Vinnytsia: Ukrainian humanitarian aid hub

Vinnytsia: Ukrainian humanitarian aid hub

Donations from all over the world are received in a warehouse in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. A local organization takes care of the distribution.

Andriy Kovalov is convinced that Ukraine would not have held out against Russia for more than 70 days without international support. “I don’t think we can do it on our own,” he says. Of course, it is also about arms deliveries, but the focus of the 45-year-old is on the humanitarian level, which the local politician organizes as head of the non-profit fund “Vinnytsia – a comfortable and safe city” (“Вінниця – комфортне та безпечне місто“) – and that relies in large part on donations.

High security measures

Medicines for more than 70 hospitals in central Ukraine, cuddly toys for children, clothing for internally displaced persons, first aid kits and clothing for soldiers, animal food. Thanks to an appeal for donations, a car was recently bought and transferred in Germany. During a tour through the warehouse, he shows what is organized here. At the same time, volunteers drive to the site and load the relief supplies. Outdoors, filming is only allowed in a way that the location cannot be localized. The concern that the hall could represent a military target is too big.


Kovalov explains that many of the aid supplies that arrive here are shipped from Germany: Berlin, Bielefeld, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, the organization receives support from many sides and not just from private individuals. This is where the broad network that the volunteers in Vinnytsia have built up over the past seven years is paying off. They also used monetary donations to buy protective equipment such as protectors for soldiers at the front in Germany. But that is particularly difficult to obtain. “No matter what, we need everything for the military,” he emphasizes.

High transshipment

The hospitals also suffered from the collapsed logistics because there was a lack of supplies. Whatever is currently in stock, he could get rid of in a day or two. “We don’t have that much and we need more, more, more,” says Kovalov. Because currently the priority is always:

We’re looking which region is really experiencing a ‘hot war’. It comes first. We have brave volunteers who bring relief supplies to any region in Ukraine, no matter if a bomb falls there. Then there are the regions to which many people have fled. We have recognized that there are many problems there as well.

For this reason, the team is also involved in Vinnytsia. The city with its almost 317,000 inhabitants has taken in more than 20,000 people, and a few thousand more in the vicinity. What initially sounds like a great willingness to help, “is actually a big problem for the cities that take in many people,” says Kovalov. Vacant buildings are now suddenly inhabited again, although the water and gas pipes are no longer intact. Attempts are also being made to remedy this.

In functional mode

After the shock on February 24th, when Russia started a large-scale attack on Ukraine, the population has now adjusted to the new situation. “Rockets fly overhead, but people walk outside. We’re just doing what we’re supposed to do,” he says, describing the current mode: “None of us can do anything else.” He immediately goes on to say that he is confident that the Ukrainian army will win. What Ukraine will look like then?

“I think it will be a new Ukraine: more buildings, more factories, more investments, green economy. I think it will be a new country. We hope, with help from Europe and the world.”

When asked about the recent debates about heavy arms deliveries or a capitulation by Ukraine, Kovalov reacts with irritation. It is difficult to understand people in other countries. “If you were here and saw the bombs and the dead, you would change your mind in a minute,” he says. Just as it has changed among the Ukrainians, who saw Russia as their “big brother” before the war. Now everyone understands that Russia is the enemy and that everything will be different after the war. He is actually convinced that people are not made for war and aggression, but to be friendly and helpful.

More support needed

It is now important to him that Europe does not forget Ukraine. “Our people and our military in Mariupol – the whole world must help them,” he pleads, “they will just be killed.”

Shortly after the video shoot1The video was recorded at the end of the actual interview for a better understanding Kovalov first apologizes that he got a bit emotional. When asked about the development of the willingness to donate, the now moist eyes soon turn red. In the first few weeks they got a lot, but now it’s getting less and less. When it comes to long-life food, it’s now said: “We need it for ourselves.” He understands that rising prices and more expensive energy are a problem in other countries.

The difference between war and peace

Ukraine is also on the side of its allies, but the starting point is different: “We don’t know what will happen in a minute. Two days ago there were rockets over Vinnytsia, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv,” explains Kovalov. That is the big difference between war and peace. “Even my children understand that and say they don’t want war,” he continues. Yet all people lived under God. “Why do we need all this?” he asks in a shaky voice. He apologizes again, turns around, seeks the privacy behind a palette. A suppressed soft, deep sigh can be heard.

A little later, Kovalov talks to the helpers again about the further coordination of the aid supplies. More cars drive up and are loaded for the next tour. Business goes on. Must.

The aid organization “Vinnytsia – for a comfortable and safe city” distributes received donations in the front area and the region.

Disclosure: Accommodation and meals in Vinnytsia were financed by third parties. This had no influence on the choice of topic.


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