With the beginning of Russia's full-scale aggression over many Ukrainian territories, the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe loomed. The situation is particularly difficult in the regions where hostilities have continued and continue.
In order to provide people with medicines, food, medicine, clothing and personal hygiene products, the volunteer movement has risen with renewed vigor in the country. Thousands of Ukrainians have joined together to help others.
The 'Humanitarian Initiatives' Charitable Foundation was one of the first organizations to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians and defenders. Only on the first month of the full-scale war, his volunteers sent aid for more than 30 million hryvnias to various regions.
The Gazeta.ua correspondent visited the Lviv headquarters of the 'Humanitarian Initiatives' and talked to the volunteers.
Work in full swing
At the entrance to the residential complex where the Foundation is located, we are met by 29-year-old Vladislav Kuziava. A tall blue-eyed blond man in a light green jacket has been volunteering at the Humanitarian Initiatives Charitable Foundation since the first days of the full-scale war. A mother with a dog and a girl were evacuated to Poland.
- A man has only two options during the war: either in territorial defense, or as a volunteer. I was not taken to fight. That's why I help here, - Vlad smiles, leading me into the spacious three-room office of the foundation.
- When Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine began, we built our activities based on the needs of the country, - said Ivan Vasyunyk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Humanitarian Initiatives Charitable Foundation. Despite his busy schedule, he agrees to talk about the work of the organization. - In two months, almost 260 volunteers took part in the activities of the foundation in various ways. They help in everything: to receive cargo, sort, send, communicate with partners, organize the activities of the fund, logistics.
" The goal was to minimize the time between the request for assistance and its implementation"
Humanitarian initiatives have a history of more than 20 years. During this time, implemented more than 40 projects in the field of education, culture, medicine, international cooperation. Actively helped during the Revolution of Dignity, ATO and OOS soldiers. With the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, the foundation began to cooperate with the medical battalion "Hospitallers", dozens of medical institutions and hospitals.
- We set a goal to minimize the time between the request for assistance and its implementation, - continues Ivan Vasilyevich. - Two weeks ago, hospital staff came to us to receive medicines and medical supplies for their activities. We learned that they are preparing a resuscitation bus - a full-fledged bus with six equipped places to evacuate the seriously wounded. In just three days, the Foundation, together with the Medservice Center, equipped the bus with medical equipment. They handed over six bedside monitors, bought three oxygen generators, vacuum cleaners and some other equipment. The other day the bus took the first wounded to the Dnipro hospital.
Ivan Vasyunyk, head of the charity's supervisory board (third from left), says that in the first two months of the full-scale war, about 260 volunteers took part in the Humanitarian Initiatives
Points to a large map of Ukraine hanging on the wall. Flags of different colors on it marked the places where and what help was delivered.
- A kind of map of the scale of our activities, - explains Vasiunyk. - We have identified four target groups of recipients of humanitarian aid. Medical institutions are marked in red, territorial communities in green, voluntary formations of territorial communities, our defenders are marked in blue. White and yellow are different organizations. In particular, children's, religious.
The foundation also helps IDPs. Food, medicine and food are delivered to Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Dnipro, Odesa, Mykolayiv, Vinnytsia, Brovary, Irpin, Pryluky and many cities of Ukraine. For two months and two weeks of full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation sent 218 freights to 103 recipients (from them 45 - medical institutions. - Gazeta.ua) in 43 settlements of 18 areas.
- On the third day of the military aggression, the first cargoes from Lviv have already gone by rail to Kyiv to the territorial defense forces. And we continued to expand our activities, - continues Ivan Vasiunyk. - We tried to meet the needs of our recipients as much as possible. If there were no positions among those coming from abroad, we bought the necessary funds at the expense of the founders and patrons. Almost 70 philanthropists transferred money to the fund's accounts - about 3.5 million hryvnias. They only go to purchase what is necessary for our defenders, the settlers.
