Cases 11:06 14 Feb 2023

Ten stories of humanity: how Ukrainians support each other

Today, the whole world is talking about Ukraine, and how to support and bring the day of victory closer. Countless stories of occupied and liberated cities, weapons and humanitarian aid, politics, and life in trenches saturate the news. But the most important stories are about people, showing the bravery and humanity of Ukrainians. Rubryka takes a look at some of these lesser-known stories.

What is the problem?

War is pain. But hard times make nations stronger. With each new tragedy,  hanging onto hope becomes harder but sometimes it is easy enough to find by simply looking in front of you. Ukrainians are a perpetual source of inspiration and strength.

Humanity's most powerful weapon is the humanity and kindness they show through deeds, large and small, and the good intentions behind them. Rubryka has collected ten war stories that aim to inspire and restore faith in people — and show what Ukraine is truly made of.

What is the solution?
Apples of victory

бабуся Параска

This photo of Ms. Paraska from the Kharkiv region in the east of Ukraine went viral when the 96 year old resident of the village of Tsyrkuny was liberated from the russian occupiers. She gave her liberators everything she had — gratitude and apples from her own garden.

Volunteers bringing humanitarian aid to the liberated territories say that even now, Ms. Paraska has never let them out of her yard without a gift: raspberries, peppermint, apples, tomatoes — the cheerful and generous woman shares everything she grows in her garden with those who come to Tsyrkuny with help.

Ms. Paraska always asks if victory is coming soon. Looking into her lucid blue eyes, the volunteers feel they cannot let her down, and reassure her that Ukraine's victory is close.

Volunteers in Tsyrkuny told Rubryka: "We believe that Ms. Paraska, like all of us, will wait for Ukraine's victory, and we wish her good health and strength!"

Light for defenders


виготовлення окопних свічок

The photo above shows Vasyl Maletskyi, who lives in a center for people who've lost their home in Zhytomyr. In February 2022, Vasyl lost his leg due to thrombosis. After that, he ended up in a shelter for the homeless. However, the optimistic man does not have time to complain about his fate. Despite his disability, Vasyl started volunteering. He started making trench candles to make soldiers more comfortable on the front lines.

Vasyl says that before he started making candles, he watched master classes on the Internet. Now he can provide consultations himself. Since October 2022, Vasyl says he has made more than 4,000 trench candles.

"I know that this is a necessary thing. The defenders are waiting for a little light and warmth," he told Rubryka.

Ambulance for the armed forces

швидка на фронт

Ivan and Yaroslava Soltysy live in Sudova Vyshnya, in the Lviv region in the west of Ukraine. The couple lost their only son Volodymyr in the war. He was 34 years old. His parents say that he never served in the army, but when the full-scale invasion began, he volunteered to defend his country. With the payments received from the government after their son's death, the parents decided to buy an ambulance for the front.

"I immediately planned that it would be better if it helped someone there," says the father of the fallen soldier.

The couple bought the ambulance in Poland, equipped with everything necessary to provide frontline medical assistance, including two refrigerators full of medicines and spare wheels. The couple hopes that their dedication to the memory of their son will help save the lives of others in Ukraine.

We, Ukrainians, are of the same blood!

здача крові

Kherson, which was under russian occupation for almost ten months, was liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the beginning of November. Almost immediately, russian troops retreating to the left bank of the Dnipro River began shelling the city with mortars and artillery. Analysts say that with daily shelling, the terrorist state seeks to fluster the armed forces in the Kherson region, intimidate the people of Kherson and lower the morale of the civilian population. But it does not succeed.

On Christmas Eve, a particularly bloody shelling occurred in Kherson, killing ten people and injuring another 68. After that, scores of people lined up at the Kherson Blood Donation Center to donate blood that helped save dozens of wounded people. Despite the ongoing danger, people were ready to stand in line day after day to help save others. This is the superpower of Ukrainians!

Dnipro and its residents. One's grief is everyone's grief


трагедія у Дніпрі

On January 14, the russian army again hit the city of Dnipro with missiles. One of them hit a residential high-rise building, completely destroying the entire entrance. Forty-six people died that day, and even more were left homeless.

Volunteers and people living nearby organized humanitarian aid points for those whose home was destroyed russia. First, necessities were collected and given to the victims. Field kitchens worked around the clock to keep search and rescue teams fed while they worked, and volunteers prepared hot meals and tea for residents, rescuers and medics.

After the strike, one family was trapped in their apartment, and the entrance blocked by rubble. Their neighbor managed to save them by showing rescuers where to break the wall of her apartment and get the trapped family to safety. The rescuers pulled out two children, four adults, and a cat.

