АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Nataliia Zadorozhna
7 July 2022
At Cherkasy School №17 volunteers are making stewed meat all day long and sending it to the defenders of Ukraine. This process was initiated by media person Daria Buniakina. For the sake of supporting the soldiers, together with her father, school principal Dmytro Buniakin, they united everyone who was concerned: entrepreneurs, parents and teachers. Exclusively for War Monologues Daria told how they managed to launch this production.
From the first days of the war, we realized that we could not just sit around doing nothing and watching what was happening in our country. We wanted to help in order to bring our victory closer.
A few days after the war broke out, I eagerly started volunteering. Since I have worked as a journalist for a long time, and then in the field of public relations, I have many contacts among the institutions and organizations of Cherkasy, as well as the volunteers.
Then Nataliia Lysenko, mother of one of the students of the Cherkasy Specialized School №17, approached me. She organized the production of stewed meat for our defenders at her own enterprise of semi-finished products “Dancing Duck”. So, she asked me to help with arranging the delivery of it to our defenders.
We worked like this for several days. Nataliia brought the produced products, and I sent food to the boys through my acquaintances and volunteers.
Then I thought that we could expand the team by making food in the school canteen. I approached my father Dmytro, a principal of Cherkasy Specialized School №17, and suggested this idea. So, he made an announcement among the teachers whether they could take part in the production of stewed meat, and then we began the process. We started working in the school canteen on March 9.
By that time, students were on a distance education, so teachers have agreed to help on a volunteer basis.
It is important to point out that our team didn’t have a single professional cook or food organizer, because private entrepreneurs are responsible for food supply in schools. So, in fact, school teachers have become volunteer cooks.
We started collecting products among people and entrepreneurs who were willing to help. So, Private Joint-Stock Company (PrJSC) Myronivsky Hliboproduct (MHP) supplied us with chickens, and one of the student’s parents bought two tons of beef. At first, we established the process of making Bandera-Style chicken, stewed it and sent it in food grade buckets with a capacity of three to five liters.
Nataliia Lysenko provided us with the recipe of stewed meat, as she is really experienced in it. She showed it once, and then the teachers started cooking it on their own.
Every day teachers come to the school, cut, prepare and fill the jars with stewed meat. Since there is no gas in the canteen, and gas is needed for the autoclaves, those teachers who volunteered to set up the autoclaves immediately take them home and continue to cook there.
Besides the meat, we make pastries, sauerkraut, Korean-style carrots, as well as side dishes like pearl barley with meat, rice with vegetables, beetroot, which can be used as a dressing for a side dish, or as a salad, or even spread on bread.
Basically, my father, Dmytro Buniakin, deals with the organization of the process of production in the canteen, cooperation with teachers, and the purchase of meat and products. In fact, he is always here: opens the canteen in the morning and closes it in the evening. Products required for pastries and vegetables are provided by entrepreneurs, parents of our students and preschoolers from Cherkasy kindergartens who are willing to help our production. Someone will bring a kilogram of meat, and someone will bring 100 kilograms, we appreciate everyone’s support. Moreover, we have opened a fundraising bank account for the meat purchase. Once a week, 90 kilograms of meat is handed over to us by the Cherkasy branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “Strong in Faith”. All other days, we purchase meat on our own from the funds that are transferred to our bank account.
I took care of the logistics. In fact, we have established delivery in all directions.
The products are delivered by volunteers with whom I cooperate or know personally, because I have to trust the person and know that the food will definitely reach its destination. However, we help everyone who asks for help, even if we haven’t met before. So, for example, we established cooperation with Mykolaiv volunteers and have been delivering delicious food to defenders there for more than two months.
At first, we sent products mostly to the soldiers. But when the occupied territories were liberated, we began to give food to people from de-occupied cities, such as Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel and other towns and villages of the Kyiv region. People there were hungry, so we packed food kits for them, which included one liter of stewed meat, a liter of sauerkraut, pies, Easter bread, bread, pieces of lard, smoked chickens and balyk. In the same way, we helped people from Sumy, Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions.
The most difficult period was when there were eight or nine deliveries per day which involved a large number of people. We want to lend a helping hand to everyone, and despite the fact that it was physically very difficult, we managed to do it.
On the eve of Easter, we baked 1,300 loaves of Easter bread in 6 days. I usually don’t have time to count the amount of the production, but the day before the holiday I managed to do it. There were eight non-stop deliveries, and they were not a box for each or two boxes of stew, but cars full of it.
We expect to provide at least one jar of stewed meat per person. If there are not many soldiers, then it is possible to allocate two jars to each of them. But, for example, if there are 500 people, then we physically cannot hand over two jars to them, it turns out at least half a jar per person. But we still try to add rice with vegetables or pearl barley with meat to the stew, as well as bread that we bake ourselves so that they have a complete ration.
From the very beginning of the project, I kept count of the finished products that we have delivered, but when it turned into a huge scale, I just couldn’t keep up with it. However, now I think I am going to finally count everything.
We processed more than 10 tons of meat for stew. Nataliia Lysenko, entrepreneur, also provides us with huge support. Her production in autoclaves produces pearl barley with meat, rice with vegetables, homemade sausages and lard with spices. Before that, together with their workers, they prepared smoked chickens and balyk, made stew meat, baked buns with cabbage and made Korean-style carrots.
First of all, we should take care of our soldiers. We are grateful that they protect our country and thanks to this we can live here in peace and cook for them. A great belief in victory inspires everyone. I am sure that we should make every effort to bring victory closer. That’s why we started the production in order to provide our defenders with tasty food.
We also had the idea to write messages to the soldiers on the jars: “Dear soldier! Please return the jar personally. We are waiting for you at Cherkasy School №17!” So when the defenders come to us, teachers are just crying. Or when they write to us, convey words of gratitude, or simply return jars with the help of volunteers – it is very inspiring.
The main goal of such a message is to encourage them to return home with victory as soon as possible, safe and sound. What about jars, we can always find new ones. We are really happy to see them, hear their feedback about the food, that it tastes good and that they aren’t hungry.
This motivates our team to work further, every day, from early morning till late at night.
I am sincerely grateful to our team, every teacher, technicians, and everyone who helped us with the cooking. I am grateful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who protect us.
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: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Nataliia Zadorozhna
“In someone else’s house, without a basement, I brought my children to their death – that was what echoed in my head as I was crying my eyes out” – the story of a woman who, together with her children, escaped from occupied Kherson