Mind Readings: Shipping Stuff to a Warzone

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Mind Readings: Shipping Stuff to a Warzone

In this episode, I talked about how I sent a power bank to a friend in Kyiv, Ukraine, over the holidays. I used Nova Poshta to get the package to her and we used Amazon Deutschland as the ecommerce system. The point of this story is twofold: logistically, it is possible to send packages to people in Ukraine, even in war zones; and the broader lesson is that you can’t help everybody, but you can help somebody, and that effort can make the world a better place.

Mind Readings: Shipping Stuff to a Warzone

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In this episode, let’s talk about doing something a little bit different. Shipping a package to a war zone, though, over the holidays, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a friend of mine, a data scientist in Kyiv, Ukraine, was talking about how she didn’t have electricity a good amount of the time. Now, there’s not a whole lot that we individually can do for everyone. But in this instance, there was something I could do for one person—power banks, power generation stations, like the Ecoflo, Jackery, Anker, and Power Station. These are all large batteries, essentially, that you can take, charge them up, and then use them. And if you were to send one of these to somebody who didn’t have reliable access to electricity, but had access to it in some fashion, it would be a pretty big help. So what we coordinated on was, “What if I were to try and send one of these things?” Knowing that my colleague could use this to essentially let her do her job, right, because, as with all of our technology, we all require electricity, and someone who’s doing machine learning and AI and data science kind of needs a working laptop with electricity.

So it turns out that Ukraine’s Postal Service, Nova Poshta, has drops in most major nations. You go to their website, NPShopping.com, and if you can navigate it—which is entirely in Ukrainian—if you can navigate it, you can sign up for a mailbox. And what they will do is, their shipping depots, you can send stuff—mail stuff—to their shipping depot in whatever country you’re in with the nearest country. And then, with enough time and logistics, they will manage to get your package to the intended recipient somewhere in Ukraine. There are obviously places within Ukraine itself where you’re not shipping anything, like Crimea, for example. You’re probably not shipping stuff there right now. But in the major cities that are not under direct siege, yeah, you can send stuff there.

So I coordinated with my friend and went to Amazon—but not Amazon US because Amazon US, even though Nova Poshta has shipping depots in the United States, all of our equipment in the USA is on USA electrical standards, which doesn’t do you a bit of good outside of North America, essentially. The voltages are different. The plugs are different, like have you ever seen a travel adapter that says “EU?” It’s a two-prong thing and, you know, the US has sort of a three-prong thing going on. So we went to Amazon Deutschland, Amazon Germany, and found the same station there, and shipped it from the Amazon Germany warehouse to the Nova Porsche depot in Germany—I forget where in Germany it is. And then they said that, from there on to Ukraine, it worked. You know, I was watching it very carefully. One of my neighbors here in the USA is from Cherkasy, so she’s Ukrainian and can help translate and tell me what was going on. But it worked. We got a 260-watt-hour, essentially battery system to my colleague in Kyiv. And now she posted on Instagram that she can get her job done and she can get her work done, which obviously provides income and all those things.

The point of this story is twofold. One, it is possible to do these things right. If you know people who are in Ukraine—or this process can be applied to many different countries—but in particular for Ukraine, if you know people in Ukraine and you want to send them stuff, it turns out you can—you just have to set up an account with Nova Costa and then buy the thing on the nearest ecommerce system and then ship it to the drop point. So logistically, that’s a takeaway, if you are looking to help. This is one avenue if you know somebody to send it to; if you don’t know who to send it to, then look to the major charities. Go to United 24—it’s United24.gov.ua—and just donate money there. It’s probably a much better use of your resources. But if you know somebody who needs something and it can be shipped from an ecommerce system like Amazon or eBay or whatever, this is a way to do it. It works.

The second, and broader, lesson is you can’t help everybody. You can’t save the world, right? Even the richest people can’t save the world. But you absolutely can help somebody. And that’s a lesson that I think we all need to take to heart. You can’t help everybody, but you can help somebody. So if it is within your power to help one person, just that effort makes the world a better place. It is. If you had billions of dollars, you would still be struggling to fix the problem entirely. But you absolutely could help a person, a family, or a village, depending on the level of resources you have available to you. So let that be something that you can take to heart and that you can apply in your life. Find somebody to help and see what the world looks like when you’re done. And again, it doesn’t have to be in a far-off nation. It could be somebody in your town, your neighborhood, your city. There are no shortage of people who need help, and you can help one person. And if you do that, we all do that, we make the world a better place.

Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you soon. If you liked this video, go ahead and hit that subscribe button.

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