The Killing Fields russia Left Behind

Even in Ukraine’s  de-occupied territories, russian soldiers have transformed hundreds of kilometers into killing fields rife with camouflaged landmines. 

Although those territories were re-taken by Ukrainian soldiers, the russian army mined their exit routes in another act of aggression and brutality.

According to the State Service of Ukraine for Emergency Situations, at least 30% of Ukraine’s territory is currently mined. This translates to more than 174 thousand square kilometers, approximately half the size of Germany.

De-mining these territories is treacherous work, but it must be done.

Left to stand, Ukrainian children can no longer attend kindergartens and school for fear of stepping on surrounding landmines. Instead, they study remotely, losing direct contact with educators and peers, both of which have a deleterious effect on their education as well as their social development. 

Hospitals are also surrounded by russian mines, rendering them useless and inaccessible to patients and doctors who can no longer do their lifesaving work. 

Our farmers are also endangered, no longer able to work their fields for fear of detonating a mine. This has dire consequences for the economy of Ukraine as well as for the global food supply.  

Many of our busiest roads were also mined, causing great fear and loss of life to civilians who must travel them in order to work or transport  goods and supplies.   

This is everyday life in regions that Ukrainian soldiers bravely fought to de-occupy. It is very far from “normal”. 

Support Our Efforts

From the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Nova Ukraine and its partners have supported first responders who can help accelerate Ukraine’s return to ordinary life. Your donation to Nova Ukraine will help fund three of our main priorities:

  1. The  purchase of de-mining equipment to safely remove and transport explosive objects 
  2. Safety training for first responders 
  3. Material support for sappers (combat engineers) such as metal detectors, protective clothing

Please help us help Ukraine.  No amount is too small to make a very great difference.

Floodwaters Devastate Dozens of Towns in Ukraine

On June 6, parts of the Kherson region in Southern Ukraine were devastated by floodwaters from the Kakhovka dam, and the region is now facing a “monumental humanitarian, economic, and ecological catastrophe.”

Families, including children and the elderly, sought refuge on rooftops, watching their lives being swept away. The scale of this crisis is immense and one of the most significant challenges Ukraine has faced during the 15-month invasion by Russia.

To ensure an effective response, Nova Ukraine joined forces with the Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco (for media and information support) and the Emergency Services of Ukraine for local coordination in Kherson.

A Nova Ukraine team and several of our partner teams reached Kherson the next day, June 7, 2023. Thanks to your generous donations:

Nova Ukraine funded critical aid and evacuations of Kherson residents, people and their animals (donate to help animals).

We also funded, purchased, and delivered essential supplies and equipment, such as water pumps and pipes, to address the devastating damages caused by extreme flooding.

Help us to continue supporting first responders near Kherson!

The region still lacks basic resources like clean water, food, and medicine! The situation is changing as flooding starts to recede, exposing devastation previously hidden from our eyes. Fungal growth and the risk of infectious diseases are rising, whereas urban cleanup and building repairs will be starting soon, despite artillery shelling by the occupiers from across the Dnieper.

Please support our efforts by donating and sharing this fundraiser!

Please donate to this cause and share information about Nova Ukraine. Your support will help Ukraine overcome this crisis.

Thank you for your kindness. Glory to Ukraine.

Donate to Support Our Efforts

Please consider supporting Nova Ukraine’s various projects by donating today to bring critical support to those in need. As the devastation has no end in sight, please consider making your donation recurring.

Nova Ukraine Supplies 40 Operating Tables to Hospitals in Critical Regions

Given all the injuries incurred by this war, it is essential that Ukrainian hospitals have state-of-the-art medical equipment. Some of the operating tables Nova Ukraine has been able to supply are FAMED, Amsco, Steris, and Skytron.

These operating tables are multi-functional, offering a range of patient positions. They can also be fitted with attachments that are specifically designed for orthopedic surgery. This versatility creates the kind of efficiency that allows surgeons to perform multiple procedures in a single day.

Notably, these tables do not rely on electrical drives, which increases their reliability and guarantees uninterrupted use during blackouts.

During the last five months, Nova Ukraine has delivered more than 40 of these operating tables to hospitals in the most critical regions.

This operating table is easy to use, convenient, ergonomic, reliable, and multifunctional.

