I just spent nearly two and a half months volunteering in Ukraine. It’s was an amazing experience which I’ll never forget. From helping and supplying shelters with food and aid to transporting individuals and families from their recently destroyed home to safer places, the missions were mostly intense and necessary.
My experience and time in Ukraine
My experience volunteering in Ukraine, and simply observing the current state of affairs first-hand, opened my eyes to many things, good and horrific. Without the presence of war, Ukraine appears to be a decent place to live. I envision few distractions, which would make it a peaceful place, in my opinion. On the other hand, corruption is wide spread. So much so, it seems to be an accepted part of life for most. We often run from the culture we are raised within due to distorted appeals of another. I find this interesting about human psychology. An experience doing so can be fruitful if we take the journey. We get to discover what we like. Options and opportunities are great, right? I’m currently seeking my purpose and place as I constantly travel the world!
During my time volunteering in Ukraine, I met amazing people, developed life long friendships and gained new appreciation for life, something I’m always seeking as I continue my travels. Friendship with a Ukrainian is pure. Once you’ve earned that friend, they will be there for you. It’s real and authentic and depending on the connection, deep conversations and vulnerability are welcomed. You know where you stand.
In Ukraine, superficial pleasantries are rarely exchanged someone. When asking someone about their day, you’d better be ready for an answer rather than the expected, whether honest or not, “good, and yours?” It’s refreshing, I hope this doesn’t change as they tread toward a journey of western ideals and EU status.
Volunteering in Ukraine
Volunteering in Ukraine was quite rewarding. My efforts were focused on the people, those individuals affected by symptoms of war. I’m not into politics, don’t care much about that game. I was in Ukraine, not to support a movement, rather experience it, and to help those caught in the storm.
Volunteers in Ukraine are essential to the inner workings of war in Ukraine. Without them, soldiers and the citizens and victims of war, don’t eat. Food, aid, supplies and medicine are largely facilitated and delivered by NGO’s, freelance volunteering and locals in Ukraine. The locals are doing a huge service to their country by helping with humanitarian efforts. Foreign volunteers are welcome and needed nonetheless. There are many volunteers in Ukraine from all over the world. Surprisingly for me, England has a large number along with the many British NGO’s. I made promises to return and I will, whether war is ongoing or not.
My commitment to helping will continue
As I leave Ukraine and volunteer commitments behind, I remain in touch with several individuals and families currently transitioning from shelters to their new home. We speak on occasion to check in. I hope to provide assistance when they need something which most of us take for granted. As they rebuild their lives, they will need more help. I will continue to follow developments inside Ukraine and speak with fellow volunteers, some of whom now good friends. This is a journey that will continue my entire life. Hopefully, the chaos ends soon and we explore new relations as the country aims to find a calming. My fundraiser for those displaced in Ukraine is still active. You’re welcome to contribute.
Another group I’ve taken interest in lately is ‘Everyman’ located in the Odessa Oblast of southern Ukraine. Odessa is located on the north shores of the Black Sea. ‘Everyman’ focuses their efforts on supporting adult men who’ve been impacted.
Here is the mission as stated by Everyman
“a mental health first aid and resilience initiative for men. Join, share, and find support in one of our peer-led, confidential self-help circles. Whilst we’re a men’s group, we welcome support and assistance from the women in our community too”Everyman
Why I chose volunteering in Ukraine
I chose to volunteer in Ukraine for one reason. I remember hearing the news of Russia’s plan to invade back in early 2022. I knew people would be affected due to symptoms of such an invasion. I wanted to do what I could. Already planning an extended trip abroad, I thought this could be one of the stops I make on my journey. Getting involved with an NGO from abroad is difficult. I learned this the hard way. I didn’t find much help or interest from volunteer groups and the information on doing so was limited at the time. If you are serious about volunteering, you will either be persistent until someone from an NGO or volunteer group gives you time of day, or, you’ll simply show up on the scene and do whatever is necessary. This is what I did.
I entered Ukraine with a cultural residency group sponsored by the EU delegation to Ukraine, but the residency only lasted a week. So, I had my entry planned, now I just needed to find volunteers and network from there. With persistence, this is quite easy. To this day, I participate in numerous group chats filled with freelance volunteers, NGOʼs and locals. Each with differing agendas but an aligned goal, help others.
My physical journey has now taken me to Krakow Poland, Croatia and currently in Bosnia. I’m road-tripping for several weeks before settling in Southeast Asia for several months. The people in Ukraine, and around the world, affected by this war are in my thoughts.