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Grigory Koldunov, Director of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center: «I am grateful for the opportunity to help people!»


Helping people is a difficult profession. It requires a pure soul and a huge commitment. But the willing to help and compassion to the disaster, which Donbas civilians are currently facing, become the best motivation for effective work on rendering of assistance.

A special film "Battle for people", the journalistic story dedicated to the first anniversary of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center operation, will be released on August 16 on "Ukraina" TV channel.  As part of the project, the Director of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center told about his life choice, dedication and hard work of volunteers and what he believes to be the main achievements of the Humanitarian Center over this year. We would like to bring his interview to your attention:

- Grigory, what was your head motive to start working at the Humanitarian Center?

- Before my transfer to Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center I had been working in DTEK for 10 years and I was practically never involved in organization of processes on humanitarian aid delivery, as you understand. But when the founder offered me to become the head of the Humanitarian Center in late December, it took me just five minutes to think it over.  I had absolutely no experience in this kind of activity. But I had a great willingness to help our fellow townsmen. I am from Donetsk and all my relatives are staying there, in the capital of miners' region, despite the active military actions in Donbas. Only my wife and children moved to Kyiv with me. So this willing to help and compassion to the disaster, which is being observed across the contact line, inspired me and I accepted the offer.

-  What challenges have you faced in your work during this period?

- The most difficult thing is not the work itself, but the inner feelings and emotions arising during the frequent visits of non-government-controlled areas of Donbas. And communication with different people who live across the contact line. Looking at the current events in the light of the information coming to us from the media is one thing. But when you get there yourself and talk to people, you realize that the rift between the residents of one country, which is often mentioned in the media, has actually occurred.  Moreover, it's not even a rift, it is a gap.

- Is it possible to bridge this gap between the people in the near future? What is your opinion?

- Like the founder of the Humanitarian Center, Rinat Akhmetov, I also believe that we all will live in one country.

- What does helping people mean to you?

- In my point of view, the Humanitarian Center is a unique organization. Everybody in it, starting from the founder and ending up with volunteers at Donbas Arena, is working on fulfilling one mission: helping people, their fellow townsmen. "Random" people do not stay in our team for too long. They just don't understand how it is possible to works with such volumes within tight schedule and high level of risk, so they get screened out real quick.

- So who is working in the Humanitarian Center now?

- The employees who are working at the Humanitarian Center now are really grateful just for having the opportunity to participate in such a project. And they will continue to take part in it while our fellow countrymen need this help. Personally for me, all the people working at the Humanitarian Center have one thing in common: they have strong personality. It consist of willing to help, person's ability to empathize with events across the contact line, readiness for some sacrifices, such as giving your personal time and sacrifice health, because it's not a secret that volunteers and Humanitarian Center's employees are exposed to "professional burnout". But they not only never give up, they also show the amazing results of their work that I'll be proud of for many years, telling my children about them.

Over the year our friendly and professional team of 2,500 volunteers and 80 Humanitarian Center's employees managed to build the most effective system of humanitarian aid delivery to Donbas civilians and become the largest supplier of humanitarian goods in Ukraine.

- Grigory, what are the main pride and the major achievement of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center over the year of its operation?

- Our main achievement is more 930,000 people who were personally provided with assistance from the Humanitarian Center over 12 months of its operation. 750,000 of them are elderly and disabled people, 48,000 are children. I find it very important. I am not ready to comment and compare our figures with the figures of international humanitarian organizations, but I think that the number of people who got help from the Humanitarian Center is much higher than international missions’ number. And we should be proud of it. And the fact that Rinat Akhmetov does not reduce the volumes of humanitarian aid under any circumstances is very precious.