When country calls. War forced 100% Life patient organization to broaden its help to Ukraine

18 May, 03:29 PM
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100% Life

100% Life

100% Life is the largest patient organization in Ukraine, the main activity of which is to provide treatment to people living with HIV / AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis. After the beginning of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the organization has expanded its activities: now they buy bulletproof vests for ambulance drivers and military, evacuate people from hotspots and deliver humanitarian aid.

"For us, it all started a month before the war. It was then that I convened our board of directors and we drafted a security plan. For any organization, I think it is natural to plan the future of your team, to model scenarios for further development. Because telling people that "everything will be fine" is a less effective way to reassure them than when you say, "We have a plan of action," said Dmytro Sherembey, chairman of the 100% Life Coordinating Council.

Dmytro Sherembey,

chairman of the 100% Life Coordinating Council

The main work direction of 100% Life is to provide quality treatment to people living with HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis in different regions of Ukraine. These include providing adults and children with HIV status with antiretroviral therapy (ART), nursing, palliative care, organizing and opening community centers, children's centers, self-help groups, therapy camps, and more.

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Фото: 100% Life

Even before February 24, 2022 - the day when Russia carried out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, 100% Life managed to move all warehouses to Ivano-Frankivsk region, change the security system of resource defense, determine the location of the headquarters and more. And also - to model how, in case of invasion the organization would be able to provide a migration cycle of employees, says Dmitry Sherembey. In total, more than 3.5 thousand social workers are involved in various 100% Life projects. The organization has formed in advance lists of those employees who have expressed readiness to go to war, who would want to stay in their city, and who would want to go.

"We have shared our plan with similar organizations. We also wrote to the Ministry of Health with recommendations to create drafts of orders - how they would act in the event of a full-scale war. Border regions should have made several decisions so that in the event of an invasion, all medicines stored in warehouses, which are necessary for people for daily consumption, should have been handed over, - says Dmitry Sherembey. - Thus, it could, firstly, unload the warehouses, and secondly, people would not experience a shortage of drugs. We also recommended that all supplies of medicines be deployed not in the central part of Ukraine, but in the western regions. Unfortunately, the ministry did not listen to our plan."

To train its employees, the 100% Life Network conducted three training modules. The first module was tactical medicine, the second was teaching the necessary strategies and tactics in case the war has already begun. The third was an algorithm of action for a civilian who is at the epicenter of hostilities.

100% Life
Фото: 100% Life

Thus, after February 24, the organization was able to quickly reformat its work with minimal losses, and expand its activities. In this way, they began to help not only their usual target audience, but also, in fact, all those who need help - volunteers, civilians and the military.

“We have launched a large product program - we have purchased more than 40 tons of dry rations. We also launched an evacuation project called the Chain of Life, as well as a number of shelters in various cities of Ukraine, so that people can stop somewhere, rest, get medical advice if necessary, and move on. In particular, they also took care of the possibility of transporting people to Poland. And also - changed the program of assistance to customers, introducing many mobile services,"- says Dmitry Sherembey.

The 100% Life Network also managed to organize humanitarian corridors. On average, the organization's warehouses receive about 20 tons of various goods daily. As of now, the recipients have already managed to deliver about 50 tons of bulletproof vests - this is another part of the work of the Charitable Organization. The Ukrainian military is provided with medicines, fuel, first aid kits and personal protective equipment.

100% Life
Фото: 100% Life

After a grueling day, we had to hold several hours of negotiations with potential investors on the zoom - due to the fact that some of them are in the US, these meetings were held at night to take into account the time difference, explains the chairman of the 100% Life Board.

100% Life
Фото: 100% Life
"These are people who could invest not necessarily money, but, for example, first aid kits, bulletproof vests and other useful tools. It turned out that we are able to work not 100%, but 200%. 200% of Life - I think it could be our new name now".

People

“The main mission declared by 100% of Life during the years of its existence is the struggle for life. Today, when Ukraine is facing a real military threat, the Charitable Organization team has only confirmed its commitment to these principles, says Dmytro Sherembey. The public sector, without any weapons, has demonstrated its readiness to integrate into the overall process of resistance”, he added:

"Ukraine differs in that we have very organized civil movements. The war showed that most people immediately take an active position and start doing something. Different people who wanted to help also started to join our movement - with different experiences, with their own cars. Eventually, these activists and volunteers became territorial defense soldiers. "
100% Life
Фото: 100% Life

100% of Life undertook another important mission - the evacuation of people from hotspots in Kyiv region and Chernihiv. During the attack on the city, the Russian military bombed bridges, leaving only one as a "backup option". However, wasn’t allowed to evacuate people by it. So Sherembey's team worked out a route on the water - they took medicine and other aid for people to Chernihiv by boat, and then they also took people out of there.

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Фото: 100% Life

On March 30, 2022, when five 100% Life Volunteers left for Chernihiv once again, the Russian military fired on their convoy. Of the five buses, only one managed to escape from the shelling on the punctured wheels.

"There is an area where there is no connection - this is a "pit" in which people stay for about four hours. And only when they leave, you can find out how successful the trip was. As it turned out, four hours later it was not our volunteers who got in touch, but a policeman. He began to ask me if I knew Nastya, a girl who was in one of our buses and whom we were to take to Chernihiv. It was the moment I realized that something went wrong," Dmytro Sherembey recalls of the day.

As a result of this shelling, three people died, including the husband of People's Deputy Olga Stefanyshyna, Bohdan Stefanyshyn. On that day, volunteers were to evacuate 45 people from Chernihiv. Prior to that, their team had already evacuated 150 people from the shellings. After this tragic incident, the 100% Life team made six more evacuation trips.

