Interview with Rodion Bronnikov

Meet Rodion Bronnikov, Regional Coordinator at Nova Ukraine, Kharkiv

Tell us a little about your background. What were you doing before the war? 

I’ve always been involved with creative pursuits. I love theater, poetry, literature, music. And film. The family business was organizing youth film festivals and competitions. I led a film club and was a film critic at Planeta Kino, a modern film theater. I also love to travel, I ran my own travel agency for years before working in film.

How does the war affect your daily life? 

Obviously, war has turned my life upside down. In the beginning, I couldn’t think about anything other than “Who am I now, what do I do in this new reality?” I posted my resume on volunteer chats highlighting my abilities and desire to help the victims. “An invisible hand” reached out to me, requesting help with medical supplies, and asking me to start the next day.  

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine? 

By the end of April 2022, I had built a substantial medical warehouse and organized the logistics. I called it “Just People.” I appealed to Nova Ukraine for assistance with this endeavor. Vlad Dergunov and Oleksandra Rybakovska suggested a meeting to discuss the needs. Once we spoke, it became clear they had a fully developed medical hub project as well, closely aligned with ours in terms of compassionate values. It felt like I had found a home. For me, this spiritual alignment was significant and I supported their initiative (The Fund) without hesitation. So off we went…

What’s your typical day at the office like? Please describe your daily activities and tasks. 

I try to split my day into two even parts. The first part is devoted to the internal business of the Fund (the MedHub project, budgeting, ordering from manufacturers, requests, correspondence, assistance with financial operations issues, individual cases, and CRM). The second part is warehouse management and “field” issues (group orders, supply of goods, medicine assembly, accounting, and bookkeeping). However, the “rules of the game” are rewritten almost every week based on the medical situation in each city, and the distribution of medical care and drugs shifts according to an area’s proximity to the front line or state border. The team is constantly reassessing and reconfiguring priorities.

Can you share with us a particular story that struck you? 

There are two. The first involved a delivery intended for Bakhmut. We had received an order for medicine that we were going to deliver to the volunteer hub in Bakhmut. Tragically, a Russian missile had landed, killing the female volunteer who was supposed to receive it. We faced a similar situation with a territorial community in Dvorichna (Kupyansky district, Kharkiv region), where Russian artillery had destroyed the administration building, the warehouse, and almost the entire village. We have stored those two intended deliveries in our corridors. The recipient names are marked on them. We cannot bring ourselves to unpack those boxes. They are reminders of the costs of war.

 What do you think Ukrainians need the most right now? (Besides victory.) 

A sense of security, protection, and support from the Western alliance. Nothing is more critical in terms of our security than modern NATO weapons for the Ukrainian Army. We are fighting for all democracies in Europe and the West. That said, the volunteer movement, which I only discovered after February 24, 2022, has become an impressive branch of auxiliary power. For me, becoming part of a large international charitable team has put levers of influence in my own two hands. It is quite extraordinary to feel that.  

What is the most challenging part of your work at Nova Ukraine? 

Being effective every day is difficult, but required. We are constantly trying to optimize numerous logistic processes in a highly “manual” system. The rules for processing individual cases cannot be standardized. It varies by situation. And correspondence with colleagues is time-consuming. It takes up almost half of my day. I’m trying to become more efficient with that so I can devote more hours to action items such as issuing batches of medicine to beneficiaries.

What is the most rewarding aspect? 

The people. The culture of selflessness in the NU team. I see it in their eyes, I feel it in their actions every meeting of every work day, on every issue. This reinforces my motivation and assures me that this is the best possible place for me to be right now.

What else would you like our donors and readers to know about you and what you do at NU? 

I understand that the world is a bit “tired” of Ukraine. I felt something similar when I was living in a peaceful city in 2014. The ATO was raging 180 km away from us, and Russia’s invasion was engulfing Eastern Ukraine. It lasted for eight years, with no visible end. I regret not acting then, not anticipating the increasing threat. The future now depends on every person, every community, and every civilized country understanding that Ukraine needs a victory. We will defend ourselves as long as we have to, but victory depends on those who provide continued assistance. Nova Ukraine, with its managerial and operational excellence and its vector of movement, provides me, as one individual, with essential tools for my own action and my own conscience. I never want to feel regret that I did not act.  

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