This year, Ukrainians had the opportunity to celebrate winter holidays only thanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. These men and women are now at the hot spots of the frontline. However, any army has to rely on a powerful home front: people who are collecting money for sleeping bags and drones, reminding foreigners about the war, and helping fellow citizens on the liberated territories to rebuild their houses.
For 9 months, the Centre of United Actions collected stories about such people in the Person to Person podcast. Here we will tell some of them.
Man from Tajikistan who created an application to help Ukrainians
Nekbakt Zabirov moved to Ukraine in 2019. At that time, he was following the presidential campaign and was impressed that in Ukraine anyone can run for the presidency and be elected without any election fraud. In Tajikistan, he did not see the same.
“No offense to Tajikistan. It is, actually, a nice country. I just did not like its political landscape. Even as a child, I loved freedom. I saw democracy in movies and wanted it in my own country. It was problematic since the politics in Tajikistan is peculiar. At 16, I saved enough money to leave Tajikistan forever. I still never returned there. I visited Valencia, Cyprus, Dublin — many places. I looked for a new home and found it in Ukraine,” says Nek.
Nekbakt settled in Lviv, learned Ukrainian, got a job. After Russia started a full-scale attack against his new home, he did not stay aside. The man is working at a D2 IT company. After the full-scale invasion, he and his team launched a Handy Friends bot in Telegram and Viber in order to help Ukrainians abroad.
This chatbot provides information about countries where you are now or where you plan to move: get legal advice from other Ukrainians, suggestions about where to find accommodation, recommendations about a kindergarten in a particular city, etc.
“I was very proud of Ukrainians because a lot of requests were not about getting a refugee status or financial support that some countries like Poland or Germany provided. Many requests were about finding a job because our people want to work. They do not want to be, using a Russian word, nakhlebniks (parasites),” says the man.
Here you can listen to the story of Nekbakt and other people who are fighting for victory on the IT front.
Barber from Vinnytsia oblast who collects money for drones
Tetiana Sinitska from Khmilnyk, Vinnytsia oblast, is that person who in your Instagram stories regularly asks whether you have already donated to the military. Before the full-scale invasion, she was just cutting people’s hair and never volunteered.
During the ten months, Tania already concluded over 20 successful campaigns for the benefit of the Armed Forces, including the procurement of cars and drones. She is busy with these campaigns almost non-stop. Although this is very tiring for this girl, she does not stop.
“Now there are much fewer donations than at the beginning of the full-scale war. However, we still get some. People do not forget, they donate. Maybe not as actively as I wished but I am infinitely grateful to people who are preparing vitamin smoothies, sew heaters, and knit socks. This is really incredible,” says the volunteer.
Tania actively engages social media and regularly provokes people for small actions: for example, to donate 10 hryvnias. If each subscriber donates even only 10 hryvnias — a sum insufficient even to buy a good coffee in any raion center — our soldiers will still get a car or thermographic camera that are so important today.
Before the full-scale war, this completely “civilian” girl had no idea that she would visit the east of Ukraine and acquire real knowledge of military equipment. Today, though, she is holding our volunteering front.
Listen to the history of Tania and other volunteers from Khmilnyk.
Charity standups and concerts in Cherkasy
While in the spring Ukrainians were disputing whether it is morally justifiable to attend concerts, Denys Haida in Cherkasy already organized charitable events to collect money for the military. With his HaidaFest agency, he had organized cultural events even before the full-scale war. Now, he monetized this experience for the benefit of the Armed Forces.
Together with his team, Denys organized charity concerts where Tember Blanche, Sasha Chemerov, and Kimnata Grenthen performed. Also, HaidaFest helped the Kozak System band to organize a street concert that brought 65 thousand hryvnias for the military.
“I had no doubt whether concerts are appropriate in wartime. I had some doubts about standup, though. After I watched several streams, I understood that we had a number of new subjects to joke about: the hate against Russians, jokes about volunteering. So in fact we need to joke about all this. Especially when many people switch to content in Ukrainian. We need to popularize not only music but standup too,” thinks Denys.
During nine months the team organized 14 charity standups — much more than an average oblast center has. From 10 to 30 percent of the profit from each event was donated to the Armed Forces.
Listen to the story of Denys and other people from Cherkasy oblast who holds the youth front
Site encouraging foreigners to buy Ukrainian goods
Site Leleka Support was created by media specialists Anastasiia and Anton from Kyiv and Ruslan from Kharkiv. They were inspired by an international campaign engaging the rent service Airbnb. After the full-scale war started, many foreigners started to book accommodation in Ukraine although they did not actually intend to use it. They just wanted to support Ukrainians. Anastasiia thought that maybe foreigners would also be glad to support Ukrainian businesses and at the same time receive some high-quality goods. As a result, the site was created to offer foreigners to buy something Ukrainian.
“We started to ask Ukrainian businesses to send ask lists of their goods. They asked whether they should include our commission in the prices or if it would be done by us. They were very surprised when we answered that our site is a charity. Later businesses that had not yet sold anything via our site offered us some presents. We asked them to wait first until someone buys something via Leleka,” — tells Anton.
The site offers to buy various goods: clothes, toys, food, decor, and cosmetics. The most popular among foreigners are socks with Ukrainian motifs, jewelry, wooden toys, and candles. Many buyers are from the US and Latvia. About 20% of buyers later return and make a second or third order.
“Recently, we had an unusual order. An American buyer ordered a large number of products from us: from a blanket and a pillow to jewelry and a silk mask. And asked to personally deliver it to a close person in Kyiv. We gladly did it. We bought a large wooden hamper, a Christmas-style bouquet with needles, decorated everything beautifully and delivered to the required address,” — says Anastasiia.
Leleka is a way of volunteering for the team. The site does not take a commission from manufacturers, its only goal is to make foreigners learn about Ukrainian businesses and support them. As a result — the economy and the entire country.
Listen to an episode about Leleka and other important projects.
Project telling foreigners about Ukraine
When MPs of Switzerland were deciding whether to impose sanctions against Russia, Ukrainians prepared for them special information bulletins explaining why the sanctions are important. This work was done by a project team of the Share the Truth initiative started by an organization’s growth consultant Maryana Zaviyska with her colleague.
The team prepares daily briefs with the news of Ukraine concerning security issues. They are translated into English and 16 other languages: not only European but also Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic. The news is available in PDF format so anyone can print it and distribute it among foreigners at public events, put it in a mailbox, or show it to neighbors.
A very popular one, in particular, is a Japanese version since there are not that many Ukrainians in Japan. Instead of waiting while some other people will tell the story about Ukraine, Ukrainians are doing this themselves.
“For many foreigners, Ukraine remains an unknown country. They are not familiar with our cultural, economic, and historic context. Many people still need to grasp the foundations. They do not need some detailed analytics but just the overview of what our country is about,” explains Maryana.
The volunteers publish bulletins on particular issues on their site. For example, about Ukrainian art, the energy sector, business, etc.
Listen to the story of Maryana and other volunteers.
Person to Person podcast is about the stories of volunteers from 24 communities in 14 oblasts of Ukraine. Some of them were quite far from the frontline but their inhabitants still joined their efforts to support the military and IDPs. Some communities survived a siege or occupation and now are rebuilding themselves and volunteering. You can listen to our podcast on Youtube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify.
Podcast episodes on Apple and Google Podcasts are available for download so you can listen to them online during power shortages.
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