“They helped us so much” – Visiting Ukrainian youth centre that received Czech aid

Humanitarian aid

The Zaporizhzhia Regional Youth Centre in Ukraine is one of the largest youth centres in Europe and has served as a volunteer headquarters since the outbreak of the war. The centre also received support from the Czech NGO People in Need and was visited recently by our reporter Daniel Ordonez.

“In the beginning they helped us so much,” Kostyantyn Chernyshov from the Regional Youth Centre in Zaporizhzhia, south-east Ukraine, says about the Czech NGO People in Need as he takes Radio Prague International on a tour through the facility.

“They provided food, hygiene, equipment and money for the support of our organisation.”

The Centre and People in Need are no longer working together, he says, but adds that communication with Czech authorities is still ongoing and that the partnership could be restored soon.

Zaporizhzhia | Photo: Daniel Ordóñez,  Radio Prague International

One of the largest youth centres not just in Ukraine, but in Europe as a whole, the 3,000 square meter facility provides a huge space for people who have been forced out of their homes due to the war. Konstantin says that it was set up immediately upon the outbreak of Russia’s invasion with the help of various volunteers from the region.

“In the beginning we provided direct means of support for different kinds of people, for example by delivering food. Then we scaled up and expanded on our cooperation with the social services of the city.

“We are trying to deliver food, hygiene products and medicine to the temporarily occupied territories. We also work with volunteers who are currently internally displaced persons helping in their reintegration. One of our floors is being reconstructed so that it can serve as a civic centre so that they can integrate. We are the biggest youth centre in Ukraine.”

Zaporizhzhia | Photo: Daniel Ordóñez,  Radio Prague International

He says that those internally displaced persons who have found refuge in the building profit most from the ordinary things in life.

“They are sitting. They are speaking. Communication is really important for people who have just arrived from temporarily occupied territories.”

Zaporizhzhia | Photo: Daniel Ordóñez,  Radio Prague International

These interactions take place amid work that is beneficial for the overall war effort, whether it be by helping refugees or soldiers on the front lines, he adds, proudly showing the netting that is being made to help mask military equipment used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“We are the biggest provider of masking nets in Zaporizhzhia. It’s something that we are very proud of because the Armed Forces of Ukraine use it to protect their hi-tech equipment. They are white and pixelated. We use camouflage from the Ukrainian form.”

Dehydrated food is another product made in this facility and is subsequently provided to refugees.

Located within the city of Zaporizhzhia itself, the youth facility is the only one of its kind in the region that has not yet been occupied by Russian forces.

Authors: Daniel Ordóñez , Thomas McEnchroe
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