Muskie program alumnus organizes COVID-19 volunteer efforts

We recently interviewed Michael Kharenko, a Muskie Program alumnus, about his efforts to help his community in Ukraine during COVID-19. We commend Michael and other U.S. exchange program alumni who are working to combat the effects of COVID-19 here in Ukraine!

We understand you’ve created a working group to help companies manage the business consequences of COVID-19. Can you tell us a little about that effort?

I am involved in a number of professional and social initiatives to help Ukraine overcome the challenges with the Covid-19 situation.

Our law firm Sayenko Kharenko keeps businesses updated about changes in the regulations in real time. Every practice group monitors the updates and promptly informs the business community so that they are able to quickly adjust.

Together with my partners, I organized a private task force that contributed more than UAH 3.5 million to provide ventilators and other medical supplies to Ukrainian hospitals. Based on further requests from various businessmen to contribute to our private initiative, we decided to make a broader effort and set up a Charity Foundation “Dyhai” (Breeze).

We provide legal and other support to a group of scientists and mathematicians who work on modeling scenarios and new approaches to testing, which can be used to fight Covid–19.

Tell us a little bit about your experience in the Muskie Program. How do you feel it helped prepare you for the issues you’re working on today?

The Muskie Program helped me gain exposure to various nationalities and cultures, from the U.S. to Latin America, Asia and Africa — and this made me a person of the world. I get people from many countries, and they get me! Growing communication skills and making contacts throughout the world has had a significant positive impact on my initiatives in business and public life.

What advice do you have for young Ukrainians who want to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 in Ukraine?

Each generation has its own trying times, something that has never happened before. Do what you can, do it the best you can. Keep yourself busy and try to be useful, look around for whoever may need your help.

The young generation is the future of our nation: act so that when you are old, you are able to take pride in how you responded to this challenge.

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