When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, people, young and old, looked for ways to do their part to protect their country and help the soldiers defending them on the front lines. The answer was clear: continue offering their unique skills to fellow Ukrainians and the world.
People in Ukraine “work for a common victory,” a 20-year-old student in Kyiv told the Associated Press.
The resilience of the people of Ukraine has been a powerful and inspiring example to the world. Here are some of their stories.
Before the war, Olena Grekova designed backless dresses and other high-end fashion. Today she (above center) and other volunteers in Zaporizhzhia make body armor vests for Ukrainian soldiers.
Grekova was in Thailand looking for ideas for her spring collection when Russia’s forces invaded in 2022. She returned to Ukraine to do her part. “I feel I am needed here,” Grekova told the AP.
Elsewhere in Zaporizhzhia, volunteers make other products headed for Ukrainian soldiers, from rifle slings to camouflage netting to portable heating stoves (shown above).
“I wasn’t actually connected with the military at all,” said Hennadii Vovchenko, who ran a furniture-making business before the war and organized volunteers to help make products for the front line. “It took two days and three sleepless nights to understand what needs to be done.”
Strings of hope
Violinist Vera Lytovchenko (above) sheltered in a Kharkiv basement with relatives when the invasion began. She often recorded and posted music videos online.
Lytovchenko decided to raise funds for the war effort through music. “I can’t stop this war,” she told Katie Couric Media. “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a soldier. I’m a musician. What can I do? I realized this is what I can do, play violin.” Her posts have drawn thousands of people.
With Russia’s forces having destroyed more than 320 bridges, locals realized they had to figure out another way to get goods for their families and neighbors.
Yuri Shapovalov (below, center) found one. On nearly a daily basis, he helped his neighbors cross the Siverskyi Donets River in Staryi Saltiv on a boat filled with goods after the bridge was severely damaged during fighting.
A light in the darkness
A group of young Ukrainian dancers, Light Balance Kids, demonstrates that entertainment can bring people together worldwide. The group appeared on television’s America’s Got Talent: All-Stars on January 2.
They danced in the dark, wearing lighted costumes that resembled video game characters. Using Ukraine’s colors, the performance closed before a castle, a trident and the national flag.
Light Balance Kids brought the light to #AGTAllStars and @howiemandel gave them his #GoldenBuzzer! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/n5E9aPsqvM
— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) January 3, 2023
“We wanted to tell America and the whole world about what is happening in Ukraine,” said 17-year-old dancer Maria Honyukova, whose uncle died in combat. “And we also wanted to convey to the audience that light always wins.”