To know and to remember. BLOG by Rimma Fil
An exhibition dedicated to the activities of the largest humanitarian mission in Ukraine - Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center – was opened in Mariupol.
There is good reason for Mariupol to be chosen for the first exhibition of such kind. It was here where the first humanitarian aid convoys arrived. It was the first city to give shelter for the people affected by war. It was Mariupol that became the salvation for thousands and thousands of people. This coastal city knows too well what the peace is and what the war is.
By Rinat Akhmetov’s decision, in August 2014 the Humanitarian Center was opened. Its mission and task have been and remain unchanged - to provide as much assistance as possible to the compatriots affected by the hostilities. Back in 2014, when we started working in the Center, none of us could have thought that it was for years and that the help would be so large-scale. Over 5 thousand volunteers took part in the Humanitarian Center’s work. These are the product truck and minibuses drivers that took people out of the military hell. These are the packers, the hotline operators, psychologists.
The exposition in History Museum of Ilyich Iron and Steel Works of Mariupol tells about those people, ordinary heroes of today.
I will remember this day forever. On August 22, the first humanitarian aid convoy arrived to Azov market of Mariupol. It was 60 trucks with food and basic necessities: cereals, sugar, flour, pasta, canned goods, sunflower oil, baby food, personal care products, diapers, matches, salt and candles. The cargo was intended for 200 thousand internally displaced persons from Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
From that day on, the daily joint work of Mariupol metallurgical enterprises’ volunteers and the Center has started. In total, about 1.5 million adult product packages and more than 125,000 children's ones were formed with the hundreds of Mariupol volunteers’ hands.
The date of January 24, 2015 is a separate line in the history of both the Center and the city. That Saturday, the Left bank of the city and Vostochnyi district were shelled with the MRLS 'Grad'. 30 civilians died, many of them were wounded, infrastructure was destroyed, there was no mobile connection. So the help of volunteers of other specialization was needed – of the psychologists who worked with the wounded and the victims’ relatives in hospitals and of the builders who helped to restore the buildings and coped with destructions. We needed the diversified help.
Back then the Center operated on the basis of two logistic centers. From “Donbas Arena”, the aid was transported all through the uncontrolled territory, and from Mariupol it was delivered to the internally displaced persons and the “grey zone” residents. But after February 28, 2017, when “Donbas Arena” was seized and the Humanitarian Center operation was blocked, Azov market in Mariupol remained the only point of the humanitarian aid collection. From here, the mobile teams go to provide targeted assistance every day.
The mission of the Center has indeed become historical. Over the course of its operation, more than a million people have been saved. So it is necessary to know and remember the everyday Center’s life.