A year of full-scale war has passed. Since February 24, 2022, the life of every Ukrainian has changed. The enemy planned to quickly capture Ukraine but met with fierce resistance. The entire nation has demonstrated unity and commitment to achieve Victory.
After February 24, 2022, many civil society organizations were faced with the challenge: to continue operations in the areas of hostilities or evacuate to safer regions of Ukraine. Relocation seemed a good way to preserve the team and equipment. NGO “Fishermen’s Club of Ukraine – UA Fishing Club” went for relocation. The organization has been operating since 2018. Its founders are fishermen community activists in Kramatorsk, the Donetsk region. After the commencement of the full-scale Russian invasion, due to the threat of shelling, the core team moved to Khmelnytskyi. Later, this nongovernmental organization launched the TATOhub (DaddyHub) project with two parent support centers operating in Uzhhorod and Ternopil. Over the year, the organization has expanded its activities to 11 regions of Ukraine. Currently, the team consists of 1000 persons.
Due to constant bombardments, the move had been postponed several times. According to Yaroslav Boyko, head of the NGO “Fishermen’s Club of Ukraine – UA Fishing Club”, the Khmelnytsky region offers excellent logistics for the team. You can get to Kramatorsk by car in a day. In addition, in the first months into the full-scale war, the city became a refuge for people who were forced to leave their homes due to shelling.
“At first, we moved the “brain of the organization” to Khmelnytskyi – financial team, project managers, and communication professionals. These people quickly set up the humanitarian and psychological aid organization as well as legal counselling,” said Yaroslav Boyko in his interview to Gazeta.ua. At the same time, the TATOHub was opened in Khmelnytskyi, which became the organization’s headquarters to help IDPs. The team managed to ship some furniture, office equipment and supplies from Kramatorsk to their new place to organize events: in particular, inflatable boats, tents, sleeping bags, balls, ropes, jump ropes, cauldrons, dishes, and camping stoves. The relocation of the core team by bus had been put on hold several times because of the city shelling. In addition, the office in Kramatorsk was flooded, and the NGO’s team lost some equipment and archives. However, the premises have already been repaired. The organization’s coordinators continue to work there. “The team started organizing events in Khmelnytskyi in late summer 2022,” says Yaroslav.
The organization was able to launch its activities in full thanks to funding from East Europe Foundation. As part of the Stiykist’ Programme, the NGO won a grant of UAH 750 thousand. The money was used to pay for rent and utilities, salaries, and partially for events. In addition, the team was able to participate in trainings organized by East Europe Foundation.
Yaroslav Boyko, head of the NGO “Fishermen’s Club of Ukraine – UA Fishing Club”
According to Vira Nedzvedska, East Europe Foundation Program Manager, since the summer of 2022, the Foundation has been consistently providing grants for NGO relocation.
“It was difficult to find an office. Rent in Khmelnytskyi is not cheap. We needed a space of at least 100 square meters and the rent contract had to be properly executed. The organization’s core team consists of 11 people. In addition, we employ a local photographer, a communication manager, a lawyer, and a psychologist. We hired an event manager from Mariupol. In addition to the organization members, there are other people who ask for help,” says Yaroslav Boyko.
“The goal of the Stiykist’ Programme is to support civil society organizations and the media during the war. 15 NGOs (non-governmental organizations – Gazeta.ua) received grants for relocation, settling in a new place, implementing projects related to the IDP adaptation and integration, including displaced NGOs. A number of useful online courses were created on the Zrozumilo! Online Educational Platform, and workshops were held for IDP host communities,” said Vira Nedzvedska. “By the way, at every workshop for communities held in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Poltava regions, the issue of funding was raised. The money is there, but we need the will and motivation to take it and use it.”
The NGO managed to completely reformat the Khmelnytskyi Youth Council. Young people are actively involved in volunteering. This includes sorting humanitarian aid and helping to organize events. About 60 people helped to clean the riverbank as part of a volunteer eco-cleanup. The Youth Council involved students from a Mariupol school that was also relocated to the Khmelnytskyi region. The Fishermen’s Club team has also established communication with local authorities. Now they jointly organize events and write programs. They joined the initiative group to create an IDP council.
