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General Assembly 2024 Stories

10th June 2024

INTERVIEWED BY KLÁRA JIŘIČNÁ

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

BIO

Vita joined ACT Alliance member Hungarian Interchurch Aid as a project coordinator in 2015. She was responsible for overseeing the office management of Dnipropetrovsk and Kyiv offices. She oversaw capacity-building activities, psychosocial assistance program coordination, as well as program design, implementation, and coordination. In 2022 she was invited to coordinate the activities of the new ACT Ukraine Forum where she serves as a connecting link between ACT secretariat and members.

When I reached out to Vita and asked her for the interview, she apologized as the city of Dnipro, where her office is based was heavily bombed that night and she did not feel at full strength for the interview. We waited a few days for her to feel better. This has been a daily reality for staff based in Ukraine and led me to my first question:

WHY GET INVOLVED IN HUMANITARIAN WORK?

“At some point, I realized that I can’t feel happy and fulfilled in my life unless my job involves helping my country and its people.”

When the war started in 2014 after the 3-month Revolution of Dignity and Euromaidan, we all felt we needed to unite as a nation and work our way to a better future for all of us. Our hearts ached to see the best of us giving up their lives to pave the way to a better future for our country. Things that happened since 2013 have left a never-healing wound in our souls. I couldn’t leave my country bleeding like that.

Vita finds her job hard and demanding but in the face of the hardships and suffering of her fellow Ukrainians who have lost their houses, health, future, and some of their lives – she keeps going.

WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING?

To keep your sanity with all the news coming in every day, with all the missile & drone attacks, human death and suffering, and destruction of cities and lives. To this day, I dream to wake up and find out this all was just a nightmare. It is unthinkable something like this could be happening in Europe in the 21st century while the whole world is watching.

WHAT BRINGS YOU HOPE?

Seeing my fellow Ukrainians not giving up. We, Ukrainians, are extremely grateful to the international community that supports us. The help and the compassion that we have received will never be forgotten. When the full-scale war broke out, it was the people of the world, who lent us their hands and helped us not fall.

Unfortunately, it becomes harder and harder to get funding as time goes by; the war here becomes forgotten and invisible.

This all is heartbreaking as the needs are almost still the same; millions of Ukrainians struggle to feed their families: displaced or locally affected, they are psychologically traumatized and have no hope in sight – with the economy at its worst and the conflict that as seems will last for many years to come.

Here, every night when we go to bed – we do not know if we are going to wake up, because missiles and drones destroying residential buildings and killing its civilian inhabitants have been a terrible almost everyday reality in Ukraine for 2 years already. Seeing ACT Ukraine Forum members come strongly together to help those who suffer in my country – reminds me of the kindness of true humanity, of strong bonds of kind hearts across the world, of a powerful shoulder we can rely on, and it gives me strength to keep on going.

WHERE DOES YOUR RESILIENCE COME FROM?

It stems from our deepest roots: the Ukrainians always loved freedom the most. Some of us love it to the point of readiness to make an ultimate sacrifice – give up our lives for it. As one of our sayings goes: “Freedom or death”. Also, our society has a unique trait – the ability to unite and act as one during the hardest times and fight till the end at any cost (examples: Orange Revolution, Revolution of Dignity, full-scale invasion, etc.). Our volunteers are the major driving force in our society – active members of communities who tirelessly work for the good of our country.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED?

The biggest lesson learned for us as the ACT Ukraine Forum was the constant need for security coordination, especially closer to the front lines (the latest incidents made it even clearer). I also believe we need to unite more around advocacy, as we are stronger as ACT Forum when we advocate in a unified voice.