Since 2014 volunteer networks in Ukraine have been formed on the basis of public movement and institutional experience of public organizations. At the same time they were free and mobile, sometimes involving several organizations in their movement and sometimes none, building whole projects on trust and leadership of the activists’ network involved. Volunteer networks have always been one step ahead pointing the vector of movement and highlighting ideas for projects.
With start of the russian-Ukrainian war in 2014 new priorities emerged with YMCA-Lviv: reintegration of veterans and assistance to IDP in Lviv. Accordingly, the structure, projects and partners were adapted. Escalation of the russian-Ukrainian war in February 2022 intensified the interaction of the volunteer environment to rapidly respond to a new threat – the occupation of Ukraine by russian troops. Part of our team – Yurko Vovkohon (YMCA-Lviv manager), Oleksandr Yabchanka (volunteer and organization consultant), Serhiy Badiuk (singer in the Opera-Myth “Ukraine – Terra Incognita”), Oleh Koliasa (volunteer and development consultant), Orest Hnidets (Opera-Myth logistics coordinator), Vitaliy Bokhniak (YMCA-Europe and YMCA-Kyiv) joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine; Opera director Uliana Horbachevska started a series of master classes on Ukrainian traditional singing in Europe and concerts together with Polish jazzman Ryszard Lyatetski to assist military needs on the frontline, Opera singers and actresses Sofia Leshyshak and Kateryna Smirnova volunteered for IDP shelters and supported a fundraising campaign for their colleagues in the army.
In addition, Sofia Burtak, Vitaliy Bokhniak, Oleg Koliasa, Maria Kisil, Andriy Artym, Iryna Vuitsyk – in Lviv, and Oleksandra Sorokopud, Natalia Zakharkiv, Ivan Drahomyretsky, Maksym Dzinera, Uliana Tolokunska, Kateryna Kryvoshey and others started volunteering in Europe and set up a network to purchase equipment and humanitarian goods to protect life of friends at the frontline and people affected by the war.
By joint efforts we managed to collect and transfer aid in according to the request: thermal imagers, meteorological stations, radio transmitters, shoes, transport, sleeping bags and mats, power banks, personal hygiene products, food. Relevant reports are available on the private pages of volunteers on Facebook.
How does YMCA help?
Since February, we have expanded our field team to include Maria Kisil and Iryna Vuitsyk on full-time and Sofia Burtak and Aliona Romaniuk on part-time employment thanks to YWCA/YMCA Aarhus support and their fundraising campaign. Also, thanks to Danish partners, our team was gifted a van to deliver humanitarian aid.
We want to strengthen our volunteer activities by creating programs to support, reintegrate and rehabilitate the military and their families and find partners among related YMCA organizations in the United States, Denmark, Switzerland and other democracies. Our immediate needs include buying at least two more cars or vans to the front, shoes, radio transmitters and a thermal imager.