Dr. Stanislav Onyschuk, a surgeon from Lysets’, Ivano-Frankivsk Region, says, “The multi-functional tables we received have been beneficial in saving time, which is crucial in difficult conditions. We can now perform more operations in a day without constantly stopping to reposition patients. The tables also allow for reliable fixation, so we can now secure orthopedic patients with levers. Lastly, these tables are X-ray transparent, eliminating the need to move the patient for X-ray screenings, which is often very painful for patients with critical injuries. All in all, the range of patients we can successfully treat with these beds has significantly expanded.”

Unfortunately, the 40 beds delivered to date are not enough. Financial constraints and limited resources pose significant obstacles to obtaining the latest medical technology everywhere it is needed. 

Your contribution can significantly impact the wounded in Ukraine. Every dollar goes a long way toward supplying additional equipment to Ukrainian hospitals. Please stay connected with our Donation page to explore various ways you can donate in support of our efforts. We thank you. 

Donate to Support Our Efforts

Your continued support makes our continued support possible. Please donate today to provide Ukrainian hospitals with the care they need.

A Critical Dam in Southern Ukraine Was Destroyed by Russian Occupiers on June 6, 2023

The Kherson region is currently experiencing widespread devastation and severe flooding.

Numerous residents are evacuating from the region to flee sudden floods. Families have lost their homes, and communities are devastated.

Nova Ukraine is working with the state Emergency Services of Ukraine to purchase the necessary equipment to address the consequences of this ecological catastrophe resulting from the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Nova Ukraine evacuation partners have been working on the ground in the Kherson region this past year. They know the land very well and are in touch with local authorities. Their support on the ground is invaluable.

Please support our efforts by donating and sharing this fundraiser!

Your donation will provide vital resources, empowering the brave responders on the ground to navigate through the floodwaters, rescue those trapped, and deliver critical aid. Our main priorities at this time are providing drinking water, water pumps and cleanup.

As the flood situation develops quickly, we are staying in touch with the Emergency Service of Ukraine to understand the needs on the ground. We have aligned our efforts with the Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco, with their media and information support. 

Donate to Support Our Efforts

Please consider supporting Nova Ukraine’s various projects by donating today to bring critical support to those in need. As the devastation has no end in sight, please consider making your donation recurring.

FranKolo: Children’s Journey of Growth and Inspiration

At FranKolo, children thrive in a nurturing and inclusive environment where they explore their passions and develop vital life skills, despite the looming threat of war. Since its launch in April 2022, the project has touched the lives of over 1000 children who sought refuge in the free clubs during their time in Ivano-Frankivsk. Today, we want to share with you the incredible impact FranKolo has made over the past year and Nova Ukraine’s support in their mission.

A Promise of Change:

For many children, especially those studying online because of the war, FranKolo provided a unique opportunity for real-time interaction with peers and a chance to indulge in their favorite activities. The clubs served as a haven, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie among the participants. However, as the year progressed, the funding reached its limit, and the project would terminate by the end of January.

February 1st was momentous as the FranKolo project channel announced an extension of three months, thanks to the support of Nova Ukraine. The overwhelming flood of joy and gratitude the organizers received from the Frankivsk community reaffirmed the significance of this work. On that very day, the children returned to their beloved clubs, eager to resume their journey of growth and exploration.

Support and Community:

Over the course of three months, 283 children participated in 11 clubs, each forming a tight-knit community of young learners. Among them, 167 came from occupied, deoccupied, and near-frontline territories, such as Mariupol, Melitopol, Berdiansk, Vuhledar, Rubizhne, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Kharkiv, Irpin, Kramatorsk, Izium, and others. The project brought support and inspiration to those most affected by war. Additionally, FranKolo welcomed children from large families, single-parent households, and families impacted by war-related injuries, captivity, or loss – providing a safe space for all.

A World of Possibilities:

Within FranKolo’s community, children had the opportunity to engage in a diverse range of activities that sparked their curiosity and honed their skills. Guided by their dedicated instructors, children went on forest walks, exploring the nature of the Frankivsk region. Art meetings encouraged their creativity. Table tennis matches fueled friendly competition, while book meetings broadened their horizons. Children engaged in aerobics, taekwondo, sewing, knitting, programming, and electrical experiments. All these experiences empowered them to embrace their unique interests.

The children went beyond clubs, organizing a Social Fair in support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, where children sold the products they crafted during club sessions. They participated in a tennis competition. Additionally, on Earth Day, a forest walk led to a community-driven cleanup event in the beloved Vovchynetsky forest, showing their commitment to environmental stewardship.

