Plast: In Unity is Strength
Plast Ukraine, in partnership with Nova Ukraine, has been distributing vital supplies, medicine and support to the people of Ukraine since war erupted on February 24, 2022. Established in 1911, Plast has noble beginnings, drawing its inspiration from another beloved organization, the Boy Scouts, founded in Great Britain in 1908. Plast’s principles are deeply rooted in its loyalty to the nation of Ukraine and an inherent philosophy of service to others. We took some moments to ask Plast more about its beginnings and how the organization has navigated the difficult road of providing lifesaving necessities to those who need it most.
NOVA UKRAINE: Plast has a long history of serving the community with active organizations in over 24 countries. The world has observed the bravery and dedication of Ukrainian citizens and their passion to preserve Ukraine’s culture and identity. Could it be Plast’s scouting influence has permeated the country’s citizens, young and old.
PLAST: Of course! Plast, as an organization, was founded in difficult times for Ukraine. In 1911-1912, Ukrainian statehood was influenced by Russia and Poland, and none of these countries were interested in preserving or developing Ukrainian organizations, such as Plast. However, Ukrainian centrism and Ukrainian values allowed Plast’s people to protect their language and culture and pass it on to their descendants. Loyalty to Ukraine, despite all disagreements, is at the heart of the oath of allegiance to the Scouts.
NOVA UKRAINE: How has Plast been able to organize and respond to the call for emergency humanitarian aid?
PLAST: Plast members have always volunteered, so all we needed was to unite. In the first minutes of the war, here in Lviv, we gathered at the main office of Plast – a team of 7 administrators and several dozen Plast members. We realized that we must do something. We started by posting on Facebook that we were collecting humanitarian aid, and placed sorting boxes in the largest room.. The next day, dozens more joined our volunteer team. In only three days, we opened 17 more help spots in Lviv where people brought medicine, clothes, and food every hour! Even local authorities and businesses began supporting us. Every day we receive requests that we are able to cover because of our team of more than 300 volunteers. Our slogan “In unity is strength” highlights our focus on working with our partners to have the highest impact.
NOVA UKRAINE: As a valued partner, Nova Ukraine relies on Plast for its vital distribution of lifesaving supplies to Ukraine’s vulnerable peoples. With Russian forces attempting to block supply routes, what challenges has Plast encountered?
PLAST: Before the invasion, our organization’s activities concentrated in Lviv, and we had the support of city authorities. However, the war limited our contact. We even faced instances where our vehicles came under fire during deliveries. Despite the dangerous circumstances, our delivery drivers humbled us with their courage and dedication to service: “Until I deliver, I won’t come back. People need help.”
NOVA UKRAINE: Are there any particular stories since the invasion related to Nova Ukraine’s direct impact on an individual or organization you could share?
PLAST: We are very inspired by the stories told by our logisticians, who are in direct contact with volunteers who coordinate the delivery of aid to vulnerable persons in hot spots. Words of gratitude, calls, and messages are the most significant “payment” for our work and honestly, what makes us work even harder.
PLAST: Recently, several Kharkiv hospitals where we have repeatedly sent help were waiting for drivers from Plast Lviv with tears in their eyes. The fact is, various organizations send support to hospitals, but not always on demand. Plast members are always looking to fulfill the most critical medical needs that may be difficult to find in Ukraine. Our last such shipment to Kharkiv was with the help of Nova Ukraine and Ira Berezhnytska, a 15-year member of Plast and key coordinator who organizes the distribution of vital medicines to areas of great need. “I do not consider any other way than to fully put all my possible and impossible forces into volunteering activities,” Ira says.
NOVA UKRAINE: What particular victories would Plast like to share?
PLAST: In the first six weeks since the invasion began, the Lviv Plast Center has provided 47 cities with humanitarian aid and medicine. That’s 197 buses and 56 trucks delivering 1575 tons of supplies! Most of this assistance, including medications, was purchased with the financial support of Nova Ukraine. We processed 400 requests from local help centers, hospitals, and individual military battalions. The global awareness of the war, the unity of the nation of Ukraine and the incredible support of resources, skills, and financials helped us to accomplish this. Our volunteers, donors, and partners multiply our impact. Thank you!
NOVA UKRAINE: There are many Plast organizations throughout the world which are part of a concerted effort to aid Ukraine. For example, members of Plast’s USA branches have been working hard to assemble portable kits that Ukrainians could carry and have on hand if hit by shattered glass or shrapnel. What is the greatest need at present to support Plast’s efforts on the ground?
PLAST: Every Plast branch in Ukraine is now actively volunteering. Plast members in Kyiv joined the Territorial Defense – this is their battlefield. Plast in Kharkiv coordinates humanitarian aid transfers from other cities to hospitals, and senior centers. Plast Ivano-Frankivsk is also involved in collecting humanitarian aid for internally displaced persons in their new locations. We keep in touch with all members of Plast Ukraine and the world, and we know that each of us are doing everything in our power to bring Ukraine closer to victory.
NOVA UKRAINE: How has Plast’s partnership with Nova Ukraine made an impact on the vital necessities since war erupted?
PLAST: Nova Ukraine is our most significant financial partner, thanks to which we manage to fulfill the most complex request that comes to us – medicine. There are now a lot of wounded people in need of specific medication, and finding certain types of medicine in the country is not so easy. They often need to be purchased from abroad. Not all humanitarian centers process such requests due to their complexity – finances and time, so our work in this direction is vital. We are grateful to Nova Ukraine for the opportunity to provide this assistance and try to do everything possible to coordinate the search and logistics of critical and rare requests to those who need it.
NOVA UKRAINE: What help can the world continue to offer Plast?
PLAST: At Plast Lviv, we are open to all kinds of support – financial, resources, information, because every contribution is crucial. You can donate to our organization (https://lviv.plast.org.ua/) or contact our international department for information on donating food, medicine, or other aid. We constantly update the list of everything we need on our website. You can also help spread the word by tagging @lvivplast on social media. Now, during the war, all help is essential. Ukraine must not disappear from the news and the thoughts of people worldwide. So #standwithukraine.
NOVA UKRAINE: Is there anything you’d like to add? Any question you wish we’d asked which deserves attention?
PLAST: If you are interested in our activities – follow @lvivplast on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok. Everyday we publish photo reports from people who have successfully received help, speak about our volunteers, and share news. In addition to Plast, many other organizations are now working on the humanitarian front to support Ukraine. We are confident that service unites all Ukrainians and will lead our country to victory because our people are extraordinary. We are sincerely glad that Plast Lviv is doing our part along with the support of Nova Ukraine.
Follow Plast Lviv on Social Media and support our joint efforts in Ukraine!