Mutual Aid Networks Come to the Rescue During Coronavirus Quarantine in Ukraine
24 March, 2020
An elderly homeless woman begs in a nearly deserted – due to quarantine – underpass in Kyiv, Ukraine. March 23, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Medical staff, soldiers in the Donbas, elderly people and the homeless all need additional support during a quarantine. Hromadske talks about the support networks that have been developing, and how you can help.


“Give Medic a Ride”

Andriy Babirad worked as a neurologic at the Kyiv Regional Clinical Hospital. Nearly every day he would drive to work in his own car – which is why he decided to join a group organized in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipro. The group helps medical personnel and staff get to work during a quarantine that’s seen almost all regional and intercity travel suspended, including the metro systems of those three cities. 

For the past two days, Andriy has been driving his colleagues from the Kyiv suburb of Irpin to the regional hospital and to the private “Dobrobut” clinic, and, if he can, drives them home. 

Who needs a ride, and from where – Andriy and the other members of the group learn via social networks. 

  • Kyiv and suburbs: Viber group “Підвези медика на роботу”

  • Lviv: Facebook group “Поїхали на роботу разом”

  • Dnipro: Viber group: “Подвези на работу Днепр”

  • Kropyvnytskyi: Viber group: “Підвези медика, Кропив-цкий”

  • Kharkiv and suburbs: Viber and Telegram groups: “Подвезу медика Харьков, обл”

  • Donetsk region: Facebook group: “Підвези медика Донеччина”

Additionally, car-sharing services Uber and Bolt have also agreed to freely transport medical staff, according to Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klychko.

All public transport in Kyiv was halted on March 23, though some routes still run exclusively for medical personnel, law enforcement, grocery store employees, and other essential groups. They are allowed to use transport only with special permits.

Transport restrictions have also been implemented in the cities of Poltava, Cherkasy, Lutsk, and Ternopil. The Lviv regional administration has organized regular routes for medical personnel who need to get to work from the edges of the regions. However, public transport – save metro systems – have not been shut down in Lviv, Kharkiv, and Dnipro.

READ MORE: How Coronavirus Changed the Life of Ukrainian Capital (PHOTOS)

Bloggers from different cities have also united and created Instagram pages, publishing information about needed products for hospitals in separate cities. They gather money to purchase anti-epidemic gear like masks and gloves. The bloggers count donated funds daily and account for purchases. Mutual aid networks of this sort have been established in Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, and Khmelnytskyi.

Tests for Soldiers

The charity fund “Return Alive”, aimed at supporting Ukraine’s frontline fighters in the Donbas, has sent 1,000 sets of coronavirus PCR tests, disinfectants, masks, and suits. The fund is continuing its work, supporting soldiers by distributing necessary preventative gears, and is open for donations here.

Helping the Elderly

The elderly comprise the biggest risk group for coronavirus. The Ministry of Health is asking people to volunteer and support elderly citizens with groceries, medicine, and disinfectants.

And public organizations that had previously worked in elder care and support have intensified their efforts. 

Charity fund “Life Lover” receives dozens of requests for support on a daily basis. And a similar amount of requests from people offering to become volunteers in Kyiv. The organization has had to cease all recreational and cultural activities which it had previously regularly organized for the elderly residents of Kyiv. Now it’s turned its full focus on material support – groceries, medicines, utility payments, and information. It has created a coordination hub to unite businesses, volunteers, and public organizations.

“We need help with cars, groceries, medicines for the needy, but most important is not to be apathetic,”  said the head of the “Life Lover” team, Stanislava Orlovska, in a comment to hromadske. “A grandma and grandpa live in each of your homes, and they can’t leave the house. Consider them a top priority.”

The fund asks for people to inform them about elderly people who need help. And donations work as well – whether they’re in cash, groceries, medicines, or even volunteering to deliver these things to those who need it. 

You can find more information on Facebook and Instagram.

The charity fund Starenki is also aimed at supporting the elderly. For the past week that Ukraine has been under quarantine, volunteers have distributed a record 300 grocery sets – a number the fund usually sets in a month. But it needs help with distribution, as well as additional funds for administrative outlays.

Ukraine’s Orthodox churches have also been helping elderly people who have fallen on hard times, by donating self-made antiseptics, which the clergy have been preparing with the help of recipes distributed by the World Health Organization. Antiseptics made in Kyiv have been distributed to Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Odesa. The churches have asked volunteers to join them in these efforts.

READ MORE: “Coronavirus Took My Job”: People Who Lost Their Jobs During the Quarantine

The Ministry of Social Policy, together with the Kyiv city administration, have created a project to support the most vulnerable residents during this quarantine. It is intended to assist with groceries, for those who live alone, residents over 80, those who need additional care, and people with disabilities. The Ministry believes there are over 1,000,000 people that fit those categories in Ukraine.

Minister of Social Policy Maryna Lazebna has also promised a monthly additional payment of $36 to 10 million pensioners, whose pensions are under $180.

Taking Care of the Homeless

Another category of people at serious risk from the coronavirus are the homeless, especially during a quarantine. They lack the ability to stay home and wash their hands frequently. And they are even more vulnerable now that Kyiv city authorities have closed down the train station, which was previously used by many homeless people as a situational shelter.

A public movement named “Youths for Peace” regularly engages in homeless support, providing them groceries, preventative materials, and antiseptics. They once were able to deliver over 300 portions of food. Recently, they’ve launched a hashtag campaign on social media, #dont_scorn, where they ask people to support the homeless or those in poverty with food and preventative materials. 

“Depaul Ukraine”, a charity fund focused on the homeless, has continued its work. They provide both food and first aid to the homeless. You can support them via this link.

In order to protect vulnerable populations in Lviv, seven local organizations have created the ‘United Charity Organization.” They are focused on helping pensioners, those in poverty, and the homeless. At the moment, they are looking for support with groceries and funding.