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Mariia, a volunteer from Sloviansk

Illustration: #SofiaRunova


Sloviansk is a city in Donetsk Oblast that has been under constant heavy Russian shelling since the start of the full-scale war. Many people left for safer regions, so now the city that used to be home to 100,000 people is empty. However, volunteer Mariia remains there, striving to support her community and the Ukrainian army as long as possible.

Mariia is 21 years old, the war for her started when the girl was 13. Then, Russian fighters started military operations in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. Sloviansk was under occupation for several months, but in the summer of 2014 the Ukrainian army liberated the city. Since then, Mariia has strengthened her pro-Ukrainian position, and after the start of the full-scale war, she decided to fight for her native Sloviansk as a volunteer.

 The girl contacted charity organizations and other volunteers, who managed to provide her with food, medicine and necessary items for the military. At first, she delivered humanitarian aid on foot, but later she was given an old Lada, which sped things up. Before the full-scale war, the volunteer didn’t drive much, so the first trips were quite stressful, especially when shelling began nearby. Mariia also feeds homeless animals, the number of which has increased significantly in the city, and helps people with evacuation. There were cases when a shell hit a house 20 minutes after the volunteer took the residents out.

The most difficult thing for Mariia is to come to terms with the fact that she can’t physically help everyone. In a day, she can receive up to 70 requests for help, but she has to prioritize them. Because of this, there are moments of despair, but the girl was helped by the words of her close friend: "You are a person with such strength and power. If you fall, the whole nation will fall." Then Mariia decided to persevere.

The volunteer doesn’t consider the option of leaving Sloviansk. She believes that she is much more useful in the city on the front line, and helping people there is very urgent.


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