Parental Feedback:

FranKolo values the input of the parents, and their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In a recent survey, over 80% of parents praised the friendly atmosphere and the high-quality instruction provided by the project’s dedicated team. More than 60% appreciated the unique nature of the clubs, recognizing the value of the experiences for the children. Astonishingly, 85% expressed a desire for the project to continue into the next academic year. It is heartwarming to know that FranKolo’s efforts have touched so many lives of both children and their families.

Looking Ahead:

The continued success of the FranKolo project relies on sustainable funding and a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of the children they serve. While the journey has been both inspiring and challenging, FranKolo has managed to secure funding for the final month of the school year. They took this opportunity to analyze activities and develop a project model for the next academic year. The friendly atmosphere during the sessions is a determining factor that influences children’s desire to learn or engage in various activities.

Donate to Support Our Efforts

Nova Ukraine is proud to support FranKolo’s mission of supporting Ukrainian children to gain a deeper understanding of their interests, develop self-confidence, and unlock their full potential. Please donate today to support our efforts.

Interview with Andrii Rudenko

Meet Andrii Rudenko, Medical Lead in Ukraine

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

I was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine. In 1998, I graduated from Kyiv Medical Institute and worked as a doctor in a city hospital for some time. Later, I transitioned to the pharmaceutical industry and held various positions, eventually becoming the Director of Marketing & Sales for a foreign pharmaceutical company. In 2013, I completed an MBA from the International Institute of Management. On February 24, 2022, my life took a significant turn, and I started volunteering. In January 2023, I joined the Nova Ukraine medical team as a volunteer, and I have recently been selected as the head of the medical team in Ukraine. I am eager to utilize my knowledge and skills to provide faster, more efficient healthcare assistance to patients in Ukraine.

How does the war affect your daily life?

The war has significantly disrupted the normal rhythm of life for me and all Ukrainians. Since the invasion, I have stayed in Kyiv to support my elderly relatives. I have been involved in efforts to deliver essential supplies to those in need, such as food and animal feed. Additionally, I have participated in the unloading and sorting of humanitarian aid, specifically medications, and have compiled lists of necessary medications for Hostomel and Bucha.

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

I joined Nova Ukraine because I wanted to help fellow citizens in need. It was an opportunity for me to contribute and make a difference.

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

One of my main responsibilities is to coordinate which hospitals in which regions need medical equipment. So, I am in constant communication with hospitals across the different regions in Ukraine.

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

One particular story that deeply impacted me was when I called a hospital in the eastern part of the country, and they were overwhelmed with happiness upon receiving our assistance. Their gratitude and emotional response left a lasting impression on me.

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

Apart from victory, Ukrainians need unity, continued support for each other, and belief in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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

The realization that I can’t help everyone who needs it. The demand for assistance is so very great that it can be challenging to prioritize who we can help. It is the triage system, who is in the greatest need.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

Receiving positive feedback that our help, particularly the provision of medical equipment, is saving lives. This is deeply gratifying.

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

I want donors and readers to understand their help is incredibly valuable and necessary. No matter how small, every contribution makes a difference in the lives of those affected by the war.

Interview with Adriian Dorosh

Meet Adriian Dorosh, Warehouse Lead in Ukraine

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

I loved mountaineering, water sports, and cycling. I lived for traveling and hiking in the mountains. But I was always involved in the Ukrainian scouting organization Plast. I had the privilege of mentoring youth. Before the full-scale invasion, I dedicated several hours each day to this. Additionally, I worked in the souvenir business, producing textile products and promotional materials with a team. And I just finished my training as a software developer.

How does the war affect your daily life?

When I wake up in the morning now, I think about how I can be helpful in this very moment, what can I contribute to the cause? Certainly, I can contribute my leisure time and put my IT career on hold until victory. 

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

When you are living with the unpredictability of war, you are constantly thinking, “what will tomorrow bring?” I see how many people suffer from Russian aggression against Ukraine, and it becomes very difficult to sit idly by. In searching for ways to help, I found Nova Ukraine. They are a team of people just like you and me, with whom you can actually save people’s lives and also help animals. My involvement produces tangible results, which is essential to me.

