Friday, 19 August 2022

‘My people in Kyiv will die if they don’t receive help’

‘My people in Kyiv will die if they don’t receive help’

A UKRAINIAN woman living in Nettlebed is co-ordinating efforts to help her family and friends in her homeland.

Anastasiia Lypynska, 37, who is from Kyiv, is organising money, resources and networks of drivers.

Her mother and sister escaped on the third day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and went to Poland, where they have applied for UK visas.

Her father, grandmother, aunt, cousins and friends remain in the city and she calls them every dyay to check they are still alive.

Ms Lypynska started her aid work with the aim of getting body armour to her best friend who has joined Ukraine’s territorial defence force and is on the “second front” behind the fighting. He currently has no protective equipment.

She is sending money to friends who need support in the city and has also been working with Henley town councillor David Eggleton to collect donations and send them to Ukraine where her cousin distributes them.

Ms Lypynska, a former classical dancer, met her husband Michael Lilburn, from Devon, while he was working in Kyiv eight years ago. They move to Nettlebed in April last year.

Ms Lypynska, who has two children Issac, six, and Isabel, five, said: “I miss and love my home country. Until recently we would fly over for the weekend for fun and to feel the vibe of my place. I kept my maiden name because I love my country. I have lived all around the world and everyone I know who has come to Kyiv with me says they’re in love with my country and our food and culture.

“I will always help when it’s needed. Kyiv is being cut off from humanitarian help as the Russians want us to capitulate.

“My people will all die if they don’t get help. All my family and friends are there.

“On the third day my Mum and sister escaped to Warsaw and my husband went over to greet them. They’re now applying for UK visas because they have become eligible as my relatives.

“But I’m not even thinking about them anymore because they are safe. I’m thinking about my grandma, father, cousins, auntie and friends.

“I’m calling everyone every the morning to check if they are alive and if they have food. Then I move on to do all I can to get them help.

“So far all my family are still alive but the fighting is getting closer and closer to them. I need to provide them with protective equipment to help them to survive. I have my best friend in the territorial defence force, just behind the fighting, and he is bare. All he has is a yellow band on his arm.

“He’s hearing that body armour and sleeping bags are coming but they don’t come to him. My mission is to try to get body armour to him.

“My cousin works for a volunteering agency out there and he is helping me by collecting goods and getting them through green corridors into Ukraine.

“But we are facing more and more red tape and paperwork, which makes it more difficult to get stuff out there. If you don’t do the paperwork correctly all this stuff can end up in landfill. Imagine that when people are so in need.

“I can organise this because I have links out there and connections. I want people not to be afraid to donate to me. I know people there and I can organise this.

“My sister in Poland sourced some night vision goggles which I could get to my best friend but to do that I need £2,000. But I have only my own personal money which will run out.

“Twenty-four hours a day I’m talking to people. I’m full time every second. I look to everyone else like a mentally ill person.

“The other day my husband talked to me about laundry and I said, ‘If it’s not Ukrainian laundry, I don’t care’. It’s like an explosion in my house because I can’t be washing school uniforms and keeping up with that.” Ms Lypynska said people needed to donate things that were needed. She said: “The humanitarian help is wonderful but what we need is military equipment and protection. Give us the protection of a bullet-proof vest instead of nappies. Give us weapons and food.

“Help us to survive — we will do the job. You don’t have to fight, just give us metal. Look at how we’re fighting now without metal, we will be invincible if we are protected.

“I will not stop doing this. I have a purpose for life now because I know I will be supporting my people for the rest of my life.

“All I dream of is for [Putin] to stop shelling us with bombs and I hope he will see that we can resist.”

Ms Lypynska said her children didn’t fully understand what had happened. She said: “On the third day, when my mother was escaping, I think they heard some of my conversations with Michael and started to ask questions. On the fourth day at school they had to have some kind of conversation about it because all the kids were asking questions.

“My kids are being looked after by kind mums who are bringing them home and I’m trying to keep them living normally. The chef from school sent me home some school lunches to ensure we are eating.

“I say to the kids that I’m trying to help and need to keep doing what I’m doing and I tell them to look at the wonderful community we have.”

To make a donation to Anastasiia Lypynska, her account number is 62434411 sort code 04-00-75.

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