24 FOR 24
24 for 24

They didn't need to be heroes.

Before February 24th, 2022, they were content to be parents and children, musicians and poets, causes and companies.

When the first shot was fired and the first bombs were dropped, they didn't have to be heroes. They could have thought of only themselves. They could have turned off the TV. They could have just stayed home.

But as the war that was supposed to last for weeks stretched into months, they chose to become heroes in ways they probably never imagined.

24 for 24 is a daily series that will feature stories that show how our shared humanity continues to overcome the forces that seek to divide us even in the darkest of times.

Their stories are inspiring, heartbreaking, and infuriating. And once you've read them, seen their words, and heard their songs, you'll be ready to act. And we'll be ready to show you how.

DAY 24

Bravery lives forever.

Today marks one year of a war that Russian military and political leaders believed they would win in days.

But bravery fights forever, strengthened by every bomb, every blackout, every bullet. Emboldened by the devastating but desperate and disjointed attempts of a flailing enemy to crush something that can’t be held. Galvanized by the stories of perseverance and determination that pull themselves out of the rubble. And the stories that don’t.

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DAY 23

Слава українцям. Героям слава!

Glory to Ukrainians. Glory to the heroes. 

It’s a slight deviation from the rallying cry that has reverberated across the world that points squarely to the individual Ukrainians who have been defending their freedom every day for the past year.

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DAY 22

364 days ago feels like an eternity.

It’s difficult to remember how much was uncertain the day the world awoke to the shocking news that Russia had invaded Ukraine.

Pundits and politicians projected Ukraine’s ability to withstand Russian aggression in weeks, not months or years. It was clear that swift and sustained support from outside Ukraine would be necessary to overcome the seemingly staggering odds.

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DAY 21

Fighting a war on two fronts is widely regarded as a path to certain defeat. 

This is the situation that the war has forced upon Ukrainians fighting for their lives against ailments that seek to destroy them from the inside while Russian soldiers attempt to destroy them from the outside. Vostok SOS exists to give those Ukrainians, and so many more, a fighting chance in all of their battles.

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DAY 20

When jobs were disappearing as fast as military-aged men, most wouldn’t be searching for the perfect AirBnB for their next family vacation destination. The Russians who did were met with a surprise: the truth in pictures, courtesy of the Bickerstaff team.

“Unforgettable experiences” advertised with photos of real, Russian-inflicted devastation. A conveniently-located playground touted with a rocket slide and “few children.” Locations with no roof, but offering plenty of ventilation.

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DAY 19

Доверяй, но проверяй (“Trust but verify”) are words of wisdom Russians have heard for generations.

In their language, this rhyming reminder rings with irony, as the people they’re asked to trust almost entirely control their ability to verify. But since the invasion, that control has been challenged thanks in great part to the focus of today’s #24for24: the Russian independent, opposition media.

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DAY 18

This is not a dream.

“The shock of war undermines ordinary perception of reality. The events during the war remind us of a dream which is impossible to wake up from. At the same time, it is extremely necessary to act there, overcoming muteness and numbness of limbs that are so inherent to a dream. It is all a challenge to the intimacy of humanity, which is forced to go back to so-called common places and re-examine them again, to finally wake up in its historical and political essence.”

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DAY 17

Cafe Ukraine shouldn’t need to exist.

“It’s hard living without my husband right now. But people all around me are opening their hearts. I’m a happy Berlin girl. For now.” Olena Nominas became a “Berlin girl” in March of 2022, making the gut-wrenching decision to take her daughter and become a war refugee in Germany as bombs fell around the home she had grown to love. But what choice did she have, considering the atrocities that might befall Ukrainian women in a Russian-occupied city in a time of war.

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DAY 16

Тварь я дрожащая или право имею?

This Russian expression is used to convey when someone finally decides to do something they’ve been frightened to do for a long time.

Today, we use it to describe and celebrate those who left behind a regime that left them behind long ago without burning the bridges that allow their messages to continue to reach Russian ears.

