I’m Josh Mojica and my official job is flight attendant. I have worked for the airlines for about nine years. After quite a bit of tourist-like travel, I thought it would be cool to use my benefits to do more in the world. And my very first mission, we’ll call it, was during the Syrian crisis. I went over in early 2016, to do whatever I could to help refugees.
My heart always goes out to refugees, everything I’ve seen, from Ukraine, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan, my heart tugs, you know, and wants me to go. So, I keep going and recently launched my own non- profit, Good Favor Foundation, which is a 501C3 charity that works directly with volunteers and refugees on the ground, in crisis areas. Most recently, in Ukraine.
As of right now, we connect people all over the world with the smaller grassroot organizations, and independent volunteers working directly with refugees. I don’t want to raise donations for ambiguous causes like, “donate to Ukraine”. I try to raise funds for specific items and needs. I’m trying to focus on the people that are actually doing the work day in and day out and supporting them in any way possible. It’s evolving. I managed to raise quite a bit of money. More than I thought I would, for this Ukraine trip. And now, my job is allocating those funds to the right people, and then showcasing what they’re doing with those funds on my Good Favor Instagram. So people know exactly where their money is going. And that it’s helping even in a small way.
The Poland side was over supported with NGOs, it was kind of like a really, really low key, music festival of aid.
Eventually, I would like to build a humanitarian platform, an app if you will, that will one day be a one stop shop for all things humanitarian: volunteering, donations, registering NGOs, registering volunteers on the ground in crisis zones…everything.
It launched in November, and for our first official assessment and mission we went to the border between Poland and Ukraine. There were three border sites that we assessed. The Poland side was over supported with NGOs, it was kind of like a really, really low key, music festival of aid. There were just so many NGO tents trying to appeal to refugees. It was a little bit like a carnival - not in a bad way. They were making pizzas. There were cotton candy machines. There’s this extra bit of relief. To me, it felt like a decompression area. It’s like when you’re traveling a long way, and you finally get to where you’re going, you throw your bags down, and you can breathe a little bit. And that’s what you saw as people entered the Polish side. It was just this sigh of relief. And so I think Medyka being so overly supported really helps people stay comfortable and helps them to get to where they want to go.
"I think people need that type of love in those moments. It’s that type of moment that gives me the energy to deal with all of the chaos and craziness. It's like, okay, this is the real stuff."
I think culturally Ukranians are very proud and don’t like to ask for help. But, one day this older woman was walking to the aid center. She was really cool looking - dressed pretty well. Her hair was done, she was probably in her late 70s. But, as she was walking down the hill towards me, I was saying “Suppe, Suppe”, offering it to her. And I could see it happening in her eyes, she wanted to just stop and cry. That’s all she wanted to do. She came over and the tears were welling up in her eyes. I put the soup down, and let her fall into me. I just gave her a huge hug. She sat there and cried on my chest for a minute. Just cried. And I felt like, this is where I gotta be. This is good. I gave her a little back rub and a hug, and said,” It’s okay. It’s okay.” You know, and she said, “thank you” and moved on. But I think people need that type of love in those moments. It’s that type of moment that gives me the energy to deal with all of the chaos and craziness. It’s like, okay, this is the real stuff.
We hug each other every day. How’s it going, good to see you blah, blah. But then when you see somebody who really, really needs a hug, it changes you a little bit.
The Ukraine side was quite the opposite of the Polish side. It had very little support. There was one fairly empty NGO and it was lacking in volunteer support. And so, my first thought was, here’s a need, we should fill it. I partnered with my friend, founder of Refugee Biryani and Bananas and that’s when the real work for us started with, Good Favor.
My focus is on filling the gaps that a lot of large NGOs either miss or don’t get around to because they have their big picture. Good Favor is scaled down to the individual on the ground. My goal is to make sure that people understand the background, the logistics, what it’s really like. I want it to be a very real and transparent platform where people can see good happening all the time. Real people doing real good.
For example, I felt like there needed to be a lot more coordination and communication between the Polish and Ukrainian sides. And so, I came up with this project called Bridge the Borders. I made a giant spreadsheet (And I am not a spreadsheet guy!), of all the NGOs that were registered and working in Medyka. And while taking the time to do that, I got to talk to all the coordinators, and discuss their aid inventory, what they did, who their volunteer coordinators were, every kind of information that I could get. If everyone is doing everything, then we’re not helping efficiently. But, when you give people an understanding of what you can do once you talk, then a lot of good can happen.
Right now, everyone has a contact sheet and everyone in the camps are now setting up specific, more focused, WhatsApp groups. Before, they were putting emergency texts for people with cardiac situations on a big giant group chat that was getting flooded with other texts. It made zero sense. So I told them to shrink it down. Now, the groups that are focused on medical, have their own chat, only them. So we can have a coordinated effort without all this hoopla getting in the way.
I felt like there needed to be a lot more coordination and communication between the Polish and Ukrainian sides. And so, I came up with this project called Bridge the Borders.
There’s so much more support for white Ukrainians. But not a lot of support for Indian Ukrainians or black Ukrainians. There was a definite lack of support for those people in particular. It’s a complicated feeling to navigate because they’re doing good work. But there’s still discrimination happening right in front of you. But, when you’re on the ground, and you see all the help that’s being given to these people, it really doesn’t matter. A refugee is a refugee, a displaced person is a displaced person,
My dream would be to be able to mobilize an effort to a crisis zone in under 24 hours. To send volunteers who are trained, get a field coordinator on site, have an operations manager… It’s my first run, you know, the wheels are spinning. In five or ten years I hope that we have a big network to draw from, and can go into these areas, quickly, and actually have the credibility to be in on government meetings. And, when NGOs get called into these areas, like UNHCR, or Red Cross, they give us a call.
Follow Josh's work on Instagram at @goodfavororg
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