War is a word that tears up many hopes and dreams. For almost a year, the war has devastated families in Ukraine.
Those who are residing in the conflict-affected country lack access to essential goods.
People are struggling to win the battle of meeting basic human needs. Many limit their visits to shops, but even then, find necessary items missing.
Ukrainian national Nataliya Matviyenko, originally from Shostka, a city in Suma Oblast northeast of Ukraine, has been residing in Galway for 22 years. She explains that humanitarian aid does not reach her region in Ukraine.
“Shostka is around 65 km from the Russian border, and some people may be afraid to reach us,” she explained.
‘Help at the address’
Nataliya organised a personal project called ‘Help at the address’. The inspirational idea involves sending essential items requested for home addresses in Ukraine.
She highlights that “right now, it’s not about the money because shops don’t even have products that people need. This is about providing people with specific items”.
She stays connected with her former classmate in Ukraine, who finds families that can aid from the project. Nataliya noted: “We find out what the person specifically needs. I then try to look for people in Galway who may have that item.
“For example, if you have a teenager that needs a certain shoe size, we will try to match it, rather than sending money and not knowing where it is going.”
Currently, “parcels sent to Ukraine that weigh up to 20 kg are free of charge”. Nataliya voiced that help reaches three cities. These include “Shostka, Trostyanets and Cherkasy”.
The brutal war affected Nataliya’s family life unimaginably. She decided to help her mother flee the war-torn country and invited her to stay in Ireland. Within the first week, her mother passed away after suffering a heart attack.
“I started this project soon after I brought my mom to Ireland to escape the war. It was the 28 March. After my mom’s passing, I felt like I had to do something. A lot of people helped me at the time. This is the main reason why I started this project,” she teared up.
Behind every door that received a parcel lays gratitude. A deep appreciation of the thoughtful project shines through the pictures. Nataliya explains: “It’s great to see pictures from the families that receive the parcels because I know for myself that the items have reached the family and are not lost.”
When asked about struggles, Nataliya surprisingly noted that “it wasn’t hard to start”.
She said: “I just started with one parcel, and to date, over 100 have been organised. More people became aware of my project, and the help never stopped. Every day I receive messages of items needed by families in Shostka.
“Some Irish and Ukrainian people living in Galway send me messages, offering items they have. I then ask my classmate in Shostka to see if there is a specific need for that item,” she added.
Nataliya highlighted that she would “sometimes make a post on Facebook anyway” but she finds people talk about the project, and it spreads like wildfire.
Nataliya hopes more people will get involved in this humanitarian project. She said: “I am always open to conversation if anybody would like to help. It would be great to make this project even bigger.
“When I started it, I didn’t know it would become so big already! I might have one or two parcels being sent from time to time, and now I find myself working on it every day since,” she exclaimed.
You can contact Nataliya through her Facebook page here.