Volunteering to stay Strong. Written by Olha Datsko
On February 24, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On the same day, Scalarr CEO Inna Ushakova decided not to stand on the sidelines and actively volunteer to help those in vulnerable situations, including her employees and fellow Kharkiv citizens. We tell the stories of our colleagues who joined the initiative and have been combining work and assistance to Ukraine for four months now.
It is my first full-blown volunteer experience. I started volunteering almost immediately when Inna Ushakova called, “Who’s with me?“. The first month was very exhausting; with 18-hour long days and no weekends (split between working for the company and volunteering), every minute counted.
Within that context, in the early days, my main task was to identify people who needed help. I was managing and creating databases that included contact information, addresses, as well as other details like identifying if they were in a bomb shelter, a hospital, or something else. I also helped coordinate food and medicine suppliers and worked closely with the 4th Emergency Hospital departments in Kharkiv. I was helping elderly people, people in bomb shelters (different age groups), doctors, children in children’s hospitals, and patients in psychiatric institutions.
Sometimes we managed to deliver aid quickly, and sometimes we could not for several weeks. It all depended on the numerous circumstances - availability of humanitarian aid and the ability to get to the right place - the place could be under shelling or we could simply face a shortage of fuel, etc.
The first month was definitely chaos, and then we divided the responsibilities among Scalarr team members: I collected data, filled in the table, and formed a list of deliveries for my colleague, Daiana. The whole process was managed by our CEO Inna Ushakova.
Now, I am somewhat back to a regular work schedule from 7 am to 4 pm, which is when I switch to “kikimor” weaving, a type of camouflage clothing used by our military. I do it in the yard while my son plays with local children. I help my neighbors and also help transfer money to those in need.
Helping people and contributing to my community and country are what keep me motivated to not stop. About two months after the war started, I had a strong desire to go to the frontlines and join the fight, but I have a son and quickly realized that my responsibility is to keep him safe. Additionally, we must each do what we do best and if I can add my grain of salt to the country by continuing to work and helping people, then that’s what I will do. Someone has to rebuild our city and country in the future, and I look forward to joining those enthusiastic about restoring peace to our country.
I often feel the pressure of not having enough time to do everything I want to do to help everyone who needs it. However, thanks to the many years of hard work on myself (caring for my physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing), I’ve learned to quickly adapt to situations, accept things as they are in the moment, and not panic. It’s better to focus on something small and effective, always keeping the big picture (goal) in mind.
I believe the most important thing now is to resist and accept the situation we’re all living in. The more our psyche resists, the more likely we are to feel exhausted, helpless and depressed, and as such, we will not be in the right mindset to help others or ourselves. If you need to move temporarily to another place and have the opportunity to do so, of course, take that chance. For me, I’ve found it essential to resume my daily rituals: I do yoga in the mornings and evenings, I exercise three times a week, I care for my body and face, I cook, I play with my child, read to him during bedtime, and more. It’s also important to remember that you need to take care of yourself first to be healthy and capable of helping others.