The Lviv headquarters of the Humanitarian Initiatives is located in a three-room office. It is also filled with boxes of help from Ukrainian and international partners of the charity fund
The chairman of the foundation's supervisory board unpacks a large white bag with the inscription "100 pieces". In these, sugar is usually packed, but instead of it inside the turnstiles - medicines to stop the blood.
- Bought two days ago, they are very necessary at the front, - says Ivan Vasilyevich.
" Turnstile helps to quickly stop the bleeding and save the life of a warrior "
- This is one of the most important things on the front line, - volunteer Myron joins the conversation. A black man quickly unpacks the turnstile and puts it on his arm to demonstrate how the device works. - Turnstile helps to quickly stop the bleeding and save the life of a soldier. You can't do without such things at the front. We always have a lot of requests for turnstiles.
The Humanitarian Initiatives Foundation receives assistance from various regions of Ukraine from partners from abroad. Cargoes come from Germany, Poland, USA, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain.
- One of the first partners was Poland. In the first week, Biopharma Pharmaceutical Company handed over a 20-ton truck of medicines. Then they received another valuable cargo, - says Vasiunyk. - Most of the benefactors who transferred funds or delivered goods are long-time partners who know us from previous programs.
Among the cargoes with humanitarian aid - toys are often found. Volunteers of "Humanitarian Initiatives" pass them on to children who, together with their parents, became internally displaced persons in Ukraine
A man approaches the board with colorful inscriptions in Ukrainian and English.
- You see the elaborated scheme of distribution of one of the most valuable cargoes for us - medical from Denmark. According to various estimates, its value is from one and a half to 2 million conventional units. There, our doctors needed five gas analyzers. They have been transferred to key hospitals in Vinnytsia, Odesa, Lviv, Kharkiv and Dnipro. These are unique blood laboratories that can give results in a few minutes.
The cargo also included 50 state-of-the-art holters, devices that record a cardiogram online and display it on a doctor's mobile phone or computer. The Holter Foundation distributed it among hospitals and cardio centers in Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhia, Khmelnytsky, Zhytomyr, and Vinnytsia.
- In this cargo there were also 25 thousand adrenaline handles, - Ivan Vasilyevich speaks. - This is a unique tool that is in short supply in Ukraine. We distributed almost 5,000 among hospital staff and military medics. Another 20,000 were transferred under contract to the Ministry of Health. According to the order of the Ministry of Health, they are all distributed among the regions.
Large amounts of aid come to the charity fund from abroad. Many cargoes are medicines and medicines that are extremely necessary for the military, migrants and Ukrainian medical institutions.
' Step by step we agree on the needs '
The foundation has a unique partnership with British philanthropists, including Climate Action, adds Vasyunyk.
- We are talking about 20 cargoes of 20 tons. We have already received six, and the seventh is next, - he says. - Step by step we coordinate needs. Now they are increasing in food, summer clothes, sanitation.
Postcards from Ukrainian immigrants and children from other countries who support Ukraine in the fight against the Russian enemy are often sent to the fund with foreign aid.
- When we form a transfer to the front, we attach these leaflets to our defenders. For them, this is moral support, - explains Vlad Kuzyava and lays out color drawings.
Along with humanitarian aid, international partners donate children's cards to the fund. In them, foreign students express their support for the Ukrainian people and wish prosperity and happiness to our state. These leaflets are handed over by volunteers to the military. For defenders, this is good moral support
They depict Ukrainian flags, military equipment, soldiers and flowers. A postcard from Britain catches the eye. The inscription is difficult to decipher.
- Hi, my name is Luke, we want to share our experiences. Sincerely, Luke, - translates Vlad. - We often receive drawings with such English-Ukrainian captions.
From the office we go down to a huge underground parking lot. It is used as a warehouse. Almost all of them are full of boxes. Each sector is divided by topic. Medicines are spread out on the shelves, there are crutches, a wheelchair, boxes of medicines. A little further - boxes with hygiene products, food, things for the military.