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

Previously at NU, I worked on a project related to fuel. Maintaining supply is critical for evacuating citizens from dangerous areas and transporting provisions to frontline locations. Now, as a warehouse manager in Lviv, I work with a large team to receive, track and send out shipments for those needing assistance. As often as possible, I schedule regular visits to frontline zones and liberated territories to see for myself the needs and conditions, which I then communicate to local partners. 

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

It’s difficult to choose just one story because every minute spent in the combat zone or occupied territories is worth sharing with the world. But one story that was very sad was about a destroyed school in Liman, Donetsk region. Before the war, the government and some sponsors had just renovated the school, providing everything for an effective learning process: new lighting, the right furniture and superb equipment. 

But when our team arrived at the school after several months of occupation, only ruins remained. It was heartbreaking because the children so badly needed to focus on something other than war. Unfortunately, there are many such places in Ukraine. Every second spent in the conflict zone reminds us of how much work will need to be done to rebuild the country.

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

Undoubtedly, what Ukrainians need most is more weapons, especially F-16s. Each unit of weaponry we receive can accelerate our victory and save lives. Furthermore, we need resources to compensate for the awful consequences of war, such as infrastructure restoration, demining, reestablishment of transportation links, and medical support, among others. And, of course, moral support is always needed during difficult times.

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

Perhaps the biggest challenge is that the lives of most Ukrainians are highly unpredictable right now. Living in present day Ukraine means living with a constant, difficult-to-process, flow of information. It’s vital for all of us to stick together and continue our daily work because even the simplest tasks often become incredibly difficult to execute.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

The most rewarding aspect is seeing the gratitude of people we are directly impacting and hearing thousands of kind words for what we do. Knowing that our work at NU makes a tangible difference is truly, truly rewarding.

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

Just a big THANK YOU!!! For what you do, for your immense help, and for not abandoning us.

Interview with Svitlana Dreval

Meet Svitlana Dreval, Project Manager in Ukraine

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

I was born and raised in Kyiv. I graduated from the Economics Faculty of the University of Technology and Design and started searching in different directions to find my true path. Over the years, I have lived and worked in various parts of Ukraine. I created the first shopping complexes in Poltava, Chernihiv, and Crimea. I implemented projects for processing sludge and slag deposits in Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions. I managed commercial real estate in Odesa, where I now live, having established myself as an entrepreneur in the advertising business. 

I considered myself a “worldly person,” traveling often and spending winters in Asia. But when the war broke out, I knew I would not be able to stay on the sidelines. My family made a conscious decision to fight.

How does the war affect your daily life?

My husband is at war. I experience both joy and loss with him every day. I work with hospitals, and it brings me immense happiness to be involved in doing good deeds through Nova Ukraine. At the same time, it highlights the price we pay for the peace at our home.

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

At the beginning of the war, I used my own funds to assist hospitals in purchasing external fixation devices. But the hospitals’ needs grew, and the number of hospitals requiring assistance also increased. Meanwhile, my personal resources diminished. That’s when Nova Ukraine entered my life like a gust of hope and victory. From the very first day, even before becoming a foundation employee, I witnessed the round-the-clock dedication of the entire team. It was love at first sight. 

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

Each day begins by reviewing the previous evening’s communications with colleagues in different time zones. Needs are constantly changing and we have to coordinate and re-prioritize daily.

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

I want to share my first case. We bought portable VAC devices for several hospitals, including one in Zaporizhzhia. A boy was brought there for the amputation of his right hand. The local doctor wanted to save this child’s hand. But the boy would have to be transferred to Zakarpattia, where neurosurgeons were on staff to operate. Our VAC device was given to the boy, and he was sent by train. But shelling began throughout Ukraine, and the train was delayed by eight hours. Throughout that time, the device continued to work, allowing the patient to reach the hospital without complications. The doctor called me later and said that thanks to that device, the boy’s hand was saved. 

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

Faith, hope, attention, and continued support and assistance.

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

The 24-hour nature of the work. And accepting the harsh reality that not all requests can be fulfilled, no matter how hard we work. 

What is the most rewarding aspect?

Transformation and personal development. I constantly witness how the foundation team progresses, new projects emerge, and the wheat is separated from the chaff.

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

I will always regret the diminishment of my attention to the war from 2014 to 2022. I regret living with rose-colored glasses, thinking the war in another region wasn’t real. Now I understand that everything that happens everywhere is interconnected, and it is necessary to resist aggression wherever it occurs. 

