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On the Role of Volunteers and Non-governmental Organizations - in the Article of Zerkalo Nedeli Newspaper

18.08.2014

We present you the text of the article “A Man is a Duty to a Man”, published in Zerkalo Nedeli Newspaper. In the article the author talks about the indispensable role of dozens of dedicated volunteers, volunteer organizations and foundations. The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation is pleased to collaborate with many of them and to help the people of Donbass together.

“A MAN IS A DUTY TO A MAN”

Over the past three months civil activists-volunteers constrainedly get their hand in evacuation and resettlement of refugees from Regions of Donetsk and Lugansk and the Crimea. Without the provision of corridors, practically without central government assistance, every day they continue to take away the families fleeing from violence from the ATO area and provide them all the necessary things. How does that refugee rescue system, emerged amid the chaos operate, and what challenges its participants is faced?

Currently in Ukraine there are more than 60 volunteer organizations with different functions to help internally displaced people. Their contribution cannot be compared and especially make some ratings: the efforts of every person who has taken voluntarily to help out stranger families, sometimes risking their lives - are equally priceless. We can only highlight the largest organizations, through which assistance to refugees from the eastern regions of the country and the Crimea has gained outlines of the certain national system.

For example, the Volunteer Hundred, which appeared in December at the Maidan. We started from transportation of firewood and organization of field hospitals in private apartments during the Revolution. When the Crimea occupation has happened and the first displaced residents came to Kiev, the volunteers of the “Hundred” prepared some food and went to visit them. This was a start of a new development round of the organization, which is called the alternative Ministry for Social Policy with less irony.

Now 28 regular settlements in the Region of Kiev are fully provided by the volunteers of “Hundred”, and about 50 people live in each of them. “Hundred” sends people wounded in ATO for treatment abroad, is engaged in supply of the National Guard and Self-Defence. Often other voluntary organizations appeal to “Hundred” when they need food.

Donbass-SOS. Heroic organization that has taken the most risky part of assistance to refugees - evacuation from the ATO area. Further the organization members provide people to “Volunteer Hundred”, Vostok-SOS or other colleagues involved in resettlement.

In the moneybox of Donbass-SOS volunteers there are stories of rescuing hostages from the captivity of terrorists, stopping trains for the rescue of one family, and others worthy of entire books. Among the organization partners there are Donetsk Regional State Administration, the Red Cross and the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. We can talk for a long time and rightfully about the role of Rinat Akhmetov himself in the history of the region and this war (there will be a time for the findings and decisions in this regard), but to deny or to ignore the position of the Foundation would be a mistake. From the beginning of the conflict the Foundation systematically helps refugees in all directions: from evacuation to accommodation, support, rehabilitation and return home to the liberated cities.

The Centre of Mutual Help “Vriatuiemo Ukrainu” is certainly fall into this list as it opened the way to salvation for the people of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in the most difficult period of the siege of these cities - it's a real “snowball”, launched by one worthy act of one decent man.

Now many people have heard the name of the pastor from Slavyansk Petr Dudnik, but first he just took away the acquainted family with adopted children and wrote about it in Facebook. The post was followed by a number of requests for assistance, and Peter had to seek answers hurriedly on two questions: how to evacuate and where to? Peter's wife Tamara undertook to study the possibilities for accommodation, the pastor - the possibility of evacuation.

Since Peter’s family has six adopted children, he has long been familiar with the staff of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. The Foundation contacted him and offered to help. Gradually the other volunteers began to join Peter, the organization began to form. People were taken out of the city every day – they took away everyone who gathered in the appointed place, near the municipal swimming pool, despite all the difficulties and resistance of terrorists who controlled Slavyansk.

“In my understanding, the corridor - this is when there is an agreement on both sides of the conflict to a ceasefire and the notification of local residents about it - says Peter. - During the whole period anything like this was not organized”.

First we used minibuses for evacuation. Soon militia fighter said that they needed minibuses for evacuation of the wounded people, because it allowed transporting dozens of people for a time, we had to hide it and restrict with cars. Four of them were taken away at checkpoints, and their drivers were captured by terrorists with the phrases like, “You often go out of town, probably merge information about our positions”. The first two were held in the basement of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), the other two were in the police department building. Fortunately, we managed to release all four people.