- We are sent completely new things. Look, there are even tags, ”Myron pulls a blue towel from his bag. Next to the packages - blankets, bedspreads, toothbrushes, toys. Mattresses are stacked in the corner almost to the ceiling. - We study the needs of rehabilitation centers and hospitals, if the mattresses are not suitable, we send them to people in need.
' There were times when we unloaded the truck at midnight '
Behind us, volunteers load boxes of medicine on pallets. Preparing to go to the hospital. The boxes are glued with blue and yellow tape.
- If we take into account only the time we are here, it is 13-14 hours a day. If we take into account telephone conversations with donors and recipients, we work around the clock, - says the schedule of work in the Vlad Fund. - Once it was that they unloaded the truck at twelve o'clock at night and agreed on the application at two o'clock. Because there is no time to stretch the process. We need to determine as soon as possible what and where we send.
The underground parking lot serves as a warehouse for the Humanitarian Initiatives. Almost the entire area is filled with boxes with rubber aid - food, clothing, medicines, medicines, etc.
Working in the underground parking lot has its advantages - during the alarm sirens there is no need to hide, because the parking lot itself serves as a reliable shelter, volunteers joke. And the number of people willing to help immediately increases at the expense of residents of the LCD.
- We received the first shipments from Poland. They help us a lot. Large trucks, medicines, food, various equipment arrived. We try to pack and deliver everything as soon as possible. Today we are preparing a car for Okhtyrka. There will be still sending to Nikolaev. We will help with food and things, - says Vladislav, periodically looking at the guys who stack boxes on pallets and take them outside.
- This is a shipment to the hospital. I dropped the offer. They wrote their request and we collected it, - says 30-year-old Khrystyna Karkulevska, coordinator of the medical direction of the charity fund.
Khrystyna Karkulevska is responsible for the fund's medical activities at the Humanitarian Initiatives
' I wanted to help the people, the country, the military '
He is standing next to the car, on which the volunteers are stacking boxes of medicines. Slightly squints from the sun hitting his eyes.
- I didn't believe in full-scale war, - Christina remembers the beginning of full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation. - On the night of February 24, I flew on vacation to Egypt. But there she immediately started looking for flights home. I wanted to come back. I realized that with my knowledge a pharmacist may be needed. I wanted to help the people, the country, the military. She could not sit idly by.
After loading the medication, the woman checks the documents and gives some of them to the driver.
- We have inquiries from Berdyansk hospital as well. We are ready to help, but we are waiting for the "green corridors", - he adds.
Humanitarian Initiatives plan to launch a new project and deliver packages to help the families of internally displaced persons and survivors of the Russian occupation. The package will contain all the essentials.
Volunteers have already prepared the first 200 packages to be sent.
- The help is intended for two or three children and parents, - Christina opens one of the packages and shows its contents. - There is baby food, milk, napkins, baby shampoo. Essentials - toothpaste and brush, and for adults - cereals, buckwheat, rice, canned food. We have antiseptic, gel, shampoo.
- We collect inquiries from territorial communities and with this in mind form packages, - Myron adds. - This is not the final version. It will be improved in the future. We will receive proposals, and we will take them into account according to our capabilities.
Work in the Lviv headquarters of "Humanitarian Initiatives" is "boiling" around the clock. Volunteers accept requests for help, process them. And also - they pack the help received earlier from partners and load it into trucks
The foundation plans to send packages to Kherson. Volunteers are waiting for the "green corridors" to open in the direction of the city.
A man in sunglasses approaches the volunteers. He smiles and shakes hands with everyone. This is one of the founders and current president of the foundation Orest Chebenyak.
- Now everything has moved to a calmer course, - says a man with a slightly audible English accent. - In the first three days (full-scale war. - Gazeta.ua) we had queues of carriers who offered their services. Funds also came