I want to say that war is terrifying and painful. Please support the people who sacrifice their lives in both the literal and figurative sense. Even if the war in Ukraine seems distant to you, it isn’t. Becoming part of Nova Ukraine is a way to help change the world for the better.

Interview with Ira Berezhnytska

Meet Ira Berezhnytska, Project Manager in Ukraine

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

Before the full-scale invasion, I had my own restaurant business in Lviv. I studied animation and also loved sports and travel, especially going to the mountains. As a side interest, I belonged to the scouting organization Plast, dedicating a lot of time to instructional activities and organizing various events and camps. And of course, I loved just spending time with family and friends.

How does the war affect your daily life?

The war has completely changed my life, its rhythm, and my plans for the future. Before, I lived for myself, envisioning a career and a life full of travel. Now, all I can think about is how to find more and more opportunities to help my people.

All of last year was about delivering tens of thousands of tons of aid. The cartoons I was supposed to draw for a living became logistics maps for planning, establishing and organizing warehouse operations. Now, I am always thinking about how to deliver something to inaccessible and unreachable places.

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

My introduction to Nova Ukraine happened quite by accident. It turns out to have been one of the best accidents of my life.

At the end of February, I started volunteering at Nova Ukraine, eventually organizing a warehouse in Lviv and getting involved with logistics and aid distribution. Later, I led several projects related to tactical medicine, providing medical equipment and infrastructure.

Knowing that my knowledge and skills could be useful to so many people for such an important cause, I decided to make volunteering permanent. The work I am doing has given me the opportunity to grow as a person, and for that, I am deeply grateful to Nova Ukraine.

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

I would say that 30% of my day is warehouse-related work, 30% is trips taken to different regions of Ukraine, and the rest is devoted to the many meetings with collaborators and partners that enable us to make sure things happen as efficiently as possible.

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

In general, every trip to the East or the South is filled with dozens of stories that are impossible to forget or erase from memory. They involve thousands of shattered lives and the stories of children who will never have a childhood again.

The most vivid memory engraved in my mind is the cemetery in Izium, where a mass grave of murdered men, women, and children was discovered. There are nameless graves and tiny coffins with toys left behind. Seeing this was painful and tearful, I don’t have the words for it. 

But I know that witnessing such losses of life in person is something I will never be able to forget. One of the slain soldiers there had his hands tied by the Russians, but he still had a blue-and-yellow ribbon on one of his wrists. Now I have the same ribbon tattooed on my wrist as a permanent reminder of the price we are willing to pay for our freedom.

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


We also need demining equipment and specialists, rehabilitation centers, and a resolution to the educational problem. Furthermore, there is a need to create conditions for Ukrainians to return to work, which will involve the creation of new job opportunities, and strategies for income growth and personal development.

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

The most challenging aspect is finding time for rest and rejuvenation amidst the many difficult moments of the work itself. And, it is also a challenge to take on the risks.

I remember one time when we were having fuel supply issues. Some drivers (with families) refused to risk traveling near the frontlines to deliver aid. I understood of course, but I knew we had to somehow overcome this to get the aid where it was needed. I decided to do it myself. I loaded a whole compartment with medical equipment and set off to the East to deliver this critical assistance. We got it done.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect is seeing the very human results of my work and realizing that all the efforts, all the stress, were not in vain. We have made a real difference in the lives of our people. 

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

I would like to say that without their help, we would never have been able to achieve all that we have. All the accomplishments, big or small, are victories that are shared with them.

The war drags on, and people need as much help now as they did in the beginning. Now is not the time to grow tired. Now is the time to push on. So please, continue to give.

Interview with Zoya Aleksandrova

Meet Zoya Aleksandrova, Back Office Lead in Ukraine

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

For many years, I worked in the publishing industry, contributing (both literally and figuratively) to the creation of hundreds of books of various genres.

How does the war affect your daily life?

For most Ukrainians, including me, life is divided into “before” and “after” the start of the war on February 24, 2022. This period of time feels like a long, terrifying dream, an event outside of reality yet horrifyingly real. It is consumed with anger and hatred, despair and hope, and a stubborn belief, even on my darkest days, that Ukraine will prevail.

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

I didn’t have to decide; it happened on its own. There was simply a need to do something useful and I had a lot of free time. The universe took care of the rest.

