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Solutions 18:50 29 Aug 2022

Konyuhiv hostesses: how female volunteers in the Lviv region made 13,000 canned meat and two tons of dumplings for our defenders

We tell about the caring community of women and how they can be helped.

What is the problem?

Food and the front

Ukrainians have known about the "Women's Battalions" and "Culinary Hundreds" for eight years — as long as the russian war in Ukraine has been going on. Since 2014, female volunteers have united across the country for a good cause. They cooked and sent the food and goodies to our fighters in the ATO and JFO zone. Over time, the supply in the army improved, and it seemed that now dried borscht and pies and buns baked by the hardworking hands of Ukrainian volunteers were no longer an urgent need for the military. But after February 24, it became clear that it was too early for culinary hundreds to think about rest. Many had to learn the wisdom of culinary volunteering for the first time this year.

What is the solution?

Unite the volunteer community

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

Iryna Levytska, who in peaceful life worked in the credit department of the bank, started volunteering literally from the first days of the full-scale russian offensive. She rallied the volunteers of the village of Konyuhiv of the Hrabovetsko-Dulibivska community in the Lviv region. They started with weaving camouflage nets but decided that this was not enough. To feed Ukrainian defenders — this was exactly the ambitious goal women from a village in Stryshchyna had set for themselves. Now, in a day, Konyuhiv volunteers can prepare about 300 cans of canned meat for our soldiers — stew and pate. They are sent to the front with love and words of support, but the jars are still jokingly asked to be returned.

How does it work?

Like many Ukrainians, on February 24, Iryna Levytska was shocked by the news about the war. At first, it seemed that it would not last long – day and night, the woman read the news, but they were disappointing… Iryna and her fellow villagers wanted to help our soldiers in some way: the women gathered in the People's House, cut up old things and sheets, wove nets, and collected food and hygiene products, which were handed over to the territorial defense and the military unit.

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

A few days after russia's full-scale invasion, the housewives, having consulted, decided to make varenyky and dumplings. The women had no volunteer experience, so Iryna visited all the volunteer organizations in Stryi to find out how to send them later. "Somewhere they told me: you bring it, and we'll figure it out there, somewhere they suggested just storing it in the basement… But here at "Klaptyk nadii" we heard specifics: we will call you when the car goes to the front, and you will bring it. This decision suited all our households because we immediately knew where our products were going and when."Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

Iryna Levytska — in the middle

Thus began the interaction of Konykhiv volunteers with the district humanitarian headquarters "Klaptyk Nadii," which had already worked out delivery logistics and coordinated with volunteer organizations on the front line, military units, and volunteer formations. "The girls and I made it a priority to feed the defenders, so we concentrated on that and started cooking," says Iryna.

When acquaintances and fellow villagers found out about "Konyuhiv Gazdyni," they began bringing them money for food, as much as they could. At the same time, Ms. Iryna started calling about financial assistance and entrepreneurs. Business responded. "It was then," Iryna recalls, "that we realized that we had the money for meat and could cook stews."

Will they definitely succeed?

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

The initiative group "Konyukhiv Gazdyni" has about 75 volunteers, but someone new is constantly joining. During the first two months of the war, the women gathered daily. They were trained at a local school, and since May, with the assistance of the Stryi district administration, they have moved to the 34th school in the city of Stryi. Housewives come to Stryi according to schedule and cook the stew in the school kitchen two days a week. In one day, 12-14 housewives produce an average of 300 cans of meat.

"The day starts at 9:00 in the morning, and we return home around half past one in the morning. We pack each jar and load the boxes ourselves. We have no men; it is a women's battalion. This is probably the most difficult," says Iryna. But strong-minded women do not complain; they say: we will cook and carry as much as necessary.

During the five months of work, the residents of Konyukhiv handed over more than 13,000 half-liter cans of stews, meat pate, and lard spreads, almost two tons of dumplings, about 900 kg of potato cakes with meat, hundreds of kilograms of dumplings, cabbage rolls,  blood sausage, meat products, homemade sweet pastries, and chebureks for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and territorial defense. The latest find of housewives is sausage rolls. All these delicacies were very popular with the Ukrainian soldiers.

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

In addition to cooking, volunteers collect medicines, food, coffee, cigarettes, sweets, underwear, and socks for our defenders. Two hundred sets of bed linen were handed over to the Dnipro hospital. Over time, when the activities of the women from Konyukhiv became well known at the front, the households began to maintain direct contact with the combatants, and now the boys come to the village to take ready-made products. But the volunteers also convey a lot through "Klaptyk nadii."

In addition to cooking, volunteers collect medicines, food, coffee, cigarettes, sweets, underwear, and socks for our defenders. Two hundred sets of bed linen were handed over to the Dnipro hospital. Over time, when the activities of the women from Konyukhiv became well known at the front, the households began to maintain direct contact with the combatants, and now the boys come to the village to take ready-made products. But the volunteers also convey a lot through "Klaptyk nadii."

More useful solutions!

To organize a volunteer kitchen from scratch, as Konyuhivski Gazdyni did, one must have a great desire to help our soldiers, says project coordinator Iryna Levytska.

"Believe me, in the first days to find funds and gather people, I walked round the clock with the phone close to my ear, but when people saw that it was all done sincerely, I received the desired support. In March, I sat for tens of hours, calling farms and pig farms of the entire Lviv region with a request to give meat, and in this way, I collected a ton of meat in a short period of time!"

Iryna Levytska said they were even called from a single news marathon to talk about their work. "We consulted and refused because we believed we were not doing anything heroic. A little later, at the end of March, Maksym Kozytskyi, the head of the Lviv RMA, reposted my post about Konyuhivski Gazdyni with a video of us cooking stew and making dumplings on his Facebook page. It was an information explosion for us. The stories were shown in Germany, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Acquaintances, who are now abroad and accidentally saw the news about Ukraine, began to write on my Facebook page and also help financially. That's how we understood the power of information."

So far, households have processed about 7 tons of meat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find funds for it, so the Konyukhiv family is happy for every hryvnia sent to the project. They continue to "knock on all the doors." In five months, we managed to collect almost a million hryvnias. "We didn't just buy food; the boys needed thermal imagers — we went to get thermal imagers, there was a request for berets and helmets — we got them too, they needed cigarettes and chocolate — they went to the front too."

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

Конюхівські ґаздині: як волонтерки на Львівщині зробили 13 тисяч м'ясних консервів та дві тонни вареників для наших захисників

Photos of jars with various encouraging stickers from Konyukhiv have spread all over the Internet. "Our Defender! We will eat the next stew together. We are waiting for you with Victory in the village. Konyukhiv of Stryi district with this jar. May God protect you!" sincere wishes for the soldiers from the Lviv region.

You can help the project and bring our Victory closer on the culinary front by contacting Iryna Levytska directly through private messages on Facebook.

Because, according to the volunteers, it is becoming more and more difficult to find meat for the products they send to our defenders at the front, cooperation with meat processing plants, farms, and those who care would help the volunteers. If you want to help the Konyukhiv family with the meat supply, contact Ms. Iryna via the link above.

Also, the Konyukhiv family always needs informational support.

Together we are strong! – the Konyuhiv family is confident.

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