by Tatiana Orel
They call themselves the "Raging Amazons." Sometimes in between trips to the ATO zone where they take civilians out from under the shelling, here in Kiev they only have time to take a shower, have a meal and again in a hurry, load trucks of humanitarian aid and to dart back.
Their normal life ended with the beginning of the Maidan, where, not knowing each other, they, like many girls from Kiev, were bringing sandwiches and thermoses with coffee-tea-milk.
Diana Makarova, being the chief editor of ua lifejournal, who took the decision to resign from her job as soon as the Russian edition announced a ban on the materials of the Maidan, organized sewing vests.
Natalia Voronkova, who working for a pharmaceutical company before, unexpectedly became the coordinator of the Kiev Emergency Hospital, when on the February 18, 2014 the first heroes of the Maidan were brought there, injured in street battles.
There, in the emergency hospital, they met each other. At the first meeting they fought a bit, but soon became friends, combining their volunteer efforts. To support fighters Diana Makarova established a foundation on her own name, Natalia Voronkova - Volunteer sotnia "Dobraia Volia".
Being a "field" volunteers who collect aid for the ATO region and save civilians, they manage also to twitch ministerial and local officials, forcing them to work in the rhythm of the war.
Natalia Voronkova has husband and two children, Diana Makarova - a husband, three grown children and three grandchildren. They don’t always tell their relatives where they are going. They often share their impressions after the trips.
They say their families are also part of the volunteer team. On New Year's Eve they both took their daughters on a trip to congratulate children from patronized foster home, exported from the zone of ATO to a safe place.
But the adult residents of the occupied territories of Donbass simply can not believe that the whole of Ukraine is trying to help them. They're alienated from fear and Russian propaganda. But the souls, according to volunteers, can be treated after. The main thing - to save lives.
Each of the trips to the ATO area for Diana Makarova and Natalia Voronkova - special. And in its own way dangerous. Already after the interviews were recorded, it was reported that the bus, in which Debaltseve inhabbitants were evacuated, was shot by terrorists. Deliberately and precisely. Only thanks to skillful actions of volunteers, whom Diana and Natalia are proud to call "our team" there weremuch less wounded than it could be. But, thanks God, everybody is alive.
Thanks to the volunteers’ efforts over the last week from the attacks they managed to take almost 500 people.
Minsk talks on February 11-12, gave hope to many: that finally will get out of the basement, go home, and will be in warm and in silence. But there is fierce fighting around Debaltseve right now. It is too important strategic object - the largest railway junction of Ukraine. Today, the evacuation of the city, alas, is no longer possible ...
- Why many people from Debaltseve, which has long been under severe shelling, do not want to leave the city? What are they hoping for?
Diana Makarova, the head of F.O.N.D.a of Diana Makarova:
- You know, the hardest thing for volunteers - is to persuade people to collect their things and go. Today, for example, we were able to convince only 14 people out of 100. This is just one basement, which we found. Think about it: a hundred people live there, including children. Adults themselves flatly refuse to leave, and they don’t let their children go. The conditions are horrible - no heat, no light, no water, no medicine.
The situation is similar in the village of Vodino, there are 180 people - 25 children. How many times have we asked them to leave, but received a response: "No, if we sit silently in our homes, somehow everything will pass." And then the woman called from there and cried into the phone: "please, take me and my daughter away from here! I know you can, you will get through ..."
But there, in Vodino, we have not been able to reach out to the father of two girls of eight and nine years old. We did everything to persuade him: we cried, we begged. He disagreed. Perhaps this is the psychology of the peasant - people can not leave their garden, their cows.
- Do they understand who fires them? Indeed, a lot of people are convinced that the Ukrainian army allegedly deliberately wants to destroy them out of revenge for their support of "DNR" and "LNR". And mindlessly believe crazy rumors launched by the Russian propaganda aimed at deprived of truthful information, war-weary people. They say, for example, that the Ukrainian army is cleaning the territory of the indigenous population of Donbass to settle on these lands the people from Western Ukraine ...
- From the depths of the cellars it is difficult for people to understand the direction of the shots. Sometimes, we get someone upstairs, saying: "Look, where from the fire goes - apparently from the positions of the separatists." They see everything with their own eyes, but they still say that only Ukrainian army shoots.