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

Reports, reports, reports… At first glance, it may seem like my role is all about abstract numbers and tables. But in reality, I am 100% consumed in real stories, real people’s lives. Our team of coordinators is ordinary men and women helping other ordinary men and women just like ourselves, in desperate need of the humanitarian assistance we are providing.

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

One particular “unfinished” case has stayed with me. Volunteers ferrying generators across the Desna River in Chernihiv in the spring of 2022 came under fire on the return journey and lost their lives…

And there is another case that still echoes in my heart. The death of 21-year-old Yuliia Zdanovska, a volunteer in Kharkiv who graduated from the Mechanics and Mathematics Department of Kyiv National University. She had such an opportunity to glorify Ukraine on the mathematical front, but her life was cut short by an airstrike from the aggressors on March 3, 2022.

Every Ukrainian could share dozens of tragic stories like these because when you are living in war, tragedy is no longer exceptional.

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

Comprehensive support from countries that share our values and stand up for humanity.

As for Ukrainians, we must all do what we consider necessary, follow the call of our hearts, and forbid even a trace of doubt of the likelihood of victory.

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

Experiencing the pain of Ukrainians again and again through “war-related” inquiries and the accompanying photo reports. All day, every day, you witness obliteration and its aftermath.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

Feeling connected to the cause. Seeing ordinary people coming together in defense of our country and our citizens.

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

I hope – no, I know – that our victory is not far away, and therefore, little by little, we all need to make plans for what we will do AFTER.

Interview with Lyudmyla Vovk

Meet Lyudmyla Vovk, POC Lead in Ukraine

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

I am not a teacher but I was fortunate enough to join this super-interesting and challenging field for the last few years. I worked with children in alternative educational children’s projects, such as summer camps and two private schools. I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best innovators in children’s education. This was the first instance where I felt lucky to be surrounded by incredible people on my team, but not the last.

How does the war affect your daily life?

We had moved to Lviv two years before the war. Although I rarely heard explosions nearby, that changed in March. The emotional atmosphere intensified, and I regularly experienced floods of tears in the middle of the street. I didn’t have acquaintances with whom I could partner in quality volunteer work. So I took it upon myself to host several NGOs in my apartment and bake for the military on the frontlines. This helped keep my hands busy and bring some order to my mind.

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

In April 2022, Irene Smovzh, a friend of my husband’s, asked if I knew someone who could volunteer at Nova Ukraine. I didn’t have details about the specific position, but I strongly felt that I needed to join this team… The next day, I was added to Slack. Most of the communication happened on American time, the manuals were constantly changing, but I stayed with it and figured out the protocols (almost!). 

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

Like all coordinators, my primary responsibility is communicating with partners and tracking requests in the CRM. My “additional duties” include organizing the work of our team in coordination with the foundation team. I consider myself an introvert, so all of this communication sometimes exhausts me. 

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

I would like to share a story about one of my partners. Olena Osadcha founded the “I Know You Can” NGO in Dnipro City. This organization helps people with disabilities in their city. Nova Ukraine started supporting them in June 2022 and continues to support them now.

Olena herself is in a wheelchair, the result of a rare bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta. In her childhood, she experienced a bone fracture every month. Nevertheless, she continued to study at home. She looked for courses and training because she didn’t want to depend on anyone. When she faced difficulties, she often heard, “I know you can.” She worked with the city administrations to promote inclusivity and accessibility and helped other people with disabilities. Later, with the support of friends, she founded “I Know You Can.”

Olena is one of those partners who has everything in order. She handles aid procurement and reporting by herself and also assists us with additional questions regarding other projects. She is always active. People like Olena are not only a motivation for personal growth but also one of the reasons why I’m part of NU. When I face challenges in my role, I tell myself “I know I can.”

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

Ukrainians need to believe in themselves and value individual worth, we are all needed now. We must negotiate with each other so each citizen contributes to our victory.

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

Besides being an introvert who is now a lead coordinator, the most challenging part of my work is taking responsibility for assessing partnership requests for assistance in a balanced and objective manner. It is so difficult to refuse those who are in need.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

Seeing the results of our joint projects in photos. It is really moving to see those who have finally received what they need the most, something to smile about in the midst of this crisis. 

Interview with Taras Dumenko

Meet Taras Dumenko, General Manager of Nova Ukraine in Ukraine

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

Before the war, I was the Director of Innovation at an international auditing and consulting company called “Kreston Ukraine.” In my role, I helped businesses develop and implement innovative strategies.

