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Photo: Writer and singer Ruslan Horovyi: “It seems to me that this aid will still be needed, needed, and needed”.  Source: FB - Ruslan Horovyi
Photo: Writer and singer Ruslan Horovyi: “It seems to me that this aid will still be needed, needed, and needed”. Source: FB - Ruslan Horovyi

Writer and singer Ruslan Horovyi discusses the devastation left by the Russian army, aid for the most vulnerable, and the lifesaving deliveries of firewood.


The de-occupied (liberated from the Russian army) areas of Ukraine cover a vast territory. This includes the entire northern part of Kyiv Oblast, the northern and eastern parts of Kharkiv Oblast, a large portion of Kherson Oblast, and areas in several other regions. These areas were occupied by Russia in 2022 but have since been liberated. However, this does not mean that everything is fine in these territories; they still need assistance.


During the time the Russians were there, these areas suffered greatly from the fighting. Where the front line passed, villages were devastated. In Kyiv Oblast, for instance, villages around the town of Borodianka were destroyed. Similarly, near the capital, Irpin, Hostomel, and all the nearby villages were heavily damaged. Many buildings, both apartment blocks and private houses, were destroyed.


A similar situation occurred in Kharkiv Oblast and other regions. To bring life back to these areas, help is needed, and this is what my friends and I are involved in. We don't have a formal charity organisation. We are just people who happened to be in the right place at the right time and learned about the suffering. We followed the military into these villages and helped the remaining residents with water, food, and even burying the dead.


When you hear the stories of people in liberated villages, when you get to know them, you can't abandon them. We are doing this in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson Oblasts, and we are also supporting a village in Mykolaiv Oblast. What do we do? It depends on the needs, which change all the time.


Initially, they needed basic food, drinking water, and hygiene products. We delivered these supplies. In some places, these needs still exist because areas, particularly in Kherson Oblast, are very close to the front line. There are frequent shellings, power outages, and people can't wash their clothes or even buy basic necessities. This is especially important for the elderly, who struggle to find or afford these items. We bring them hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and laundry detergents.


In Kyiv Oblast, we mainly assist people living in rebuilt houses or in temporary shelters provided by the authorities. They often lack food and other necessities because shops are not always nearby. Sometimes the nearest shop is 20-30 kilometres away, and these people can't cover such a distance because their vehicles were either destroyed or taken by the Russians.

Russians have been stealing or destroying household appliances. Due to power supply issues, appliances often break down. Therefore, we assist with household appliances—delivering fridges and washing machines. We devised a scheme where we ask other Ukrainians, particularly in the Kyiv region, to share their spare appliances. Often, people keep their old but still functional appliances in storage after purchasing new ones. Ukrainians tend to be very thrifty with such items, and now is the perfect time to share any extras.


Additionally, we sometimes simply pay for things like electricity and gas bills. There are several families in the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions whose men were taken by Russians under the pretext that they were aiding the Ukrainian military, although these were entirely peaceful individuals. They were taken as prisoners of war but do not have POW status, and their whereabouts are unknown, possibly somewhere in Russia. Their families are unable to manage their problems alone, particularly because the country is at war. Villages and houses are often destroyed, and there is no work because the infrastructure in de-occupied territories is ruined.


For two winters, we have been helping these people in dire situations with firewood. They use old wood-burning stoves as there are no other options. We purchased and delivered firewood to them for the winter. We understand that everyone is currently raising money primarily to support the defence forces, so we do not announce monetary collections. Instead, we try to earn or attract funds from overseas communities.


As a writer, I try to sell my books at events and direct the proceeds to help. This way is easier because it is money I have earned, and I do not need to account for it, seeing everything firsthand. Last year, we bought 54 truckloads of firewood with the money earned by me and my wife, the writer Liudmyla Horova. The community in Singapore and the community in Texas helped us greatly the previous winter, purchasing even more firewood, at least 70 truckloads.


We have numerous videos that provide first-hand accounts of these personal stories. People share what they have experienced, the horrors they faced. They talk about murders, rapes, and torture committed by the Russian enemy. We then pass this evidence on to the relevant authorities. This is also part of our work.


Since the enemy continues to advance, some settlements that were previously occupied are falling under Russian control again. The situation is very unstable and unclear. It seems to me that this aid will still be needed, needed, and needed.


Therefore, I call on our international friends: help where you know, where you can.

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