“We provide crisis and legal counseling, conduct psychological trainings. We organize offsite camps for IDP families to bring people together. For example, we held events at the municipal recreational “Coast of Hope” Center. Together with the Khmelnytsky Military Council, we organized excursions for IDPs. We are also a member of the Child Protection Cluster. We regularly organize workshops and psychological trainings for kids in a way that is both fun and educational. Our environmentalist also organizes events for children,” says Yaroslav Boyko.
“At the Fishermen’s Club events, I represent my educational institution and the Youth Council. First, I am interested in events that talk about how to have a public organization set up and running. I went to such a training at TATOhub. I am interested in youth policy and ways to overcome difficulties in project implementation. I also organize social projects myself. I regret to have missed the psychological training on emotional burnout held recently,” says Viktoriia Rekhman, chair of the Student Council at the University of Economics and Entrepreneurship in Khmelnytskyi.
“Anxiety, panic attacks, feelings of loss of family or property… I had experience working with a couple who wanted to mend their relationship. There are many questions about children these days. Parents are concerned why children react to events unfolding in a certain way. They are clearly aware of the need for psychological help, at least for the child. In some situations, children seem to be ok psychologically. Yet, it may be their mother that experiences anxiety. Then I work directly with her. After all, children are like a litmus test: they reflect the situation in the family,” said Vasyl Kuptsov, psychologist at the NGO “Ukrainian Fishermen’s Club – UA Fishing Club.”
At consultations, the psychologist offers clients general exercises to stabilize and balance their psychological and emotional state. Another method used in work with clients is art therapy.
“Once a week I conduct art therapy for adults. In the process, I work with the emotional state of parents. Once I attended the event on the topic of parental attitudes: how to use them so as not to harm the child. Art therapy is a broad concept. It’‘s all about creativity. It can be both drawing and modeling or papier-mâché. One of our meetings was fairy-tale therapy. With parents, they learned to create fairy tales on their own. This is group work, during which a person does not necessarily have to share his or her experiences. If during the class someone has a desire to discuss something that worries them, they can stay for an individual consultation,” says the psychologist. The events organized by the public organization are attended by both local residents and refugees. There are no age restrictions. Yet, the main focus is families with children.
The main priority here is to work with internally displaced persons. Local residents are also asking for help. Requests may be different. These are personal issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, experiencing the loss of family members or property. Family counseling is another area of activities. There are also requests from internally displaced persons related to relocation.
Humanitarian aid was delivered by compartment cars.
Until February 24, 2022, the main areas of work of the NGO “Ukrainian Fishermen’s Club – UA Fishing Club” were youth policy, social issues in the city of Kramatorsk and the region, gender-sensitive issues, ecology and protection of aquatic biological resources.
From the first day of the full-scale invasion, the public organization developed an algorithm for the evacuation of people from all communities. In cooperation with heads of departments, public figures, and volunteers, it was possible to evacuate more than 380,000 people even before the explosion at Kramatorsk Railway Station (April 8, 2022. – Gazeta.ua). From 2.5 to 18 thousand citizens were transported by train to safer places each day. They also organized the evacuation of local residents by buses. NGO “Fishermen’s Club of Ukraine – UA Fishing Club” became the first organization that began to deliver humanitarian aid to the Donetsk region by compartment cars from Khmelnitsky, Uzhgorod, and Lviv.
At the end of March, the team managed to establish cooperation with the American donor World Central Kitchen. In the first months of the full-scale war – until October 2022 – the organization provided more than 15 thousand tons of humanitarian aid. More than 600,000 people in the Donetsk region received it.
“It is impossible to integrate into a community or a city without communicating with local residents. Therefore, in addition to the usual activities, the “Fishermen’s Club” helps displaced people to adapt to their new communities, find friends, reduce stress and improve their psychological state,” said Yaroslav Boyko, leader of the public organization.
The publication was prepared within the framework of the special project Post-War Reconstruction with the support of the Stiykist’ Programme which is implemented by East Europe Foundation as part of a consortium of nongovernmental organizations led by ERIM (France) in partnership with Human Rights House Foundation, Human Rights House Tbilisi, the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, and with funds from the European Union.
The opinions and statements expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the partner organizations of the consortium and the European Union.
Translated from the original article on Gazeta.ua