Honoring The Unsung Heroes: Yevheniia‘s Story

Welcome to the latest installment in our “Unsung Heroes” series, where we shine a spotlight on the incredible individuals making a difference in Ukraine. As Ukraine continues to defend itself against an unprovoked and brutal invasion, the efforts of these unsung heroes are more crucial than ever. This series follows photojournalist Allan Mestel on his fourth journey to Ukraine, capturing the stories of those who, often behind the scenes, are a lifeline in Ukraine’s fight for freedom. Their selfless actions resonate far beyond Ukraine’s borders, serving as a testament to the enduring human spirit and the power of unity in the face of adversity. You can read the introductory blog article to learn more about this journey and the inspiring heroes we’re meeting along the way.

Yevheniia‘s Story

In this article, we spotlight Yevheniia from United Help Ukraine (UHU) and her unwavering commitment to support Ukraine.

Yevheniia began volunteering to support Ukraine after russia’s 2014 invasion and has since dedicated herself full-time to her work at United Help Ukraine (UHU). Yevheniia plays a crucial role at the UHU Logistics Hub in Ukraine, where she and a team of UHU unsung heroes receive, repackage, and distribute first-aid and medical supplies, protective equipment, and other essential aid and supplies to those in need and defenders on the front lines. Through Yevheniia’s story, we honor her dedication and the vital work being done at the UHU Logistics Hub in Ukraine.

From Bank Professional to Humanitarian Aid Manager

In the heart of Ukraine, amidst the turmoil and uncertainty of war, Yevheniia stands as a beacon of resilience and hope. At 44, she has dedicated herself to the cause of her nation through her work with United Help Ukraine. However, her commitment to support her country started long before the full-scale invasion in 2022.

Yevheniia began volunteering to support Ukraine after russia invaded the Donbas region in 2014. When the full-scale invasion occurred in 2022, she put her career as a bank professional on hold to join United Help Ukraine, helping them establish a warehouse and logistics hub in Ukraine.

Yevheniia shared her insights into the early days of United Help Ukraine when the organization was founded after the 2014 invasion, and how the organization has changed since the full-scale invasion in February 2022. “It was a small organization,” she says, “coordinated by Ukrainians and their friends abroad who realized that Ukraine needed help.” In its early days, the organization operated on a very small budget, collecting and distributing funds through the sale of Ukrainian goods and charity events. This changed drastically with the 2022 invasion, as the organization’s budget skyrocketed overnight through generous donations, reflecting the urgent need for expanded humanitarian efforts and global support to aid Ukraine.

Now more than ever, as russia intensifies its offensive into Ukraine, the need for donations to support Ukraine is greater than ever. Yet, as Ukraine has faded from the headlines, the flow of funding has declined since the start of the war.

Adapting to New Roles in Times of Crisis

Yevheniia worked as a banking professional before the full-scale invasion. Watching the horrific events unfolding in her home country, she felt a profound calling to help more directly. As russia made its way toward Kyiv in the early days of the war, Yevheniia left the Kyiv area and went west where it was safer. She joined United Help Ukraine as they worked to establish a logistics hub in western Ukraine. Yevheniia reflected on her work transition. “I realized this is my mission now,” she says. “I can do more here than in my previous life.”

Yevheniia‘s role within United Help Ukraine evolved rapidly. She helped establish the vital logistics hub and together with a team of unsung heroes at this hub, she helps to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those in need despite the country’s chaos and ever-increasing danger. “I’ve changed my profession,” she reflects. “From a bank worker to managing logistics and aid distribution for a charity organization. It feels like the right place for me now.”

Yevheniia’s role at UHU demands versatility, encompassing tasks ranging from helping with logistics at the hub to coordinating shipments of vital aid and supplies to both those in need and frontline locations. 

Yevheniia

Personal Impact and Unwavering Commitment

The war has profoundly affected Yevheniia and her family. Originally from Kyiv, she relocated with her son and dog to a safer location in the early days of the war. While some of her family members stayed in Kyiv and others sought refuge in the United States, fortunately, her immediate family remains unharmed. Despite the peril and uncertainty, Yevheniia remains resolute in her decision to remain in Ukraine and continue her work to support Ukraine. “I want to help,” she asserts. “I want to stay during this difficult time for Ukraine.”

A Call for Global Support

Yevheniia is acutely aware of the broader implications of the war and the essential role of international support. “We need help from the whole world,” she emphasizes. “Especially from America and Europe. Ukraine is not a big country, and we cannot face this massive challenge alone.”

She warns that the threat posed by russia extends beyond Ukraine’s borders, urging global leaders to act decisively. “If putin succeeds here, he won’t stop with Ukraine. He could go further, to Poland, the Baltic countries.”

A Legacy of Courage and Hope

Yevheniia‘s story is a powerful reminder of the strength and determination of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Her dedication to United Help Ukraine and her country embodies the spirit of resilience and solidarity that defines Ukraine’s response to this crisis. As we continue to follow and celebrate the unsung heroes, we hope their stories inspire our readers and people across the globe to support Ukraine and the unsung heroes in the ongoing fight for freedom and justice.

Whether through volunteering, fundraising, advocating for aid to Ukraine, or making a small donation to a non-profit organization such as United Help Ukraine, every bit helps. Your contributions can help fuel the efforts of dedicated individuals like Yevheniia, ensuring that medical aid, supplies, and other support reach those who need it most, including the freedom fighters on the front lines in Ukraine.

How You Can Help

Your support can make a difference!

Please consider contributing to United Help Ukraine, dedicated to providing critical support to the people of Ukraine, enabling them to survive, defend their sovereignty, and rebuild for a better future. Learn more about United Help Ukraine here: https://unitedhelpukraine.org/

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Photos courtesy of United Help Ukraine and Allan Mestel. Use of these images without prior written consent from United Help Ukraine and Allan Mestel is strictly prohibited.