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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Lyubov Zdorovenko

    «We must become a reliable rear for the Armed Forces of Ukraine»: how pensioners from Cherkasy set up a zero-waste sewing production and help defenders


    АвторAuthor: Inna Molchanova | Translation: Diana Bevtsyk

    3 September 2022

    Blankets and pillows, underwear, bedding, balaclavas, bandanas, t-shirts, shorts and first aid kit bags. This is far from the entire list of things that Cherkasy pensioners sew with their caring hands. They will find a use for every piece of fabric because they have created zero-waste production. All in order to help everyone who applies. They started by weaving camouflage nets for the front. And now they dress not only the defenders, but also the settlers and send things to the hospital. Lyubov Zdorovenko, head of the Charitable Organization “Volunteers of the Dnipro” Charitable Foundation, told “Monologues of the War” about how the sewing industry was established.

    At first, we helped the front as volunteers of the Committee of Self-Organization of the Population of the “Dniprovskiy” Microdistrict. Later, we reorganized and created the Charity Foundation “Volunteers of the Dnipro Region”. Our committee has been helping defenders since 2014. We negotiated with farms and collected vegetables.

    It was already late autumn, so we were even picking frozen cabbage. We soured it, baked pies, cooked dumplings and sent all this to the front through volunteers.

    We made a vitamin mixture from nuts. We added honey, ginger and lemon to it. All this was ground, poured into tubes and sealed with a special iron. We also prepared a mixture with lard and garlic. It was very convenient. The defenders took a piece of bread, smeared lard from a tube and could have a nutritious snack. Tubes for this mixture were delivered to us from Kharkiv. We made thousands of them. On Easter, our team painted and baked Easter eggs. We sent 300 of them. We had two electric ovens for cooking. Later, we already agreed and kneaded the dough in the committee and baked near , at the school.

    Camouflage nets from Dniprovskiy volunteers

    “Volunteers of the Dniprovskiy” weave camouflage nets for soldiers

    Since then, we have knitted a lot of socks. Yarn was brought to us by those who cared. If it was not enough, we sold old things or bought second-hand ones. We sewed camouflage suits, wove kikimora and cut insoles. By order of our snipers, gloves with two fingers were woven to make shooting convenient.

    How the sewing industry was organized

    Today we weave camouflage nets and make kikimora. And, of course, we continue to sew many things for defenders, settlers and for the wounded who are being treated in hospitals.  Yes, we sew sintepon blankets and pillows. Sintepon for pillows was brought to us from the remains of raw materials from the furniture factory. We chose larger pieces and stitched them together. But the top was sewn from pieces of furniture fabric, filled with sintepon. Quite warm blankets came out. 

    Pillows were sewn from two, four, and even six parts. Over the years, more than 10,000 pillows have been sewn. Mostly grandmothers worked, but women and girls also came. They took fabric and sewed it at home or here. Even now, we have five craftsmen who sew these pieces at home.

    Currently, we are already purchasing sintepon. The Nebaiduzhi (Concerned) International Charitable Foundation helped us a lot. They won a grant and bought us sintepon, fabric, and knitwear. Then, from this fabric, we sewed several types of bedding sets, shorts for men in the hospital. And now we sew pillowcases from this fabric.

    Volunteer sewing workshop

    In a small workshop, they work on four sewing machines

    We also make travel neck pillows. We sew balaclavas, bandanas, T-shirts, shorts, underpants and first aid kit bags. We sew such bags from pieces of fabric. Nothing goes to waste. We also sew nightgowns, tank tops and dresses for bed-patient women. If requested, we sew covers for sleeping bags, seat mats for tankers. Such work became possible because in 2020 we won the public budget and last year we were given permission. We bought four sewing machines.

    Until then, we used old sewing machines brought by residents. We wanted to create a social workshop to help people. We could shorten curtains, pants or sew a pillowcase. When the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law “On Restricting the Circulation of Plastic Bags on the Territory of Ukraine”, we decided to sew eco bags from fabric. At the same time, we used the remnants of fabric that could not be used anywhere else. We also sewed handbags and wallets from jeans and furniture fabric waste. When the coronavirus epidemic began, we sewed more than 10,000 masks.

    Bedding for defenders

    A volunteer sews pillowcases for defenders

    We always say that we have zero-waste production. Nothing is lost in our workshop.

    Who helps

    But it is difficult for us, because we do not have our own finances. If now we need to buy a net or the same synthetic material, then we again seek help from people. Now we buy synthetic resin in Dnipropetrovsk. We agreed that when we picked up the synthepone, I would immediately transfer funds. We are also looking for volunteers, who travel along the way, for delivery.

    When the full-scale war began, it was very difficult to get the basis for camouflage nets. Ordinary citizens and fishermen brought us a lot. Talking about fabric is also very difficult. We mainly sew together from pieces, and agree on waste from the furniture factory. If they bring us larger pieces, camouflage, then we sew material for first aid kits. The fabric pixel is very expensive these days, so it’s hard to come by.

    Procurement of sewing materials

    Women prepare material from pieces of fabric

    We were lucky enough to purchase an electric slitting knife. When there was nothing to cut, I wrote a post on the social network asking for help. Caring people responded. Andriy Bilda gave us part of the money for the knife. The next day I bought a knife and now Iryna Pavlivna cuts with it. This makes the work much faster. We needed a sewing machine, ordinary citizens also helped us to purchase it.

    They come alone and then involve their friends and acquaintances

    Currently, more than a hundred volunteers work in our charity organization. They come alone and the next time they come with someone else. There are those who sew at home and then bring it. These are mostly young people. And in general, the core of permanent volunteers are elderly women and pensioners. They live by their work and communication.

    When there is a holiday or someone’s birthday, grandmothers gather and celebrate. We understand that these are people of respectable age. They want not only to help, but also to be with people, in a team. People come here even after work. There were teachers who came after classes. They appreciate our team. For many, it is a second family. Recently, the mayor of Cherkassy, Anatoly Bondarenko, thanked all our volunteers. They are pleased to do a useful deed, and this is very important nowadays.

    In the morning the work is in full swing

    My day starts at half past eight every day. Before the women come, I quickly solve organizational matters. I have such a character that I cannot stay at home. I am 66 years old and I still embroider with beads. However, this year I haven’t started beading yet, although I have a lot of blanks. I also gave away many paintings. I have something to do. But personally, I don’t understand how you can sit on a bench and do nothing. This is wild for me.

    Before retirement, I worked at Khimreaktiv. I am a mechanical engineer by education. I first started as an accountant, but I could not sit still for a long time. I always wanted constant movement and an active life. I am used to being among people, creating something and realizing a number of ideas.

    My daughter Maryna also helps me: she posts information about the work of our charitable organization on Facebook. She asks for help in case of need. In general, our family constantly helped the state. When the Chernobyl disaster happened, my cousin and brother went there to eliminate the accident. Although they are no longer alive, I still constantly speak according to their words: “And who, if not us?”.

    Read also: Olena Trutneva: “What we saw cannot be described with words. It was like a scary movie about the end of the world”

    My husband is not there either. He was also from Chernobyl. I also head the Separate Division of the All-Ukrainian public organization of the disabled “Union of Chernobyl of Ukraine – Widows of Chernobyl”.

    In general, helping is difficult both mentally and physically. But we cannot sit by and just watch how our defenders win freedom for us. We have to become a reliable rear for them. Therefore, we will continue our work.

    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: Diana Bevtsyk


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