Supporting people who lost everything. How rechi.support initiative helps displaced people
russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine left many people without the possibility of existence—rapid relocation, escaping from shelling, and sometimes being forced to abandon property because their only family home was destroyed. Then, when it seems that everything is lost, that there is no way to "stand on your feet" again, people who help from the bottom of their hearts rise to the occasion. Since April, the rechi.support project has been helping displaced people find what they need in the first days after moving. Currently, 20 volunteers work every day to help others.
What is the problem?
As of October, 4.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) from various regions were registered in Ukraine due to russia's military aggression, Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Social Policy Daryna Marchak reports. All these people left their homes and went "to nowhere" without expecting any help or assistance. Some left their cities without a single bag or belongings, some had their homes burned down or completely destroyed, and some lost everything they had worked for for years.
Sometimes IDPs leave their homes for safer regions without the opportunity to buy clothes, shoes, winter jackets, or other necessary things for winter and further life.
"And I began to notice that many of my friends are posting requests on social media to help displaced people who don't have the opportunity to buy something or get some things somewhere. That is, in the spring, there were a lot of people who needed support with things, ordinary things that we have in everyday life, and they don't even have that," the founder of the rechi.support project, Oksana Drahan, explained.
Ukrainians from Bucha, Mariupol, Irpin, Chernihiv, and Bakhmut, leaving for safer places, began to look for an opportunity to find essential items through acquaintances. According to Oksana, someone asked for shoes, someone for an electric kettle, and someone for clothes.
"I realized that people have lost a lot. Some have lost more than their house—their relatives. And I understand that they are leaving hell anyway, and they still need to think about how to find the money for a minimal set of things for the first weeks. People cannot relax even for one moment and rest from what they saw," says Oksana.
This is how the idea came up, and later the rechi.support project.
What is the solution?
The rechi.support project has created a resource that unites people who need help and who can provide it. The primary implementation tool is a social media page. From the beginning, Oksana posts the requests for the necessary things for one family.
Rechi.support helps everyone forced to leave their home due to russian aggression. You can apply to the project if you (alone or with your family) left the war zone, fled the occupation, and moved to a safer place in Ukraine.
How does it work?
IDPs need to go to the page of the rechi.support project, and list all their needs in personal messages (starting with clothes and ending with some household appliances). Ukrainians can specify requests for all family members, regardless of age or gender.
"We notice that people write to us and ask for, for example, shoes for children. And we tell them to indicate what all family members need, not only children. And then, items of clothing for parents, dishes, hygiene products, and some products come up. We are determined to find all these things among other Ukrainians who will directly send a parcel to the displaced family. No things come to us. We only find people who can help others in this difficult time," says Oksana Drahan.
rechi.support can help displaced people find the following:
- everything for children,
- everything for the home (blankets, pillows, towels, bed linen),
- hygiene products and food kits.
Usually, one request, if it is something general (clothing or food), the project can solve one request in a few days or a week. If they ask for help finding some appliances, such as a refrigerator, washing machine, or electric kettle, it can take several weeks or months.
To leave an application, you need to write to rechi.support in personal messages and enter the following information:
- What settlement you left,
- Who needs things (family composition and age),
- detailed measurements of each family member (height, clothing size, shoe size ),
- what else is necessary for children and adults,
- the delivery address.
Requests are closed anonymously.
Currently, assistance is provided to IDPs who have left dangerous regions of Ukraine under occupation or where hostilities are taking place. Earlier, the organization offered help to migrants from Kyiv, Mykolaiv, and Kharkiv regions. But now it is mainly Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Ukrainians who are ready to help upon request respond to it to the organizers and explain what things and in what quantity precisely they can help. After that, there is an approval process, the rechi.support project provides postal data for sending.
Since the project is aimed at helping internally displaced persons, there are specific rules that everyone who wants to help and send things is asked to follow. First, only clean items in good condition can be sent as aid. Those that you would like to wear yourself. Second, if IDPs need help with underwear or socks, they should only be new. Third, only senders pay for the parcel. Because if you help, then do it to the end.
"Sometimes people write to us: 'Well, there is a little hole in the sneakers, is that okay?' We answer that you can take them out only to the trash. Some want to send clothes with stains and holes. We are against it. The clothes must be in good condition. Yes, not new, but not 'killed' either. People think 'it will leave for the refugees.' But these people had a home, a life, and worked and earned good money. Maybe even lived better than you and I. And now they have nothing, and it hurts. Therefore, you should not just dispose of your old unnecessary things but help," Oksana says.
In addition, the project volunteers ask to put goodies for children in the shipment. If there are women in the family, you can additionally send hygiene products or cosmetics; if there are children, send toys or books, sweets or snacks. No one asks for this, but it won't be extra.
The peculiarity of the project is that rechi.support volunteers only need the Internet and a mobile phone or laptop to help displaced people. Things are immediately sent to the family from other people or one donor, which is convenient and does not require additional finances.
Does it work?
In November of this year, about 800 families received a complete package of assistance, from ordinary things to minimal household appliances. Families are primarily from 3 to 8 people. In seven months of work, aid reached about 6,000 people.
According to estimates, the project can fully process 130-140 requests per month. That's how many families will receive help from rechi.support every month.
In addition, the project helps to unite caring people, including volunteers. If, at first, only Oksana worked on the project, then a whole team appeared that processes requests and looks for donors for help every day.
Even more helpful solutions!
To close even more requests and help more displaced people, rechi.support took part in the annual Change Drivers award. Bendukidze Free Market Center, in partnership with Atlas Network, Friedrich Naumann Foundation Ukraine and Belarus, and Rubryka solutions media, organizes it. The prize is awarded to projects that help to change the country and society and help those who need it here and now.
Oksana admits that she did not register for the award herself. Someone else did it for her.
"Yulia, the manager of Change Drivers, wrote to me that we had won and that the prize was waiting for us. I understood that someone submitted us to this initiative, which was very nice. And it is even more pleasant when enough people voted for us for our victory because the winners here were determined by voting. We came to the award ceremony to receive 10,000 hryvnias, which will greatly help our cause," says Oksana.
The rechi.support team will use the money received to buy things for the displaced people to cover their requests completely. These will be things that donors often cannot offer to help those in need; such things are easier to buy.
"In general, I had the principle of not accepting any money. And then, my friend collected donations for her birthday and gave them to us to buy things for people who need them. And I realized that it was convenient. Because there are positions in requests patrons don't have, it is easier to buy them. Since then, we have been accepting donations and collecting aid, and the amount won will not only help us close the applications but will also help people who need it so much now, " says Oksana.
If you have the opportunity to help the rechi.support project, you can do it in the following ways:
🔗Link to the Bank
💳 Monobank card
5375 4112 0001 9565
💳 Privatbank card
Photos courtesy of Oksana Drahan