Social viability and war: Irina Ivanchik about the philosophy of beneficence during the hour of war

The price of social investment during the war is much higher, says Iryna Ivanchyk, co-founder of the Believe in Yourself Charitable Foundation. And a person's life depends on how timely, transparently and effectively organized humanitarian aid in wartime, writes

In the "Unbreakable" project, Iryna told how she managed to reorganize the work of the foundation, launch new humanitarian projects with an extensive network of regional hubs and establish cooperation with Ukrainian and Western donors.

A new dimension of social responsibility
The war instantly moved us all to a new dimension of social responsibility. 13 years ago, my husband and I (Viktor Ivanchyk - ed.) Founded the Believe in Yourself Charitable Foundation to systematically invest in education. Thanks to the fund's grant programs, hundreds of talented graduates from Ukrainian villages received quality education in domestic and foreign universities. Financial support was provided not only to students, but also to teachers of the Ukrainian Catholic University and the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

With the beginning of the war, the philosophy of philanthropy in Ukraine changed and set new goals for society: to help the country survive, survive, save and save the lives of Ukrainians. Thus, in "Believe in yourself" there was a separate humanitarian project - Common Help UA. In it, we focused our efforts on helping Ukrainians affected by the war.

Subsequently, our personal efforts were supported by international partners, which allowed us to scale the project: to transfer more than 11 thousand tons of humanitarian aid totaling more than 9 million US dollars. More than 500,000 evacuated Ukrainians and 130 social and medical institutions serving more than a million people have received our assistance.

Systematization, efficiency and transparency in charity are a must-have
Charity requires a lot of resources: human, time, financial, etc. And given the scale of the tasks currently facing charitable foundations, this is, in fact, the second full-fledged work, but much more responsible. Therefore, the system, efficiency and transparency of processes come to the fore here. We understood this from the very beginning, so we approached the creation of the project structure thoroughly. The backbone of the team of volunteers who provide all operational activities of the Common Help UA, including The work of two warehouses, eight regional hubs, fundraising, logistics provides financial, legal and IT support, created from highly professional specialists Astarta team.

Logistics chains for the delivery of humanitarian goods from international and Ukrainian donors are optimized. First, they get to the central warehouses. From there, mostly in equal parts, to regional hubs, whose teams, already having requests from communities or military-civil administrations, form and send parties to recipients. Depending on the situation and the distance, the delivery of aid takes 1-14 days.

Transparency and accountability were provided by our IT company, which developed a digital platform specifically for the project. Therefore, all cargoes, without exception, are recorded and entered into a common database, including and using a barcode reader system. Getting help is accompanied by documentary, photo and video recording. For each batch, the donor immediately receives a detailed report. And this is a very important and sensitive issue. For example, our first international donor, the Portuguese volunteer organization Ukrainian Refugees UAPT, was disappointed to work with Ukrainian partners because they did not understand whether their help really reached the people. So when we received the first 40 tons of medicines from them, we made a detailed report for them immediately after the transfer, they were very impressed and said that it is transparency that motivates them to seek help for Ukraine again and again.

But it should be said that the project works not only thanks to international partners, our Ukrainian side also provides the lion's share of aid and monetary donations. The Astarte team, in addition to ensuring the operational activities of the project, will donate part of their salaries. My husband also completely gave up his salary. So, despite the fact that we raise funds, we pay a lot ourselves, transfer food and other material resources.
How and whom to help
We have set clear priorities for ourselves and are helping three categories of people: local communities affected by the war, evacuees and people with disabilities. Experience shows that spraying in many areas cannot be effective.

We provide evacuees from the east and south of Ukraine with food, clothing, medicine, and organize training for children. Local communities such as Bucha, Borodyanka, Velyka Dymerka and others. we supply food, medicines, generators, building materials that would allow us to repair what is possible now.
A project has been launched to provide communities with seeds so they can plant gardens. In this way, people will have jobs, prospects and the opportunity to feed themselves, because Ukraine's economy has fallen significantly and many people have lost not only their homes but also their jobs.

Together with Carlsberg, we have provided the necessary food for almost 300 people living in the Paralympic Rehabilitation Center. Our regional hubs contacted families and learned about their needs. Carlsberg made donations, and we bought all the necessary help for this amount and delivered it to the people.

My friend and athlete Alina Shaternikova also joined our project and joins the Ukrainian and world sports community. Together with our team, she deals with targeted assistance to families from Velyka Dymerka who suffered from the occupation.

International support. What happens next
The Western world, especially humanitarian and religious organizations, has now refocused on helping immigrants who have come to live in their countries. The same Greek Diocese of Paris said it had sent the last shipment to Ukraine and would focus on helping the Ukrainian community in Paris.

The further away, the greater will be the role of the state in receiving and distributing aid. Because traditionally, Western countries have more trust in the government and large well-known organizations that have already established themselves.

Small volunteer initiatives are great, now they come together and help as needed. But large funds like ours are able to provide assistance much more efficiently - because we already have logistics, warehouses, transport and people who can do everything quickly. In addition, I believe that a person cannot be just a volunteer. She has to work and earn money, and in her free time she has to help. Then it's balance.

In my opinion, it is possible to attract private international donors only with the help of companies that have a good reputation for years. For example, if the Swiss Embassy in Ukraine, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Labor Organization or the UN World Food Program cooperate with us, it is a sign that you can trust us with your humanitarian aid and help us with donations. It seems to me that this is exactly how it works.

War as a revolution of values
War is a severe test of human will, decency, and steadfastness. Many Ukrainians find it difficult to maintain psychological balance and this is normal. But helping others, participating in charitable projects is one of the ways to bring meaning to life, make it full and rich even during the war. And constant learning, new knowledge will help.

For many, war has become a catalyst for changes in life values, especially in matters of material or social status. As for myself, I can say that I am already at the age when material things are of interest in the second place, they lose some meaning. People, social relations as a resource for the development of society, have come to the fore in my life for a long time. Therefore, in any activity I am primarily interested in the humanitarian or social component. These are not only charitable projects, but also psychological consultations, creation of a common space cultural space and much more.

War destroys the usual world around. However, this is also an incentive to try to change the world for the better than in peacetime. Therefore, even during the war, along with humanitarian projects, we continue to support our students with study grants.

Ukraine's victory and the period of its recovery will give life to new social projects. But I know for sure that the educational project, from which our charitable activity began, will remain the main and important for me. Supporting Ukrainian education is, in my opinion, a key social investment in Ukraine's future. Our task now is to reach the global level, which will allow us to attract more investments to Ukraine in the future, to bring Ukrainians home. I am confident that this is the only way we will overcome all challenges and become one of the most developed countries in Europe and the world. And maybe we will become better, who knows.

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