The country is determined by the people. Thousands of Ukrainians, regardless of social status, undertook to provide the army with bulletproof vests, medical supplies and food during Russia’s attack on Ukraine. They continue to help the Ukrainian army still. Earlier on the Maidan, Ukrainians united against the Yanukovych regime. And today, during the quarantine, our society has also become more active in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, volunteer organizations exist in 80 countries around the world. About 110 million people participate in voluntary programs annually, where they help in education, health care, ecology, social protection and many other areas. Promote Ukraine asked the experts why are the first volunteers, activists from non-governmental organizations in Ukraine during the crisis? And are they more efficient than the state?
Anna Malyar, Head of the Center for Legal and Criminological Research
Volunteers are more effective than the state because they have no bureaucratic obstacles. I faced the following situation: our famous singers lost a lot of money and were ready to bring to Ukraine bulletproof vests for the Ukrainian military in the Donbas in 2015. They found the best bulletproof vests in Germany via their friends. However, they could not import them to Ukraine, because the bureaucratic procedures for importing such a cargo delayed the process for a few months, though the case was urgent – these bulletproof vests were needed at the front. Therefore, officials began to set conditions for speeding up and facilitating the process of volunteer cargo importing. Some of the officials even said at that time said that it was ruined their business because they had bought the bulletproof vests with kick-backs.
This is the bureaucratic system that volunteers face. But where the issues can be resolved, they do everything very quickly and efficiently. And volunteers have practically replaced the functions of the state. By the way, futuristic scientists, who predict the future, say that we will still observe the disappearance of the state as a legal institution because volunteer movements and horizontal social networks can replace any state’s function, at least, except law enforcement. Hence, the war with Russia and the Revolution of Dignity have clearly shown this.
Lesya Litvinova, co-founder of Svoi Charitable Foundation
In Ukraine, volunteers are called the whole stratum of socially active people, and this is incorrect. For example, a friend of mine has a business, but at the same time produces the things for the spinal cord. There is a familiar medicine doctor who works in the hospital, and in his spare time helps to disassemble parcels with medicines to the charity. This is pure volunteering. Planting flowers near the hospital, taking doctors to work while the transportation is limited or taking a walk with the boarding school’s children is all volunteering.
A huge number of people in Ukraine are involved in such things around the clock. Some of them have grants for such activities or sponsors, however. And this, in my opinion, is no longer volunteering.
Why are non-governmental volunteer organizations more effective than the state? We have more space for “maneuvering”. To sort a problem out, we do not need to hold meetings, change laws or rewrite bylaws, hold tenders, and so on. The task is set up, ways of its decision are quickly found out and are executed. As a rule, a small problem is solved until the evening. Of course, global problems require more time although.
We can deal with problems, but we do not need to be forced to fulfil the tasks of the state. Volunteers should be there only to enable the state to «disperse».
Yuriy Trachuk, President of the Yuriy Trachuk and Partners Foundation
Volunteering is first and foremost the voice of one’s heart. I would describe the foundation of this institution as an inexhaustible desire to serve. People who are physically and morally ready to change the country or at least their community. And as Marcus Aurelius wrote: “What is good for the community, is good for the citizen”.
If we add to this successful social ties, personal reputation, financial opportunity and crisis – this is the effect of the jump of a compressed spring. After all, such people who are socially responsible to the community, which is currently unhealthy, simply do not have the moral right (first of all, concerning themselves) to be ordinary observers. Because then it gets worse for them too.
That is why such volunteers are the basis of society. Although sometimes they do not understand it or do not recognize this, or they are simply not let to govern in these communities, most often by their high moral values. Because volunteers do not settle down or bow and scrape before the system. The system resists but gradually weakens and accepts the changes.
Yuliya Konotoptseva, co-founder of the Kharkiv Station volunteer project
Volunteer “Kharkiv Station” (KS) is already 6 years. For the first time in my life, there came a period when I realized every day during this period that I was doing something important. And even if I just select a photo to publish on a Facebook page, I know what the final result will take place – as a minimum a package of products for the family that needs them and as a maximum – a large project that will provide a fair solution of the important KS’s tasks, the KS’s activity, the working paces for people and more. I am proud of what I do. And this in itself is a mega-motivator.
I call them “my people” not in the sense of ownership, but of understanding and support. Each of them is unique, has skills or abilities that no one else has. The main word that characterizes each team member is “ability”. There is a problem, we have come up with solutions, we take and we do.
Thanks a lot for trusting us. Without them, of course, nothing would have happened. We are the guide between those who have the resources to help and those who need it.
When a person writes that he wants to help, that he wants to be involved, then takes the task and completes it – what could be more beautiful in general? That is, when a man passed by, then saw there was a need for aid, he stopped and joined. Or when you write a post that there is a problem, you need this and that, and the volunteers took and did everything that was needed. That is cool. I am grateful to everyone who joins. Constantly or once – it does not matter, the main thing is that you are with us.
Marta Pivovarenko, Development Foundation NGO
According to all the psychological research, during a crisis, the first are people with a high level of resilience – an indicator of psychological flexibility and resilience to stress. A person is not born with this indicator but acquires it in the process of successfully overcoming high-risk situations.
The volunteers’ advantage is the direct action effect, activists do not need to agree on the things and pass various procedures for many papers signing. Experience, as it has been done before, gives speed, and the lack of bureaucracy gives an efficiency of implementation. Instead, government agencies (as it was shown by the Maidan, war and quarantine) need more meetings, discussions, and then be able to ensure the higher pace of programs’ implementation.