YesHelp Connects the Displaced Women of Ukraine To Female Volunteers With Stream
Millions of women and children have fled and continue to flee Ukraine, seeking peace and safety from the Russian invasion that began in February 2022.
Forced to leave behind their loved ones, stable housing, schooling, and child care during relocation, they face risks and challenges no one could prepare for. YesHelp makes the transition for displaced Ukrainians easier by connecting them to a network of verified volunteers in local communities. Stream donated its chat services to the non-profit, enabling users to communicate safely and overcome language barriers directly inside the YesHelp mobile app.
Challenge: YesHelp needed a mature chat solution with autotranslation capabilities that would enable them to create a simple interface for safeguarding users' identities and communicating in their native languages.
Strategy: The non-profit vetted multiple chat vendors with comparable solutions but found Stream's engineering and support teams to be the most helpful and responsive, which sealed the deal.
Result: Moved by the YesHelp mission, Stream donated its chat solution pro-bono. The non-profit can now support more Ukrainians seeking help during this challenging time by removing language barriers through Stream's autotranslation functionality and delivering a simple, secure, and effective chat experience.
Co-Founders of OneIQ, Mark Angelo and Ukraine-native Oleg Grodzevich, paused commercial efforts at their Fullstack Intelligence™ software company in February 2022 in response to the war with Russia. With over 30% of OneIQ team's ties to the country, they wanted to show solidarity and support to their fellow Ukrainians.
They chose to dedicate a portion of the OneIQ engineering team to bring their idea of YesHelp—a non-profit promoting direct humanitarian aid—to fruition. YesHelp connects displaced Ukrainian women to a network of local volunteers who offer emotional support and help with donations, getting settled, child care, pet care, schools, and transportation.
The YesHelp team considered that under martial law, Ukrainian men aged 18-60 are prohibited from leaving the country, making most of the refugees female.
When asked about designing an app for one specific demographic, Angelo says, "We learned a lot talking directly to displaced Ukrainian women—in crisis mode, they felt most comfortable and safe receiving help from other women. They also wanted to be sure that they were asking for help from real people who would not take advantage of them at a time of tremendous anxiety, uncertainty and vulnerability."
Keeping these two primary requirements in mind, YesHelp focused on building a social network for women helping women and teamed up with Regula, a leading online ID verification company. Now it was important to open the lines of communication between users from diverse cultures and regions speaking different languages. To address this requirement, YesHelp needed a flexible chat solution with autotranslation capabilities.
Finding the Right Chat Solution
When the time came for YesHelp to choose a chat API, time was of the essence.
"Because of the crisis, we didn't have a lot of time to be in the R&D (research and development) phase. We needed to take a mature, scalable solution that could be quickly embedded in our software stack." Angelo says.
YesHelp began its search by vetting several chat vendors, including Stream and its top competitors. Angelo adds, "When our CTO, Oleg Grodzevich, does technical due diligence, he goes very deep. If Oleg says something is good, it's outstanding. He wanted to use Stream in the YesHelp platform because of its great APIs and fine-grained control over chat customization."
Aside from technical performance, when asked what set Stream apart from the crowd, Angelo shares,
"Our decision to partner with Stream was a combination of technical due diligence, team's responsiveness, and how quickly we are able to parse the technology. On many levels, Stream stood out from a great set of solutions."
Supporting a Good Cause
Eager to support the YesHelp mission, Stream chose to donate its services pro-bono. Angelo adds, "First of all, thank you. When stuff like this happens, you don't know who will get behind you and support you all the way. It was great to see how quickly your team said, 'Yeah, we want to do this!' This is a great cause, and it is so important for us as a tech community to come together and help."
Integrating Stream's React Chat SDK
The process of integrating Stream Chat's React SDK went exactly as the YesHelp team had hoped: quickly.
Angelo says, "We were able to get 90% of the way integrating Stream without any support. Besides one technical call, we were self-sufficient. This shows how great Stream's technology is and the team behind it."
Angelo shared that while Stream's extensive functionality was impressive, they turned off a lot of it to meet the needs of their unique audience. Making users feel safe and comfortable on YesHelp means keeping personal profiles minimal and contact information private, giving agency to those seeking help. Angelo adds, "In general, people hesitate to ask for help. It's hard and uncomfortable. So you want this experience to be pristine, with a low barrier to entry for getting started."
The Impact of Stream Chat On YesHelp
YesHelp connects Ukrainians forced to uproot their lives with trust-worthy volunteers who can lend a sympathetic ear and help them adjust to their new place by recommending housing, child care, transportation, and more. "Chat functionality is often associated with dating and gaming, etc.. In the world of humanitarian aid, it could play a very significant role by helping people overcome cultural and language barriers at an unprecedented scale," Angelo adds.
Those displaced might not speak the language of their new country, making Stream Chat's autotranslation invaluable to YesHelp. Angelo says, "Stream became central to YesHelp as a platform. If you have barriers where people can't communicate easily, they hesitate to ask for help."
Stream's donation to the non-profit organization has enabled it to carry out its mission.
"This capability, on a humanitarian level, is transformational. If you're looking at any crisis where people are displaced, have to go to another country and communicate with others, giving them advice for getting settled, or helping them find a place to stay or a school to enroll their kids in—these interactions are priceless. Facilitating this through Stream speaks volumes for its technology and the immeasurable value its team brings to YesHelp," Angelo comments.
When asked to share any final thoughts on YesHelp's partnership with Stream, Angelo says,
"There is a lot happening on the ground, non-profits helping at the border, volunteer organizations helping in local communities, etc. I believe there is a lot the tech community can do to make an impact on a much bigger scale, and YesHelp is our way of trying to do so—Stream became the cornerstone of our platform to make this possible."
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