АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Hanna Dzhyhaliuk
13 July 2022
Helping people has always been the number one priority for Vitalii Radchenko. Back in peacetime, together with a friend, they provided charitable assistance to children. When the full-scale war began, their Non-governmental organization “Sich” became not just a place you could come for help, but a large, close-knit family. As ambitious and professional as the co-founders, they have established several areas of assistance to the military and civilians. Find out below what the NGO “Sich” does.
We founded the NGO “Sich” together with my friend Illia Yastreb. We have always had an active civic position, that is why we have founded an organization to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, especially vulnerable, unprotected members of society. We began in 2010. At first, we provided assistance based on a charitable foundation. At that time, we mainly helped children with cancer, children with disabilities, and children’s sports organizations. And then, in 2021, we founded the NGO “Sich”.
Before we did it I had been an entrepreneur. I have a higher education, am a graduate of the Lviv branch of the Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts, Faculty of Management and Business.
When the war began, I realized I couldn’t stay at home. I wanted to join the territorial defense, but because there were queues I decided to go on with the volunteer movement.
We were just working. During the first three weeks of the war we were sleeping around 3-4 hours, and working almost around the clock. We were renting a little office, which was the beginning of it all. At first we provided the territorial defense with everything they needed. Girls were weaving camouflage nets right in the corridors, everyone was excited to work. There were thoughts that the enemy would come in a few days, so we had to help the territorial defense as much as we could. We equipped roadblocks, strategic objects, and our volunteers helped dig trenches and build dugouts together with the soldiers.
Then we established a metal welding workshop. In Cherkasy we have a forged bird clock that decorates the Valley of Roses. We found its makers, agreed on the cooperation and signed a memorandum. Then we launched the welding of anti-tank and anti-car hedgehogs, and the production of staples. We provided them with metal, and they did the job. In this way, up to three thousand staples were given to the guys to strengthen the dugouts of one of Cherkasy’s strategic objects.
“We made so many Molotov cocktails that you could cover the Moscow region with them”.
When we prepared the city for defense, we realized that everything here was set up, so we proceeded to help the military.
During this time, we had already expanded a little, we were allowed to occupy the second floor, the number of volunteers, ideas, and opportunities for their implementation have grown. We currently have approximately 150 volunteers and this number is constantly growing. We care about each other. We make sure there’s food and clothing.
I’ve set the priority for myself and will not turn my back on it. We will work until the end. We will maintain the volunteer front for as long as it is necessary.
We have a production of trench potbelly stoves and trench candles. A trench candle is an ordinary can of peas or other canned food, which is lined with cardboard and filled with wax. You can set it on fire and get three to four hours of heat, boil tea, cook food. You can put a kettle on it, pour some dry borsch and prepare a hot meal.
That’s how we launched the “Sich borsch” project: we make dried borsch, other soups. We started preparing dried fruits, they are nutritious, you can put them in your pocket and snack on them.
In addition to weaving camouflage nets, we have another direction – making sniper camouflage suits or “chimeras”. We hand them over exclusively to special units for snipers. This is very painstaking work, you need endurance and patience to create such a product. But the girls who do it are inspired by the gratitude of our soldiers. Someone will come to the rotation, say “thank you”, or hand over the flag. This motivates them to work further.
We created the Voluntary formation “Sich”, this is our force unit, which is based on our organization. Its commander is Rostyslav Kononenko.
There, men have the opportunity to train, practice tactics, and learn other things several times a week. In addition, they are involved in guarding all the objects of our organization and in transport security. The guys from the Voluntary Formation provide support in the transportation of large loads, so that they are delivered to their destination on time and in full stock.
Also, the NGO “Sich” sews first-aid kits for the military and fills them with medicines according to standards, then hands them over to the soldiers. In addition, we’ve sewed uniforms for our Volunteer formation, and also, upon requests from military units, we hand over uniforms to defenders.
Our volunteers also make cigarettes for the military. We find the tobacco, buy the casings and make them ourselves. For the entire time of volunteering, we’ve made more than 100 thousand cigarettes and given them to the soldiers. This is important for the guys, because it is very difficult to do without it. So we try to constantly supply them with cigarettes.
We have greatly developed our international activities. Currently, our public organization is cooperating with twenty countries. Japan has recently joined the list as the twentieth. The other day we received the first humanitarian aid from this country. We also cooperate with Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, the USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain and others.
We deliver humanitarian goods to the military and civilians in the de-occupied territories. For the most part, these are grocery sets, hygiene products, baby food, and diapers. When Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kyiv regions were liberated, there was a huge humanitarian disaster there, all the shops were destroyed or closed. There were problems with drinking water.
“Canada gave us survival kits, which included several types of cereals, pasta and water purification capsules”.
On the territory of Donbas and Mykolaiv there is a very big problem with water, so for these regions such help was very important.
At the international level, we cooperate with charitable foundations and we have already won the first American grant – humanitarian aid. We also have a hostel for displaced people and we want to equip it with grant money, so we have very ambitious goals. Fifteen internally displaced people are currently living there, and we provide them with free housing, food and medicine. We provide for them, and they help our organization as volunteers.
NGO “Sich” already has eight functional centers throughout the country: in Lviv, Uzhgorod, Kharkiv, Sumy, Kyiv, Lutsk, and in Smila and Vatutin. We constantly provide for 35 military units. Received and helped 3,246 displaced persons. Made 2841 units of metal products.
Our volunteers have made 230 camouflage nets, the area of which reaches one and a half hectares, the size of two football fields.
I’m from the Sumy region, a city of Romny, and I have a family there: my dad, mom and my little brother Dmytro, who just turned sixteen. I really wanted to go there, to defend my land, my family, and my home. But I made a hard choice to stay in Cherkasy, although it was difficult to accept that they are there and I’m here. I knew I had to do it, because here in Cherkasy we can do so many important things for our victory. I’ve been living here for seven years and it immediately won me over: the magnificent Dnipro river, fantastic citizens. Cherkasy became my second home. Soon I managed to get my brother to come here, but our parents stayed in Romny. We keep in touch and support each other all the time.
I am proud of our team of volunteers. I see how faithfully they work, not feeling sorry for themselves, not forgetting that the war is going on, ready to give away the last thing they have, so that the guys at the front have everything. We are working side by side 24/7.
Ideological and patriotic people have gathered here, we have no weaklings here, they simply do not linger in our team. For me, “Sich” is a big, close-knit family. We put in a lot of effort because we understand how much good we have already done and can still do.
For a long time, we had an irregular schedule, without days off. Now, when the work has been somewhat stabilized, the powers have been distributed, more time for personal things has begun to appear. We are a self-sufficient organization, we do not depend on anyone and can continue to develop and become stronger. Our main goal is victory.
It scares me when people start to get used to the war and live a normal life, I don’t understand that. Every day our soldiers die, it is in our power to help them save their life and our country.
I am convinced that if every person, no matter where they are, in Ukraine or abroad, made maximum effort to win, we would win faster. Yes, there are problems with deliveries from Europe, with weapons, but we must try to involve as many people as possible in joint work. We even have volunteers who are citizens of the USA and Canada. They say that almost nothing is now reported about us in their news, everyone is already used to it.
“Our team needs volunteers. We are strong, professional and idea-driven, but we need to be strengthened by new people, so we could help even more”.
We all have to get involved. If not with volunteering, then with money. For example, to provide the soldiers with walkie-talkies or elementary knee pads, or simply to buy energy bars. Every little bit helps.
I believe that our Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and our President Volodymyr Zelenskyi aim to win as soon as possible. We have to support them and believe in our 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: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Hanna Dzhyhaliuk