Almost Four years into Russia’s war, Ukrainian front Line volunteers still play crucial role

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International Volunteer Day was marked all over the world on December 5th. In Ukraine, this movement has been especially active after Euromaidan and since the beginning of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Thousands of people are helping soldiers defending the territorial integrity of the country, as well as IDPs, who fled from war.

Natalia used to be a director of marketing in a pharmaceutical company, a successful businesswoman. Her whole life was revolving around her work and children:

“I was living a completely different life. I was a shopaholic. I had children to take care of. They had one day off on Sunday. I was a member of two-parent committees. I had a lot of work. I started volunteering on Euromaidan, where I brought medicine and food.”

After Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine began, Natalia started helping the wounded in hospitals. She says that in 2014 the soldiers lacked everything, from food and medicine to warm clothing and armored vests:

“When I came close to the front line for the first time, I was scared. People at the checkpoint yelled at us to turn off the car lights. For me, a delicate girl from the outside, so to speak, it was a light shock.”

Now, the army is well-equipped, Natalia says. Recently, they have been bringing only what the soldiers ask for. She also adds that what they often need is simple communication and attention:

“Our visits were a great joy for the soldiers. They still are a joy for them. Now they tell us not to bring anything, just to come”

Volunteering takes almost all of her time. Natalia admits — the only thing she regrets is missing important events in the life of her children. However, people’s kindness keeps her inspired:

“I got a text from people in Donetsk, who transferred money to my card. They wrote: we are transferring money to repair the guys’ car. Tell them that we are waiting for them in Donetsk. This was the most heartfelt and touching thing that happened there in all this time.”

According to the Razumkov Center of Economic and Political Studies, around 20 percent of Ukrainians are involved in volunteering in 2017. Four years ago, there were only 5 percent.

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