АвторAuthor: Iryna Semenova | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
18 May 2022
The world community calls Ukraine a country of volunteers and jokes that these people are able to get anything from a unicorn’s horn to a dragon’s ear. Since the beginning of the war, several dozen omnipotent Yuzhny volunteers have been helping the army, displaced persons, and delivering and distributing humanitarian aid to other cities. The volunteer headquarters in Yuzhny is headed by Ilya Yurchenko.
I have worked as the head of several condominiums for a long time, so uniting and organizing is a job I am used to. But, of course, I didn’t expect that I would have to organize such a large number and at the same time create various technical processes – from collecting housing for migrants to buying spare parts for defense equipment and even a suit for a helicopter.
Within a month of the war, it became clear that the main needs were assistance to the territorial defense and the army (In the Yuzhny, with the active participation of volunteers under the leadership of Ilya Yurchenko, a detachment of 550 territorial defenders was formed, coordinated by an individual in the volunteer headquarters, – ed. Note).
“Works in headquarters 18 curators, each of whom organizes the work a certain direction”
When citizens from hot spots of Ukraine start coming to our city, it is necessary to choose humanitarian aid for them or, for example, our people now provide hot food to those who come to the railway station in Odessa, and also deliver humanitarian aid to those in difficult life situations.
About 30 people visit the Yuzhny every day. Most are in transit to other regions and abroad, but some are still registered as immigrants. We have created a register of people who are ready to take people to apartments for free, either for a nominal fee or for utilities. There are also social infrastructure facilities where we receive migrants. Unfortunately, at first these places were not ready to receive people, because they were cold gyms with mats. But thanks to their own connections, they managed to find beds at the recreation center in Koblevo, as well as mattresses, pillows, bedding, humanitarian aid and relocate people from the Kherson region.
And there was an urgent need to purchase drugs. To do this, we establish international relations, cooperation with business, government, keep in touch with the regional volunteer headquarters. For those residents of the Yuzhny who want to be useful, organized first aid training, arranged places for weaving nets, a shop for sewing unloading vests and plate holdersm for the military. In short, there are currently 18 curators working in the headquarters, each of whom organizes work in a certain area.
Experience has also shown that there is a need for volunteer patrols and a 24-hour volunteer control room; people who are responsible for security and verification of information and their own telegram channel to inform the public. For example, volunteer patrols. Markings on houses and roads, infrared beacons, detected people in the fields, drones flying over the city or in the suburbs – all this we detect and use before the information of the police and SBU. I know for sure that the people they found in the sabotage were detained.
We also keep a register of territorial defenders and displaced persons, and a database of people willing to provide housing. Now we plan to hire a psychologist.
“Some of the donations were impressive. I really cried because we immediately closed a very important meeting for the Armed Forces”
Where do we get the money for all this? We cover organizational and logistical needs with our own resources. We drive our cars, refuel them ourselves. The purchases needed for the army were collected through philanthropists and caring Yuzhny. Some donations were simply impressive. One day, $ 5,000 in cash was brought to headquarters from a man who wished to remain anonymous. The only thing I know is that his name is Oleg. I really just cried because we immediately closed a very important meeting for the Armed Forces. In general, in the first days we collected huge sums. They bought chainsaws, generators for military vehicles, and tablets for special forces. There were a lot of needs and all purchases were very expensive. Very small sums are being received now, which is understandable: people have run out of resources, many have lost their jobs or stopped working, and families need to be fed. So now we collect very precisely, for a specific need.
The difficulty here was that the first two weeks after the start of the large-scale invasion, Nova Poshta did not work, so all our purchases were limited to Yuzhny, Odesa, and a maximum of the region. The 7th kilometer market did not work at all, but due to personal connections it was possible to go to those who had warehouses and buy what they needed. For example, sandbags. At first we looked for them in 10, 20 pieces in stores, bought everything that was on UkrPoshta. And then I called an acquaintance and managed to agree with him on the purchase of 5,000 bags from the warehouse. Thus it was possible to provide not only the city, but also all vicinities.
All information, especially on expensive procurement, we carefully check: whether there is a real need and how urgent it is. Some purchases are for special operations, such as finding special equipment for the military or transporting a refugee in a wheelchair. We already have our own warehouses not only in Ukraine, but also in Poland, and now it is almost a habit for me and my colleagues to coordinate procurement and logistics throughout our country and abroad.
“We have assembled a team that largely ensures the viability of the city, so we would like to preserve this human potential for the development of the Yuzhny and in peacetime”
I know exactly what I will do after our victory. I’ll sleep! And then we want to gather all our volunteers, celebrate and continue our work in a peaceful life. We have now assembled a team that largely ensures the viability and defense of the city, so we would like to preserve this human potential for the development of Yuzhne OTG in peacetime. right now I want to say a huge “thank you” to all those fantastic people who, sacrificing their work, time for families, health and even sleep, do so much for our common VICTORY!
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Iryna Semenova | Translation: Iryna Myronenko