Arena of Mercy: two years without help
Two years have passed since the shutdown of a logistics center of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s largest program, the Humanitarian Headquarters at Donbas Arena in Donetsk. Almost from the very first days of the conflict and until February 2017, the best stadium in Eastern Europe served as the “Arena of Mercy” for the region’s civilians. A logistical system of distributing humanitarian aid, the only one of its kind in Ukraine, has been developed and launched there. Today, people in Donetsk recall with sadness the times when the “Arena of Mercy” looked like a clockwork operated by up to 500 volunteers per day. Among these volunteers were former Shakhtar stars, fans, teachers and coal miners.
Everyone knew that they had to act fast because people needed urgent help, and therefore, the unloading of one truck with food from the Humanitarian Headquarters was taking less than half an hour, with up to 15 trucks being unloaded simultaneously. After that, survival parcels were stuffed with flour, groats and oil bottles, each weighting about 14 kg. It’s hard to believe it, but it’s true: stuffing one parcel was taking only 52 seconds!
Thanks to this approach, over 8.4 million food parcels have been stuffed at the “Arena of Mercy” for the duration of its operation. These parcels were distributed among the most socially vulnerable categories of population: pensioners, people with disabilities, children and single mothers. The Rinat Akhmetov parcels saved people from dying.
‘One of the elderly recipients of humanitarian aid told us that she and her 100-year-old mother were on the verge of committing suicide. They simply had nothing to eat in the fall of 2014, when they couldn’t receive their pension payments for almost four months. And when they decided to leave this life, first trucks with food from Rinat Akhmetov’s Humanitarian Headquarters arrived to the city. Thanks to this aid, the recipient’s old mother was able to live another year and a half’, Olha, a volunteer from Shchastia recalls.
On 28 February 2017, the logistics center at Donbas Arena was shut down, and some time later, the Foundation’s entire operations in the government-uncontrolled territory (UCT) were blocked. As a result, 500,000 people were left without help. Today, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation continues to operate in all hotspots in the government-controlled territory of Eastern Ukraine. In particular, the unique logistics system created at Donbas Arena has moved to Mariupol. From there, food parcels are delivered to 85 towns and villages located along the confrontation line.
Still, children from UCT continue to receive Rinat Akhmetov’s help. In the government-controlled territory, they can participate in a number of the Foundation’s projects, such as “Peaceful Summer for Children in the Donbas!”, “Rehabilitation of Wounded Children”, “Medicines for Children”, “I Can Hear Now” and “Healthy Heart”. As of today, over 150 thousand children have already received help from Rinat Akhmetov under these projects, including medications, food parcels, innovative implants, physical and psychological rehabilitation, complex surgeries, etc.
For detailed information about the Foundation’s programs and projects, call the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation hotline at 0800-509-001.