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THE VOLUNTEERS

Irina Illinska

FROM Kharkiv, Ukraine

My life, like the life of many, turned into constant help.

Volunteer Irina Illinska

I am Iryna Ilyinska, an artist and a volunteer of the NGO"Loyal Heart" in the hero city of Kharkiv.
For me, the war began in 2014. Kharkiv region borders Donetsk and Luhansk regions that Russia occupied after their illegal annexation of Crimea. The military operations took place about 200 km from Kharkiv city. And in 2014, a powerful volunteer movement was formed. They helped the volunteer battalions that stood up for the defense of Ukraine.
When the full-scale war came to my city in February 2022, we carried out the volunteer work with new strength. We collected funds, looked for where to buy, how to bring and deliver the necessary clothing, ammunition, and medicines to the military.
And everything was complicated by the fact that Kharkiv was shelled every day, shops were closed, people hid in basements and the subway. Many were evacuated.
At the beginning of March, the owner of a warehouse-store gave us the keys and told us to quickly remove everything before the building was bombed. Northern Saltivka was being shelled 24 hours a day by artillery.
We went there right away. Up and down 4 flights, we managed to take out a lot --military clothing, uniforms, berets, etc. But, on the last trip, we came under mortar fire.
We left quickly. The high-rise buildings of this 'sleeping' district were burning all around. It was scary and our volunteer car's windshield was blown out by the explosive wave. The whole area was on fire!
We managed to take everything to my studio where we sorted and distributed to the fighters of the territorial defense of Kharkiv. Also, fiends from America, Poland, Italy, France responded quickly and started sending parcels with the necessary tactical medicine, ammunition, helmets, tactical gloves, knee pads, stretchers and much more.
Overnight, my art studio turned into a logistics center and storage place. My life, like the life of many, turned into constant help.

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