Now “Vriatuiemo Ukrainu” continues to engage in evacuation from Donetsk and Lugansk, and Peter himself organized repairing of damaged roofs of houses in the liberated cities, trying to catch the autumn, when the rains come. The pastor attracted volunteers from western Ukraine to this work, who gladly responded to the request for help. Fortunately, roofing materials again were provided by the volunteers and benefactors.

Resettlement of refugees in private mode and legal aid are globally engaged by the organization Vostok-SOS. They receive about 600 calls on their hotline daily.

On July 22 the organization decided to hold a meeting at the presidential administration, requiring joining the solution to problems unsustainable for volunteers, whether it be a hundred, a thousand, or a hundred thousand. It is, for example, the restoration of documents lost due to fire, attacks or robberies, documenting evidence of people rescued from captivity of terrorists. Also, despite the responsiveness of peaceful area residents, there is still not enough living places for displaced persons for a long period, and in fact many of the apartments and houses are destroyed, and their recovery will take months and even years.

At the present moment the aid in the resettlement of refugees on behalf of the state is made by the heads of local administrations to the best of ability, they gain to provide places in dormitories and recreation centres. According to the head of non-governmental organization on assistance to children in crisis situations “M.ART.IN Club” Victoria Fedotova, who is also actively involved in the evacuation and resettlement of refugees, Regions of Dnepropetrovsk, Kirovograd, Ternopol, Chernovtsy have immediately responded to the requests of the volunteers. They have also found an opportunity to render aid in the Region of Lvov, although there were many displaced people from the Crimes at the time of the outbreak of hostilities in the East. Odessa has responded quite indifferent – during all the time of ATO Victoria managed to place there only three families.

Generally Victoria Fedotova took up one of the prohibitive problems - placing insulin-dependent people, tuberculosis patients, paralyzed patients and mentally ill people. It turns out that during the capture of the eastern cities by terrorists only patients with severe forms of mental illness were transferred to psychiatric hospitals of the other regions, other people were just discharged.

Victoria herself responds to the hotline calls and actively cooperates with the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation where the Humanitarian Centre has recently been working, uniting the enterprises of “SCM” Group and FC “Shakhtar”. The Centre operates in the four main areas: evacuation of children, orphans, mothers of large families, disabled persons and seriously ill patients and elderly people from the war area; placing people in the bases, sanatoriums and camps outside the war area; provision of humanitarian assistance to those who remained at their places and who left the ATO area; targeted assistance, including minor children who lost their parents during the fighting. Calling the free of charge number 0 800 50 9001 or sending an email to helpdonbass@fdu.org.ua, you can get information about the evacuation from the ATO area - the date and place where the transport leaves, what you have to take with you, to which points is the evacuated performed and send an application for pick-up, temporary accommodation or assistance, including humanitarian or medical help or psychological consultation.

Helping people with disabilities, forced to flee the combat zone, is also active in the Association of Persons with Disabilities in Ukraine. The Association members agree with the owners of sanatoriums and health resorts to place the wards, whom the Association has about a thousand, provide them with food, medical supplies and necessary equipment. In collaboration with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Ukrzaliznitsya APDU has ensured that railway personnel transported over 1,150 people with disabilities out of the cities captured by terrorists for free at the request of coordination headquarters of the Association.

The list is incomplete without the Council for Civic Initiatives, which became one of the first major coordination centres for refugees this spring. The Council undertook to settle the Crimean residents before the authorities made decision on the official status of the occupied peninsula. Now most of the volunteer organizations somehow coordinate their actions with it.

Volunteer activities are sponsored by tens of thousands of individuals and companies. Many convey millions of tranches without publicity for their needs. For example, only from the stories of the activists it became aware of the transfer to “Volunteer Hundred” in the amount of 1,168.000 UAH from the online store “Rozetka”, transfer of 500,000 UAH to the Council for  Civil Initiatives from “Prominvestbank”, etc.

... “Slow and steady wins the race”: only yesterday the majority of volunteers saving hundreds of thousands of people from violence could not even imagine that they would do it. They were ordinary businessmen, teachers, drivers, priests and students. Taking the first step, none of them had no idea how to take a signal SOS, how to calculate the route, where to get the trucks, where to find shelter, a ton of food and a million UAH. They just were not afraid to take up the challenge, and now they held the whole area of social policy, that was beyond the power of the bureaucracy.

 

Author: Svetlana Chereda



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