The Glue of Society

23 January, 01:10 PM
Serhiy Prytula (Photo:instagram.com/siriy_ua/)

Serhiy Prytula (Photo:instagram.com/siriy_ua/)

No one has united and changed Ukrainian society throughout the history of its independence like the volunteer movement and the Ukrainian army. This story of unity must continue.

The whole country is now made up of volunteers. Almost everyone who is not fighting is helping the army in their own way. Ukrainians are doing the impossible every day to provide the country's armed forces at all levels with everything they need.

One person brings a pickup truck in from abroad for friends who are serving, while another raises money on Facebook to buy a drone for his father to the front line. А whole village pools their money to buy a thermal imager for a unit formed from its residents that is now fighting in the Donetsk region.

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Schools and kindergartens organize fairs. Children on the streets of villages and cities set up roadside collections. Universities hold charity auctions and raise funds for units their instructors are serving in. In the evenings, pensioners weave camouflage nets and make trench candles to send to the front through volunteer neighbors they know.

Large foundations work to provide for battalions and brigades, buying everything from pallets worth of communications equipment to unmanned aerial systems and electronic intelligence equipment for entire sectors of the front. Volunteer communities regularly bring vehicles and generators to the units they have supported for months.

Some send small amounts each day with their morning coffee or larger funds from every paycheck. Others give away their savings built up over two years for a new car.

It is unity that makes us effective and invincible

Everyone is doing something. And there are millions of us Ukrainian volunteers. We are doing this in order to survive and preserve our country. We are working to win. But even after the victory, we must not stop.

The last thing I want is for the volunteers to sit back after our eventual victory and say, “That's it, let's all get back to how things were before.” No, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Volunteers are the glue of our society. No one has united and changed Ukrainian society the history of its independence like the volunteer movement and the Ukrainian army. This story of unity must continue.

Together we can do more. Ukrainian volunteers lent a helping hand to the country in 2014, and even more have done so with the start of the full-scale Russian invasion in 2022.

We have already proven through our deeds that volunteers are an integral part of the state defense system. The troops only have some types of equipment [1] because the volunteer movement provided them. According to statistics from the Ministry of Defense, half of the provision of body armor in the first two months of a full-scale war was done by volunteers. Volunteers have supplied thousands of small civilian drones for reconnaissance and artillery adjustment. Our Western partners are watching with amazement how this volunteer equipment is making the modern weapons provided to Ukraine even more effective on the battlefield.

Ukraine offers a unique example of synergy between society and government, which works based on trust and coordination for the common goal of helping the army. After our victory, we will have a new common goal — the restoration of Ukraine, and volunteers will be full participants in this process.

The volunteer movement has earned a great deal of trust from society, which is embodied in the form of systemic donations to both large funds and individual initiatives. Thanks to this trust, the Ukrainian Armed Forces receive the necessary support. When the threat of the destruction of our country disappears, this trust must be converted into more civilian purposes through national and local reconstruction initiatives.

The scale of destruction is too great. It is clear that the donor countries will conduct intergovernmental communication and provide funds for post-war projects, but we are aware that the state will not be able to conduct all processes at the same time.

There will be a certain queue and priorities. For example, the urgency of restoring a paramedic station in a community of several hundred people may seem small in comparison to the need to repair the Antonovsky Bridge and connect the two banks of the Dnipro. But for this community, their medical needs are no less important. We see that foundations and volunteer groups can take on this scope of work because they are capable of handling management, logistics, and the administration of funds on this level of complexity. This must be done.

We all strive so that, in addition to restoring our infrastructure, we also rebuild our society and not lose unity. It is unity that makes us effective and invincible.

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