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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Olena Hanzyuk

    “I don’t expect gratitude, I see it in people‘s eyes,” the story of a woman from Kyiv who actively volunteers even in the occupied territories


    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk

    5 August 2022

    30-year-old Olena Hanzyuk from Kyiv helps people in the occupied territories. A woman always finds opportunities and resources to do this. Her help consists in collecting funds for some urgent needs. She says that people who need her support come across her path, so volunteering is her calling. Olena told the “Monologues of the War” project about helping a boy who was fighting a terrible disease, collecting medicine in occupied Kherson, and her work in general.

    I am a very open person by nature. Well, absolutely. I love people and like to help them, even if it is not really needed. I always want to add value to people’s lives, to improve any situation. Moreover, I always believe that life is a boomerang and that doing good deeds is necessary and valuable. That is why I always trust everyone, absolutely and undoubtedly.

    Before the war, I had a very busy and active life. I have two delightful children, to whom I gave all my time, and in between, I was engaged in my favorite work – my own brand of organic cosmetics and my own brand of soy candles. It inspired me and motivated me to move on. In addition, I also volunteered with a little boy who was fighting a terrible disease. My assistance consisted of helping his parents raise an enormous sum for his treatment. Not everyone has the ability and resources, and treatment currently requires a lot of investment. Some people need help, and I cannot stand aside from someone else’s trouble.

    The war for me started with phone calls

    On February 24, I was supposed to go to a meeting that was scheduled for 10:00, but I woke up much earlier due to an incredible number of calls. My sister was the first to call, I picked up the phone, and she told me: “Lena, go to our mother, the war has started.” I thought that I didn‘t hear it right, I asked again and she repeated the same thing.

    Then a rhetorical question: How? 21st century, civilization, what kind of war can there be at all? I quickly began to scour the Internet and read the news to check whether it was true, maybe fake, maybe someone misunderstood something?! But no, all the resources and links said that russia attacked Ukraine, shelling, rockets, traffic jams and a lot of people ran to safe places.

    I have never seen so many cars in a traffic jam from my window! For the first time in my life, I was so afraid of children. First of all, for them. Not for myself, but for the children. Our house was located near Zhulyany airport, and even then I knew that airports were being destroyed. And it can fly right to us.

    Elena's children

    Elena with her children

    A week before the start of the war, everyone was advised to pack an alarming suitcase. I collected this back on February 15. But when you realize that there is a war in your country and you have to go to a safe place with two children and a pet, panic mode is activated… On the one hand, there is great pain for the country and fear for the family. On the other hand, hatred and rage, an incredible desire to help our people and destroy uninvited guests.

    I wanted to run and save everyone, but first of all, I am a mother and I had to protect my children. We went to my mother, she also lives in Kyiv. The first week was spent there. My children have never been in the basement. When they heard the explosions I did not scare them, I told them that nothing terrible was happening and everything would be fine with us. I reassured them as much as I could, but I understood that now, instead of the sonorous laughter of friends, my children are forced to hear explosions and the whistling of rockets.

    Collection of humanitarian aid

    This is what my apartment looks like when I collect humanitarian aid

    I did not stop volunteering and opened my first military collection for the father of a man who was going to the front with his team.

    The gathering was emotionally difficult, but I closed it in 5 days and couldn’t be happier that we have such incredible Ukrainians! A nation that is willing to give its money, and resources to the aid of our people, to protect us from the enemy.

    The yard of a family from the village of Peremoga

    Photo of the yard of one family from the village Peremoga. My friends were there during the occupation

    I don’t have a policy of collecting requests, a database, or anything like that, I just feel in my heart who needs help. Most likely, this is my vocation in life, because such people themselves come across my path. They believe in me, and I believe in them and do everything to help as much as possible! Each time they donate differently. But the fact is that people are tired and I understand them. But the Ukrainians always donate! And we always close collections.

    The people to whom I opened collections are all incredible, absolutely all of them

    Survive what they experienced, what trials befell them, and not give up – only incredible people can!

    For example, I can tell one story. A girl from Kherson contacted me to collect money for her mother’s treatment because now there is just a horror … Her mother cried at night because of the pain and only hoped that one day the pain would go away. But her daughter did not give up, even being in occupied Kherson, she wrote to me and we opened a collection. We closed it in 2-3 days.

    Read also: Combat medic Bohdan Zhuravel about rescuing people after a rocket attack on Vinnytsia: “People who were at the epicenter of these events were burned to the ground”

    Then I collected money for treatment for the injured woman from Mariupol, it was generally terrible there. The girl lost her mother, and her husband, only her daughter remained and nothing and no one else. Everything was destroyed, they barely survived in the Drama Theater, where they hid from shelling and the occupiers. By a real miracle, they reached the capital, where they also accidentally ran into me.

    Medicines for people from Mariupol

    Medicines for a woman from Mariupol

    Then I collected on a kneader to be able to bake bread for people, in large quantities and take it to the villages, along with a lot of humanitarian aid sent to me by people, relatives, neighbors… I have many stories, but they are all too painful, even to describe them…

    When I help people, I don’t expect thanks or any kind of feedback, I see in their eyes what they feel, sometimes tears of joy do not allow them to say a word, but everything is visible in their eyes.

    Appreciation of people for food

    And this is how people  thanked us in Andriivka for bringing them bread and food

    But all the same, many people write and thank me, are proud of me, and take me as an example. It warms my soul, I am glad that we have such people. Of course, there are those who can write something negative, but they are few. I just wish them not to go through what the people I help went through!

    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: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk


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