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The story of volunteer Zhenya

I think that helping those suffering from the war is the right thing to do

-How long have you been in Georgia and why did you move here? 

– We arrived here on the 11th of April: me, my wife and our cat. We did not think that we’d leave Russia when the war broke out. The turning point for us was the adoption of several repressive laws: on military censorship, on fake news (concerning the war), and on discreditation of the Russian army. We can’t call a war something other than ‘war’. My wife works as a journalist, and it is dangerous to be an independent journalist in Russia. So, we decided to move to Georgia. 

– Why did you decide to help? 

– I think that helping those suffering from the war is the right thing to do,  especially when the war is waged in our name, by our state. Another reason was to preserve my mental health: to feel that I am doing something useful, to keep myself occupied with something. Most importantly, helping is simply gratifying. I have volunteered for various charities. It feels good to do something meaningful. 

-Why did you decide to help? 

– I think that helping those suffering from the war is the right thing to do,  especially when the war is waged in our name, by our state. Another reason was to preserve my mental health: to feel that I am doing something useful, to keep myself occupied with something. Most importantly, helping is simply gratifying. I have volunteered for various charities. It feels good to do something meaningful. 

-What does Emigration for Action mean to you? 

– I like all of the anti-war projects currently operating in Tbilisi. What I liked about Emigration for Action in particular was the systematic work with volunteers. EfA promptly arranged an introductory meeting, we got to know each other, and we learnt how we could help. I am able to plan my tasks weeks in advance. I like such a systematic approach, especially in the non-profit sector, and especially now, when everything is burning. 

-What prompted you to arrange public fundraising for this project? 

-One day, when I was on duty distributing medication to refugees, I saw that we didn’t have enough resources despite a large waiting list of orders. There was one moment that upset me in particular: the guys in our team had to pay for the delivery from their own pocket, and we had to cut down our spending on medical supplies. We had less money and more help requests with each passing day.

When I saw this problem, I donated as much as I could. And then the idea of fundraising came to my mind. I’ve only got a thousand followers on Instagram, and most of them are my acquaintances. However, even with that sort of audience, it is possible to raise a decent amount.

The next day, I posted a few stories on Instagram. I told about what Emigration for Action does, what I do for the project; I shared some of the stories from the people we help. The people could send money on my bank account, and they could monitor how much we’ve collected in real time – it was a good decision in terms of transparency. People would send 50 roubles, 100 roubles each (1-2 US dollars), but in the end we’d raised a rather nice amount. I collected 40,000 roubles on my card alone, and some people sent money directly to the project’s account. We received enough money to meet the demand for medical supplies for several days.

-Is there any one story of Ukrainian refugees that you remember the most? 

-I remember all of the interactions I’ve had with Ukrainians here. Behind each of them is a unique human experience that is both interesting and tragic. I once accompanied an old man from Mariupol to a clinic. He was born in 1935. He survived World War II there, but had to leave during the Russian invasion in Ukraine. He told me that he spent a month in a basement, and I felt so ashamed that I wanted the earth to swallow me up. He said that even Hitler’s invasion was not that horrific as this one, and that he could not understand why the city had to be razed to the ground and then burned down. It is impossible to forget such a story…

17 August 2022

Georgia, Tbilisi, St. Petersburg street 7
NNLE Emigration for Action
ID: 404675561
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