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DAY 15

Cannon fodder or safe surrender?

As the resilience and bravery of Ukrainians proved to be more than Vladimir Putin anticipated, many misled Russian soldiers found themselves on the front lines far longer than expected. And as the prospect of mobilization loomed, more Russian men on the homefront and the battlefront started searching for options that didn’t involve killing Ukrainians or sacrificing their own lives.

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DAY 14

People get used to someone else’s wars.

For most of the world, the headlines and stories about Russia’s war on Ukraine are filled with names that are not their own and places that are not their home.

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DAY 13

Awakened by explosions.

While those three words shake us to our cores, they are not a nightly reality for most. But many of the poets who gathered virtually in March of 2022 joined from temporary shelters in homes, cities and countries that weren’t their own because that week, they’d been awakened by explosions that would change their lives.

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DAY 12

Routine can be a grounding rhythm in times of great upheaval.  

Re-establishing a connection to the “normal” activities of life, like school, is a critical way to connect refugees into their new communities. Even more critical because losing access to education for an extended period of time can have generational ramifications, particularly for the most vulnerable.

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DAY 11

Routine can be a grounding rhythm in times of great upheaval.  

Re-establishing a connection to the “normal” activities of life, like school, is a critical way to connect refugees into their new communities. Even more critical because losing access to education for an extended period of time can have generational ramifications, particularly for the most vulnerable.

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DAY 10

When what you’re running from is more than war.

Tall, sharp bushes scratched Zi Faámelu’s face, and the rough waters from the river pulled her body in the opposite direction. She knew it was the only chance she had to escape.

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When “Pay it Forward” spans generations

More than 75 years ago in Ukraine, Maria Blishchik hid a Jewish girl named Fanya Bass in during World War II from Nazis, saving her life and ensuring that her family lineage would not end.

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Christmas without the people and place you called home.

The words should break your heart. Paired with the faces of the Ukrainian families this reality was thrust upon, the words should move you to action.

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The sisterhood that surrounds motherhood knows no borders.

As Ukrainian mothers and daughters left everything but each other behind, their travels were filled with more questions than answers. And as they faced some of the enormous questions ahead, they could only hope that others would help them face the smaller questions they hadn’t even considered yet.

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We teach our children what we show them, not what we tell them.

As Karsten and his daughter made the 1,000km trip from Frankfurt to the Polish border, there was no question what they both were learning from one another. They had made donations of food and supplies, but both felt compelled to do something more.

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The name Pasternak is no stranger to controversy. 

Nobel Prize-winning Author Boris Pasternak’s body of work included Doctor Zhivago, which was banned in the Soviet Union because of its negative portrayal of life under the Soviet system. As the war broke out in 2022, the Berlin restaurant bearing the same name found itself dealing with a new controversy they never saw coming.

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When we recognize our shared humanity, we are not strangers; we are simply friends who haven’t met yet.

Anna Semyuk didn’t know the woman she was searching for at the Hungarian border last February. What she did know was that this stranger was carrying the most precious of cargo from their war-torn home to the safety of her embrace.

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Bread is the head of everything.

This Russian proverb points to the importance of bread as a staple of culture, of hospitality, and of life. And when faced with the prospect of turning off the ovens after a warehouse holding their stock was obliterated by a Russian airstrike, it’s part of why Kyiv-based artisan bakery Bakehouse flatly refused.

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“Mom immediately told me, why don’t you go ahead and leave the country.”

Sometimes, fighting for your future means leaving your past.

After the invasion, as some Russians recognized it was time to leave, their decision to get out felt as simple as it was swift. But often with less than a day to prepare, these Russians found themselves with no money, no luggage and nowhere to sleep.

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“We need to win the war, not awards.”

War-winning creative was not the brief any agency hoped to be working on in 2022. But in a single day, thousands of creatives united into a consolidated informational front and turned their talents towards a digital battlefield with daily deadlines. Our first #24for24 is dedicated to highlighting some of their initial efforts.

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