Prior to that, I worked at Civitta Consulting, assisting small and medium size Ukrainian businesses to obtain grant funding from the European Union. I don’t want to appear immodest, but you could say I was a pioneer here in the development of the first grant program, “Horizon 2020.” Together with some key colleagues, we launched the Ukrainian Startup Fund.

I also assisted the Ministry of Digital Transformation get up and running. I never thought I’d be doing all of this, considering my start pricing pharmaceuticals at Pfizer. Life takes many unexpected turns.

The full-scale invasion “caught” me in Kyiv with my family. At that time, I was a member of the executive committee in the Hostomel village community. Suddenly, I found myself in the official role of coordinator of humanitarian evacuation corridors in Hostomel. I wasn’t prepared for this role, but few people in Kyiv could lead it. Having established the military administration in Hostomel by the decree of the President of Ukraine, I was appointed as its head.

On March 26, 2022, we were surprised by the swift occupation of the region. We built a team and went to work defining our functions. We were the first, so we had to do build a structure from scratch: preparing documents for the Cabinet of Ministers, providing recommendations for changes in legislation, and maintaining close contact with governmental ministries and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to ensure everything would work as planned.

Thankfully, Hostomel was de-occupied on April 2, and I immersed myself fully in the de-occupation process. This involved restoring power lines, utilities, gas supply, transportation, and communal services. It also included tasks that were not very pleasant, such as the exhumation of the deceased bodies and organizing the work of sappers, among other things.

I held this position for about four months and accomplished everything I set out to do. I had to learn quickly about demining territories and organizing electricity and gas supply. The dynamics of this were challenging, people’s needs changed by the hour. A total of 4,000 homes and structures had been destroyed. Fortunately, we were able to organize a network of humanitarian headquarters: the hero town of Moschun, the hero city of Hostomel, Ozera, and Horenka. The President of Ukraine recognized our leader with the “Golden Heart” award on Volunteer Day. It was deeply gratifying.

After that, I managed the “Drone Army” acceleration program initiated by UNITED24, where we assisted Ukrainian IT specialists and experts in accelerating the development of drones for the needs of the Ukrainian army. And at the end of November 2022, I joined Nova Ukraine as the CEO.

How does the war affect your daily life?

On February 23, I filled my car, stocked up on diapers and baby food (enough for two months), and loaded 53 books onto my e-reader. I thought I had prepared for everything, which I discussed with my loved ones. But everything turned out differently.

After my appointment as the Chief of the military administration of Hostomel, my wife and I decided that it would not be wise for our family to stay in Kyiv at that time. Fortunately, this separation didn’t last long.

This period taught me a lot. I had to absorb a lot of information in a very short time. I never thought I would have to cross the frontline, spend the night in the gray zone in the forest (because we were not allowed back in at first,) or become one of the coordinators for the Kyiv region, accompanying people.

Pure adrenaline kept me going those first few months. Due to the lack of qualified personnel in Kyiv in March 2022 (many had left), my friends from my university days stepped up and started working alongside me. There were tasks that seemed insurmountable, but as in our student years, we felt young and eager to dive in headfirst. During that period, I lost 31 kg in four months. There were few opportunities to eat or sleep more than four hours at a stretch.

I moved back to my house in Hostomel, which had been damaged by a shockwave that blew out the windows. I’d come home every night to a house that was 3-4 degrees Celsius, without water, electricity, or gas. I would crash for a few hours and then start again.

I encountered a lot of sorrow. My friend’s mother was shot dead driving her 10-year-old son. The boy survived but spent four days in a basement with strangers who hid him from Russian soldiers. Can you imagine what this child suffered? It becomes scary when human suffering and death become commonplace. You develop a thick skin so it won’t affect you as much. So you can go on, enduring 130 exhumations, countless funerals of fallen defenders, countless orphans, the death of a classmate or neighbor. It’s gut-wrenching.

Before this, it was hard for me to understand why older people value bread as much as they do. Why they cried or celebrated over a piece of bread. In Kyiv, all the shops closed on the 24 of February and started reopening about 10 days after the full-scale invasion. I remember the joy when a kiosk of Kyiv Bread Factory opened near me. People brought freshly baked loaves that I would never have bought until I understood what bread means to our people. When I ate it again, I tasted life and longevity.

Why did you decide to work at Nova Ukraine?

