Vinnytsia is a city that, for me personally and, I think, for many, positions itself as a place where the government, community and businesses are able to unite in such acute problems and needs that arise in our city. The war has shown this once again. Since the very first days, we – the Podilska Hromada Foundation, business, and government – we all have united. Moreover, it was both the city administration and the regional administration. We created a joint account and started to collect money in order to support the army. We began to coordinate the displaced persons. That is, there was a huge amount of work that had to be done.
Actually, we were lucky, because there were a lot of different NGOs, initiatives, people who joined, who constantly called: “What should we do?” And so on. A lot of different volunteer centers were created.
Our center immediately began to take care of a huge humanitarian aid. On the basis of the Podilska Hromada, together with the Vinnytsia City Council, we created the Vinnytsia Humanitarian Hub, which received and distributed humanitarian aid. One may think it’s very easy. But in fact, we had to write a lot of letters to our foundation partners, and the Vinnytsia City Council wrote to its partners, to twin cities. That is, we had to keep in touch constantly so that humanitarian aid was brought to us, and we could distribute it.
We had a lot of requests. Accordingly, trucks with the aid began arriving. Businesses helped us with logistics. They provided transportation and premises. By the way, there were different businesses, so it’s hard to name them, as we may forget someone. They also gave their employees to help us. It was a huge anthill that worked 24/7. There were people there all the time. They were constantly sorting and distributing. Of course, first and foremost we provided for the military, everything we could, we knew their needs, and we sent there. And certainly, we did the same for the IDPs, because Vinnytsia was a transit city. A lot of people came here for 1, 2 or 3 nights and went further west. So we had to accommodate them. I say we – but I mean the whole city, because it was really such a synergy. Everyone looked for mattresses, blankets, food, and cooked together. That is, everyone did everything together. And it was also a huge part of the transit city’s work: to make sure we created good conditions at the railway station as well. We constantly took food, mattresses, and blankets there, because people waited for trains, it was winter, and we wanted them to feel more or less comfortable.
So, one of our responsibilities was that humanitarian hub. It works like this. We receive a request from some legal entity: a village council or a public organization. We process the request, see what their most urgent needs are, what we can provide. We call, they come and take it. It was all documented through the act of acceptance and transfer. That was such a separate life, where the team of not only the Podilska Hromada, but also the Vinnytsia City Council worked. There were both the tourism department and the economy department – they all worked together.
Now, of course, we receive smaller amounts of humanitarian aid, and therefore need fewer people. Although much less aid is delivered, we still need it, so we are working on this humanitarian front.
During this time, the humanitarian hub handled, distributed, re-sorted, and sent more than a thousand tons of aid. The aid came from over 34 cities, 17 countries. We are keeping statistics on these deliveries and constantly thanking our partners, looking for new ones, because, as I say, there are still many needs. We taught people to apply and come to us. Everyone knows that they should go to Vinnytsia. But for now, we are looking for such support to the humanitarian front.
Another area of our activities is assistance to the military. We collect funds and buy a lot of things: walkie-talkies and thermal imagers. That is, we try to respond to everything they need upon receipt of funds to our accounts. Almost every weekend, our team representatives travel to the east and south, deliver aid, including from the humanitarian hub, and buy something else. It’s our life now. As for many other people, the war became the epicenter of our activities and work.
We have focused on helping servicemen; they and their needs are always a priority. That is, we continue to collect funds. That is, we take a request from them. As soon as the funds are collected, we buy what is needed, and hand it over to them. And then we take the next request. This is a priority for us.
We are also engaged in rehabilitation in our city. We want rehabilitation to take place in Ukraine. We have two such institutions in Vinnytsia that can help with this, that can definitely provide good rehabilitation services. One for children, the other for adults and the military. That is, we are currently looking for rehabilitation equipment, we are writing various grants, projects to help them become stronger, so that they have more people. So that there is no need to go abroad, because, unfortunately, there are a lot of victims, and we understand that we will not be able to take everyone out or help them. And to create conditions so that they can be rehabilitated properly in the city, I think it is within the power of both the foundation and the city. Therefore, we will search and continue to search.
We are also focused on IDPs. Although we would be happy to hand it over to relevant public organizations to deal with. Because we are also engaged in supporting businesses that have suffered. For example, on July 14, when there was a terrorist attack in Vinnytsia, one of the houses was completely destroyed, and there were more than 50 entrepreneurs there. We issued small grants, and gave 60,000 hryvnias to each entrepreneur, so that they could start resuming their business. It was an emotional, psychological support that they were not left alone.
That is, there are many focuses, there are many needs. We are always open to partnerships, both foreign and those we have in Ukraine. And we will continue working for the victory.
- Ihor Holub, Vinnytsia-based journalist, director of Radio Misto Nad Buhom
- Tetiana Shcherbatiuk, editor-in-chief, I-VIN Info
- Olena Danilova, chair of the board, Podilska Hromada Community Foundation
UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.
If you want to support Ukraine against Russian aggression, check the link with recommendations by Ukraine Crisis Media Center – https://uacrisis.org/en/help-ukraine.
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