our call, to give voice to our greatest human potential.

My life right now is good. I’m not worried about tanks rolling down the street. I feel relatively safe, but none of that is cause for apathy. The questions of the day amount to this: how can I be a force for good? How can I help? Below is a list that was published by NPR, of organizations where you can donate. Beyond on that, this is a call to artists. It is a call to mothers, teachers, doctors, and every human being to be a force for good and treat each other in a way that in this moment, eludes our politicians.


UNICEF supports health, nutrition, HIV prevention, education, safe drinking water, sanitation and protection for children and families caught in the conflict in Ukraine.

"Heavy weapons fire along the line of contact has already damaged critical water infrastructure and education facilities in recent days," said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine M. Russell in a statement.

Médecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders

MSF runs a range of activities in Ukraine working with local volunteers, organizations, health care professionals and authorities to help people travel to health care facilities and access prescribed medications.

Voices of Children

The Ukrainian organization's Charitable Foundation helps provide psychological and psychosocial support to children affected by the armed conflict, according to its website.

Voices of Children's efforts of support for kids include art therapy, video storytelling, providing mobile psychologists and even individual help for families.

Sunflower of Peace

The nonprofit organization is raising money to prepare first aid medical tactical backpacks for paramedics and doctors on the front lines.

Each backpack is designed for groups of 5 to ten people and includes an array of first aid supplies — such as bandages, anti-hemorrhagic medicine and medical instruments, according to the organization's Facebook page.

International Committee of the Red Cross

This Switzerland-based organization is aiming to help people affected by the conflict and support the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Save the Children

Save the Children, based in London, helps to deliver lifesaving aid to vulnerable children in Ukraine and around the world. According to its website, the organization says it is on the ground in the U.S. and other parts of the world "delivering essential humanitarian aid."

"We are gravely concerned for children in Ukraine, Afghanistan and around the world who might be caught in the middle of armed conflict, forced to flee their homes and exposed to injury, hunger and sub-zero temperatures," the organization writes in a statement online.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

The international organization aims to provide emergency assistance to families in Ukraine — providing aid such as cash assistance and opportunities for resettlement in the U.S.

"UNHCR is working with the authorities, UN and other partners in Ukraine and is ready to provide humanitarian assistance wherever necessary and possible. To that effect, security and access for humanitarian efforts must be guaranteed," the organization said in a statement.


CARE is raising money for its Ukraine Crisis Fund, which will provide immediate aid including food, water, hygiene kits, support services and direct cash assistance.

The humanitarian organization aims to raise $20 million and help at least 4 million Ukrainians. It says it will prioritize women and girls, families and the elderly.

International Medical Corps

The global nonprofit has been delivering primary health care and mental health services in eastern Ukraine since 2014, and is raising funds to expand those services for people affected by the latest conflict.

It says cold weather and economic insecurity in the lead up to Thursday's attack have left nearly 3 million Ukrainians relying on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, a number that is certain to rise nationwide.

Its Ukraine team is preparing to deploy mobile medical teams to provide emergency and primary health services, mental health and psychosocial services and COVID-19 awareness and prevention services for people who have been displaced.

Let your heart stay open and your resolve for peace be foundational.



bottom of page