Propaganda worked really well all these years. Ukraine did not do anything and, to be honest, does nothing to challenge it. We should talk somehow to these people. Today we had 15 minutes between shelling to persuade people to leave. We ran into the shelter, offered people to come quickly. We see: they are afraid. And not only because of that dangerous road. They do not believe that someone will help them on the Ukrainian territory and they will not be thrown away, that they will not be left on the street. They are convinced that nothing can be done without the money. And during those 15 minutes we were able to persuade the two families, one of which have a small child. And we even took their four cats, and we didn’t leave as long as those cats were found. I think this is one of our small victories.
Natalia Voronkova, the head of the volunteer sotnia "Dobraia Volia":
- We paid a lot of ebergy to help these people. But they don’t even suggest that the whole Ukraine helps them. When we try to explain it to them, they have so much surprise in their eyes... Once they find out the fact that we are not local ones, they are amazed: "How?! You came from Kiev to take us ?!"
- Do we have enough place in Ukraine for the new refugees?
- Volunteers who are engaged in resettlement, makes practically impossible, finding space for new arrivals. We take people to the centers of immigrants, which we have in contact for a long time - in Slaviansk, Kramatorsk.
- With the introduction of access control to take people out became probably more difficult?
- Yes, access control is not yet debugged. There are a lot of sabotage and reconnaissance groups in Ukraine. Therefore, those who go in and out of the ATO zone must provide a strong argument for what they do. This is the basis for admission.
But there are unusual situations that can not fit under the general rules. We met a woman crying at the bus station. Her gravely ill 11-year-old grandson, who, apart from her grandmother, has no one, lies in one of Donetsk hospitals. She has been staying with him because the boy needs constant care. She needs money to pay for laboratory tests. But in Donetsk banks do not work, so she had one day to go to Krasnoarmejsk to withdraw her pension through the ATM. Then she was not been able to get back to Donets without an access.
So we had to handle that out. We called the access center, asked them to provide her an access as soon as possible, reached the Deputy Minister of Health, Natalia Lisnevska who contacted the clinic and asked to attach a personal nurse to the boy until his grandmother would return. We are greateful to all these people who helped. But we certainly cannot be aware of all such situations.
- The battery on your phone probably lives no more than an hour ...
- Yes, the phones ring all the time. Our phone numbers spread rapidly. But we believe that there should be some common hotline where people could phone for help. Hopefully, we would still be able to organize it. Everything works until a dating service. MTS, for example, is ready to give us a simple, well-remembered number and take over the payment of traffic. Hopefully, we will not give up the other mobile operators. Because the most important thing in our business - is coordination between volunteers.
- Is it true that you receive money from Russians also?
Diana Makarova: Yes, very often. Transfering money, people write: "Glory to Ukraine! Forgive us!" We are well aware that we are not fighting with the whole of Russia. I will say more: in my foundation, it happens, people come from Russia for a week just to work. When Natalia requests Russians send rare medicines.
- You can see with your own eyes what terrifies people in social networks. But many, reading the morning news, reserve evening dinner in the restaurant. They say the men of ATO, returning from the rotation, can not understand why for some people this war is real, but for others - virtual. What do you think about this?
- It is our great pain. When during the dinner people "eat" a sum equal to the value of the thermal imager, for example, I can not accept this. For a long time I was taking it very seriously. And then I thought: what if these people send a half of their salary to the volunteer account? And somehow I went through this ...
But I really want people to be included in the assistance more actively, because we have a people's war. Not war of oligarchs, even though we are trying to impose this idea with promotional gimmicks. Without the support of the people this war will not end.
PS: In addition to courage Diana Makarova and Natalia Voronkova need also serviceable buses with full tanks. For those who are still there - for objective reasons, or because of their own stubbornness - we need medicines and food. Ukrainian soldiers need all that will help to accelerate the victory from thermal cameras to raspberry jam...
F.O.N.D. Diana Makarova:
Privat card (card in the name of Anna Kosinova):
5168742331600209 (for hryvnia)
5168742017380183 (for dollars)
Phone: +38 066-291-31-93
Volunteer sotnia "Dobraia Volia" Natalia Voronkova:
Privat (card in the name of Natalia Voronkova):
5168 7420 1680 3284
Phone: +38 050-633-31-95