Young heroes from Brovary


трагедія у Броварах

On January 18, 2023, a helicopter of the State Emergency Service heading to Kharkiv with the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on board crashed into a kindergarten in Brovary. All nine people on board died in the crash, and five more people on the ground, among them a child, became victims of the tragedy. When the helicopter fell, it partially damaged the high-rise building and the Dzhereltse kindergarten, injuring another 25 people.

Local high school students Andriy Datsenko, Anton Pryshchepa, Viktor Komisarov, and Hleb Kasyan were among the first to run to the scene of the accident. From the first minutes after the helicopter fell in Brovary, four friends helped the victims with everything they could.

"When I heard the explosion, I ran here and started helping," Hleb Kasyan said at the scene of the tragedy. "Here, wounded children were passed over the fence, many of them with bruises and scratches. We brought them home, bandaged them, wrote down their names and surnames, and found their parents." 

According to the boys, the rescue services couldn't drive up to the building because of the  cars parked on both sides of the road. The teenagers joined the adults and started pulling cars over to make way for doctors, firefighters, and police. The teenagers also distributed sweets to the children so that they could distract themselves a little from the traumatic experience. 

Later, the State Emergency Service awarded the boys for their courageous actions in the first minutes after the accident with commemorative medals for saving a life.

Christmas for the occupiers


полонені росіяни

Ukraine and the world have witnessed the brutal actions of the russian federation toward Ukrainian prisoners of war more than once. Anyone who follows russia's war against Ukraine knows the torture Ukrainian soldiers go through in russian captivity. Ukraine, in its turn, treats russian prisoners differently.

On January 6, in a camp for POWs in the Lviv region, russian prisoners of war held Christmas celebrations. The detained had a dinner with traditional Ukrainian dishes, and were also taken to the church, where the priest held a festive service and read a sermon. This is precisely the difference between Ukrainians and russians: the humanity of Ukrainians against the cruelty of the russian invaders.

The most valuable treasure


українці і тварини

Protection of the weak and care for those dependent on other people is the strongest indicator of humanity. The russian army has destroyed zoos and shelters; its soldiers tortured dogs and cats for entertainment.

Ukrainian soldiers help deliver kittens and treat and accept wounded stray dogs into their units right at the positions under fire. Ukrainian rescuers manually disassemble the debris of destroyed buildings to dig out a cage with a live chinchilla.

Thousands of Ukrainians who became displaced due to the war have proved their humanity time and again. Fleeing from the atrocities of the occupiers, they ventured into the unknown with just one backpack or shoulder bag, leaving all their possessions behind. However, many of them did not forget their pets — carrying them as their most valuable treasure.

Saving "Private Cat"


врятовані тварини

Many people remember the story of a cat from Borodyanka in the Kyiv region named Gloria, who was rescued from the seventh floor of a high-rise building that was bombed by russian troops during the first wave of invasion. The cat lived in the remains of the house for about two months without food or water.

To save the stranded animal, a whole operation was organized — special equipment was brought to Borodyanka, which helped to get to the cat and safely bring it to the ground. Gloria the cat, which the volunteers initially named "Shafa" in honor of the kitchen cabinet that remained intact in the destroyed building in Borodyanka, became the subject of many memes and a symbol of the indomitability of the Ukrainian people in the fight against the russian occupiers. Thanks to this, the cat was recognized by her owner, who was separated from Gloria during the russian attack, and later woman crossed half the country to reunite with her family.

"Our mission is to help each other"

евакуювати коней

Before the russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Anna Shulga had a children's equestrian school in Kharkiv with almost two dozen horses. For 15 years, she practiced hippotherapy and trained professional jockeys.

Anna's family and their horses survived the first and most terrible month of bombing in Kharkiv. But when a russian projectile hit a five-story building next to Anna's house, and a second projectile fell but did not explode on the stable where the horses were walking, the family decided it was time to evacuate. The students managed to take in some of the horses, but ten horses were brought by the family to the Zhytomyr region, including old horses who are over 20 years old.

Anna talks about her horses with love:

"This is Funtik. He was born in 1998. He is old and wise. He still tries to teach me something. There is also Bohemia, a five-year-old mare. There is Rector — my first horse. I bought him when he was four years old and taught him to jump over obstacles. My first students also worked with him, but it so happened that he received an injury, which does not allow him to ride. Now he can only walk and eat. He is already 21 years old. He has no teeth. And I said that he will be with me until the last day."

The family had the opportunity to go abroad: Anna's husband is the father of many children, so he is allowed to leave Ukraine under martial law. But the couple decided to stay in Ukraine to take care of the old horses and resume their business in the Zhytomyr region. Anna believes that because were born in Ukraine, this is their land — and they have things to do here. "It is our mission to stay here and help each other," Anna concludes. 


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