"Loss is an integral part of war. We take risks for the sake of victory, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our future. Internally, we all agree that us or those close to us can die. I think this is what distinguishes Ukrainians: we do not have nuclear weapons, but there are fantastic people who are willing to risk their own lives," said Dmytro Sherembey.
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Фото: 100% Life

He says that Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers are people who can set an example for the whole world. Ukrainian volunteer is stronger than some international humanitarian missions:

"They have not shown any effectiveness in this conflict. They are completely incapacitated. On the contrary, some even opened their offices in Russia, although they should close them there and work in Ukraine. But we proved that a Ukrainian volunteer can do more, he is stronger than humanitarian missions, so we need to invest in him."

Medicine

Even during the war, the 100% Life units continue to work with their main target audience - to provide support to HIV patients and HIV-vulnerable groups in all regions of Ukraine where possible. Large national projects, supported by the Global Fund and USAID, are being implemented as much as possible, adapting approaches to the needs of patients in wartime. Perhaps the most important area here is the provision of antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV. After all, in order to achieve the effect of treatment, it must be taken regularly and uninterruptedly.

Here HIV + patients can learn where and how to receive therapy

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Фото: 100% Life

Usually, the state provides antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV. However, with the beginning of a full-scale invasion with the establishment of these processes, difficulties arose. Therefore, the 100% Life Network has taken on this role of continuously providing HIV patients with the necessary treatment in consultation with donors. Yevhenia Rudenko is responsible for this area of ​​work. She is responsible for purchasing and supplying ART therapy for all HIV-positive clients

The main part of imported medicines that enter Ukraine comes through Kyiv. Usually - through Boryspil airport, explains Yevhenia Rudenko. With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the skies over Ukraine were closed, so the 100% Life Network was faced with the question of how to import drugs in the future.

Yevhenia Rudenko,

Head of Procurement and Supply Management Team в «100% життя»

"European countries reacted to this and proposed the following scheme: the plane can land, for example, in Warsaw, then, through Poland, these drugs will be delivered in transit by land. Our Network immediately began to cooperate with Poland in this area, using their warehouses and strategic reserves, - says Eugene Rudenko about how logistics is organized. - We found out that delivery of such goods is carried out through Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian railway). That is, we also had to make additional arrangements with UZ so that we could “snatch” our goods where we needed them, rather than waiting for them to go to general state distribution warehouses. That would be a very long time. We agreed".

Then there was an opportunity to negotiate with other companies that could draw up 100% Life humanitarian documents and bring the goods to their own warehouses in Lviv. We were also looking for people who would be willing to deliver goods to different regions of Ukraine - directly to those who need these drugs.

100% Life
Фото: 100% Life

By completely restructuring the logistics of ARV therapy delivery to the country, 100% Life will be able to provide HIV treatment for the next six months. With the support of the PEPFAR program, the drugs were purchased and delivered to all regions of Ukraine.

Another issue is the provision of people living with drug addiction with substitution maintenance therapy (SMT). SMT clients living in the temporarily occupied territories found themselves in a difficult situation in 2014-2015, when pro-Russian militants began occupying the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Residents of those areas where active hostilities are taking place today also have difficulties with access to SMT. Such clients are helped to receive reserve substitution maintenance therapy.

“Our clients are mostly recipients of substitution-maintenance therapy. Most of them found themselves in a difficult situation. So, we not only helped them to receive SMT for 30 days, according to the order of the Ministry of Health, but also delivered food and other humanitarian aid to those who need it. For example, in the town of Rubizhne in the Luhansk region, patients were nervous about doctors giving them drugs until Saturday, and they told them to come on Monday. We resolved the issue, reassured SMT clients and agreed that the distribution of drugs was on Sunday,” said Oleksiy Kvitkovsky, an employee of Charitable Organization Volna. He works in Luhansk region.

Oleksiy Kvitkovsky,

an employee of Charitable Organization Volna. He works in Luhansk region

Needs

Since the beginning of the war, among the donors who support new projects and already help 100% Life financially are the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States, the Elena Pinchuk Foundation, the German Embassy in Ukraine. And also - ordinary citizens who donate money so that the organization can help Ukraine defeat the aggressor. Thanks to these donations, as of now, 100% Life has already managed to raise about UAH 25 million, of which UAH 11 million in the first month of the war. Assistance has already been provided to various military and medical institutions in various cities of Ukraine: maternity hospitals, hospitals, military medical centers, etc.

"Before that, we had never worked with donations, only with large operational resources. So it was a big surprise for me that Ukrainians started donating to us. And this is very flexible, fast money that can be processed quickly", explains Dmytro Sherembey.

As of now, according to him, the most urgent needs for Ukraine are not of a financial nature, but of specific targeted assistance. For example, bulletproof vests, knee pads, first aid kits, dry rations and food kits for the civilian population, hygiene products for soldiers in the trenches, protected communications equipment, and so on.

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Фото: 100% Life

If we think more globally, Ukraine today also needs geopolitical support in matters related to security and sanctions. After all, Russia could have been stopped eight years ago if the European Union and the United States had imposed all the sanctions against it that are being imposed only now, Dmitry Sherembey said:

100% Life
Фото: 100% Life
"Millions of people are suffering, thousands are dying, losing loved ones, because security policy is a lie. To date, this war has shown that all these mechanisms are inoperable. We really need a new policy in the world: not a declarative one, but one that will really guarantee our security. If there are war crimes, they should be punished in a flash."
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Фото: 100% Life

Anyone can help CO 100% Life today - you just need to follow the link https://network.org.ua/donate-ua.

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