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12 million of survival kits, or the Duty to be a leader. BLOG by Oleksandr Vyshniakov, the director of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre


Assistance to those in need in Ukraine has become a mass phenomenon. On Sunday, the country celebrated the Day of Charity, and today this is not just a date on the calendar, but a socially significant event. It's nice to realize that Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and the Humanitarian Centre created by him are the leading part of this flow.

The Foundation began to be engaged in charity more than 12 years ago. During this period, we have implemented projects that we are justly proud of: programmes to preserve the national health, programmes to fight tuberculosis and oncological diseases. The eight years of operation of “Say No to Orphanhood!” portal should be mentioned too, which over this period has helped to find parents for more than 8,800 children.

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has also helped Ukrainian education and Ukrainian culture from its early days. Thanks to our assistance, Lviv Natural History Museum, which had been closed for more than 20 years, resumed its work.

And, of course, Rinat Akhmetov could not stay away when the war started in the east of Ukraine. Humanitarian Centre was established in August 2014, when millions of Donbas residents left their homes to flee the fighting, and millions remained, taking the risk of death under shelling every day. Our concern was about human lives, and it was impossible to hesitate.

In the first days of the Humanitarian Centre operation, the first humanitarian convoy was sent to Donbas, and fixed distribution centres were deployed. We started from scratch, without time to prepare and gain pace.

Today the project, launched 40 months ago, has turned into the largest humanitarian mission in Ukrainian history. 308 convoys have already been sent to the combat zone with 6,606 trucks to carry more than 132 tons of products. 25 fixed distribution centres have been deployed, where Donbas residents have received nearly 12 million survival kits, including 870,000 children's kits.

Not all those who needed help could get it at fixed distribution centres, so mobile delivery teams were created. During their 516 visits to hard-to-reach settlements, 391,095 product packages were distributed. More than 46,000 packages were brought home to lonely seriously ill elderly and disabled people. The principle of “helping everyone who is in need” became the rule for the Humanitarian Centre.

The village of Vodiane is on the front line, next to Donetsk airport. Because of constant shelling, most of the residents left, but some of them stayed. For those who have stayed there is neither transport connection nor medical assistance.

In the neighbouring village of Pivdenne only one family lives. According to OSCE, the number of people living on the demarcation line is 200,000. For them, Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre’s assistance is the only chance to survive.

Until the end of February this year, we also helped the civilians on the uncontrolled territories. But the work of the Humanitarian Centre in the uncontrolled territory was blocked on February, 28 of 2017, and later banned. Half a million people were left without assistance.

According to sociologists, activities of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre are positively assessed not only by 80% of the region's residents, but also by 76% of all the citizens of Ukraine.

Leadership is a burden. We continue to expand the number of projects we are working on. Today, the Humanitarian Centre is associated not only with product packages for Donbas residents, but also with “Medications for Children”, “Healthy Heart”, “Rehabilitation of Injured Children” projects and work in many other directions.

Today we go where there are those in need. When you know that people's lives depend on you, you cannot help going there.