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Special project 19:45 26 May 2022

"We went to ask people what help they needed": the story of three businesswomen who became "Caring cats"

Today you will not surprise anyone with volunteering. What can be difficult about raising money and buying the necessary stuff? But in reality, Ukrainian self-organization is a phenomenon. And such "ordinary" things for most foreigners are simply hard to comprehend. We are sure that each volunteer deserves a separate article and millions of reposts. And in this interview, the story seems ordinary, but it is not.

They call themselves "Caring Cats." Because they often heard these words from those they helped. In the first days of the full-scale war, Yuliia, Liliia, and Ruslana, like everyone else, were hiding in basements and were confused. But when they united, they started helping others.

"February 24. Seven in the morning. Air raid sounds, terrible panic, a bunch of cars. Lilia and I are driving across the bridge to the left bank of Kyiv. We are driving and praying that the bridge is not blown up. And then, there was the basement. Well, for us, it was just like for everyone else," — Yuliia recalls the first hours of the war.

Liliia and Yuliia are lawyers, and Ruslana is a marketer. They became friends before the war. And now they literally live together to have more time. 

Турботливі котики

Asked-Bought-Gave

Our conversation happened late in the evening. Their phones were constantly vibrating: inquiries, deliveries, orders. The first aid kits were somewhere on the way. And tomorrow the girls are going to Chernihiv – they are bringing humanitarian aid.

Their project does not have a long-planned history, long brainstorms, and year-long strategies. The war accelerates all these processes greatly. In just a couple of weeks of their work, the need to create a charity fund has already arisen. That was how "Caring Cats" came to life.

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"On February 25, we arrived in Bila Tserkva. And already on the way, we discussed what we could do. We stayed for a while in the basement, but we could not do it any longer – we just went to ask people what help they needed," says Yulia. 

At first, it was a target help: ask – buy – give. Then the girls started looking for contacts of acquaintances from other cities. "

"It turned out that Liliia had contacts in Lviv. We received help with humanitarian aid. And at the same time, we started raising funds because we were running out of ours. Like everyone else, we lost our jobs. In just a few days, we managed to raise a significant amount. It was nice that people trusted us.

Just like that, many, many people around us began to unite. At first, we did not focus on a particular type of assistance: we bought everything necessary, provided targeted aid, and supported the military. To cut a long story short, we did what we could at that moment."

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"Because watch and helmet saved my hand in the battle"

Being a volunteer means answering hundreds of calls, making instant contacts, and getting what you can't get because someone needs this.

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The girls mentioned one story that they asked to leave in the interview.

"We learned that the wounded soldier in the hospital needed help. We called him for specifics. And he was so modest, and it was clear that he was uncomfortable. He asked us to bring him a fleece, a deodorant, and a watch. We bought everything and brought it to him.


He came out to us, wounded and with a burnt face. We felt so embarrassed by how little we did. 

We searched for a regular watch for a long time and gave it to the soldier.

Although it was uncomfortable to ask, we were curious why he needed it. And he said: "Because in the battle, a watch and a helmet saved my hand."

It gave us goosebumps.

Some time passed. On March 8, we were listening to the President's speech. And here he called the name of this soldier! He was awarded the Order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky. And the guy was just so shy, so modest, and he felt so uncomfortable asking and taking something from us. For us, this is the minimum that we could do."

In a few weeks, the girls have already made contacts, trust, and got into the rhythm of work. Their days consist of dozens of such stories. Now "Caring Cats" are mainly engaged in buying first aid kits for the military. Although they also provide humanitarian aid to those in need.

"Now we are focusing on the victory"

Благодійний фонд Турботливі котики

The "Caring Cats" are happy to be able to cover military requests, but they are also working tirelessly to increase their capacity to provide relevant assistance. The registration of the charity fund was just a step towards this. To make the activities more transparent and clear for those who help and those who get helped.

Volunteers send at least ten parcels a day to our military and civilians in need.

 

The requests are incredibly diverse — from blankets and power banks to tactical first aid kits and computers. "Powerful laptops are one of the biggest requests from the units we have direct contact with," the girls share. In mid-May, the volunteers were able to send four such computers to the frontline units, which really needed them.

Благодійний фонд Турботливі котики

Благодійний фонд Турботливі котики

They plan to work even after the war. "The consequences of the war will be terrible. Understanding this motivates us to move on, to plan. There will be a lot of work there, and we are qualified to provide legal and psychological assistance. But now our focus is on winning, on what we can do specifically here and now, quickly."

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That's how, literally, in a few days, the war forced them to quickly self-organize. This story is a reflection of thousands of others. When Ukrainians, understanding their strength and unity, work for the victory, everyone has on their own front.

How to help?

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You can directly support Caring Cats. That way, they will be able to help our soldiers even more! 

Charitable fund "Caring cats"

Official details:

UAH

RECIPIENT: Charity Foundation Caring Cats Charity Organization

IBAN: UA233052990000026008030128106

BENEFICIARY's BANK: JSC CB "PRIVATBANK"

BIN: 305299

Recipient's Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine: 44670104

Payment purpose: charitable contribution

USD

RECIPIENT: Charity Foundation Caring Cats Charity Organization

IBAN: UA123052990000026000010131832

BENEFICIARY's BANK: JSC CB "PRIVATBANK"

Recipient's Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine: 44670104

Payment purpose: charitable contribution

EUR

RECIPIENT: Charity Foundation Caring Cats Charity Organization

IBAN: UA283052990000026003040126461

BENEFICIARY's BANK: JSC CB "PRIVATBANK"

Recipient's Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine: 44670104

Payment purpose: charitable contribution

Contacts: [email protected] 

+380976505370 

Facebook page

 

The material was prepared within the framework of the grant competition from the NGO "Internews-Ukraine" with the financial support of Sweden and Internews (project Audience understanding and digital support). The views expressed in this publication belong solely to the author.

Матеріал підготовлено в рамках реалізації грантового конкурсу від ГО

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