I had dedicated myself to working in the innovation and startup market, and so I knew about Nova Ukraine. It’s very highly regarded, and prominent venture investors are among the board members. I was particularly impressed by the work Nova Ukraine was doing in the medical arena, as I grew up in a family of doctors.

I was also acquainted with Katya Kovalenko, General Manager in the U.S. We had been mentors together at Hackathons “Synhroprostir” a few years prior. It was suggested that I apply for my position due to my relevant experience and the work I’d been doing at the start of the invasion. The application for the position was a very rigorous process. After many lengthy interviews, I became the General Manager of Nova Ukraine in Ukraine in November 2022.

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

I don’t divide work into office and non-office. In reality, my job is around the clock but it’s so meaningful I don’t mind.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday, my day starts at 5 a.m. meeting with my American colleagues. Then I drop off my child at daycare before I look in on my team. I have weekly meetings with each team member to assess how things are going, how they are changing, how we are planning and operationalizing projects.

In other words, throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., I dedicate myself entirely to the Ukrainian team. In the evenings, and sometimes until midnight, I check in again with the American team, resolve issues, participate in discussions, interviews, what each country is doing, and how we are coordinating.

But in a way, my task is singular: to clear the way for others to do what they need to do to help Ukraine.

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

I was struck by the Resilience Hub we opened in Izium after it was de-occupied. The city had suffered greatly during the occupation.

As had been the case in Hostomel, where I live, you could clearly see the frontline running the city. Half the city was occupied by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while the Russian forces occupied the other half. The part occupied by the Russians was almost entirely destroyed.

My house had no gates because the Russians parked their armored vehicles in the yard. They chose houses where civilians lived nearby and used them as cover.

Our Resilience Hub in Izium was located in a Cultural Center. The windows had been blown out, boarded up, and the roof, barely repaired, was leaking. It was located in a remote district that used to be lively the year before. The post office buildings, kindergarten, and cafes were in ruins… all we had was a makeshift field kitchen.

I remember many discussions with the team, who wanted us to be in a more vibrant district with high-rise buildings. However, my instinct and experience told me that people would come to our hub, not only for electricity and warmth, but for communication, connections, community. It was important for us to be where we were needed most. We hired people who had lost their jobs in the war to work at our hub (one had been a technician and chief engineer at the Izium Bread Factory).

I‘m proud of how we revitalized that district. We currently have around 600 people coming in per day. From nothing, it has become a place where people can come and connect to the internet. They can have a chat and enjoy a cup of hot tea. A library has also opened nearby, becoming a point of interest. These things are not nothing. They are bits of humanity when so much has been lost.

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

It’s a challenging question, but my personal opinion is that Ukrainians need targeted and intelligent support. In other words, they need fishing rods, not just fish.

Yes, many Ukrainians are currently below the poverty line, and many people lack access to basic necessities. But they want to be able to acquire these things for themselves. They need only the opportunity, the apparatus, the fishing rods.

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

I am drawn to challenges. My previous life is a testament to that. I launched the first grant program in Ukraine that provided funding to entrepreneurs. We built a transparent selection system and independent expert evaluation that operates within the framework of existing legislation. We also created educational materials for new startups so that you can learn and gain experience. We were the first to implement such projects in Ukraine. It’s all about development. I see nothing as static.

Currently, the biggest challenge for me is protecting my team of exceptional individuals so they don’t burn out. We are all volunteers who want to help our country. I want each team member to do what they consider necessary, so our organization can sustain itself and grow. The dynamics are positive. I see how people are growing into new roles, acquiring new skills, and adapting to ever-changing circumstances. It’s fantastic. There is no other word.

What is the most rewarding aspect?

That’s easy, the people. We are an organization about each other and about our country. It’s gratifying to see when individuals in our team bring about change. It’s heartwarming to witness transformation in the lives of those who receive assistance from our partners. They have the opportunity to plant gardens, feed their families, educate their children, take their children to a library or a park, and receive medical help.

When you witness how the work you are doing is directly impacting people in need, that in of itself, is the reward.

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

I would like to say “thank you” for all the help donors, volunteers and followers are providing to Ukraine today. I also invite them to visit us, whether it’s now or when we celebrate our victory, so they can see with their own eyes the changes that are happening thanks to their contributions. They can witness their impact on the lives of the people they have helped. They will not be disappointed.

Donate PayPal Credit Card Facebook Crypto