Ukraine In Lockdown: Stories From Three Local Communities

July 21, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has not been just about fear and social distancing. It has also inspired local communities to become major contributors to the coronavirus fight.
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UkraineWorld, together with our colleagues from Ukraine’s regional media, has collected stories from three local communities to show how they have adapted to the new realities.

Kharkiv engineers want to protect doctors

One of the most interesting stories took place in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine. Here, local engineers and volunteers created a protective helmet for doctors, writes Andriy Voinitskyi in his article published by mykharkov.info.

To help doctors, Kharkiv engineers from the "Garage Hub" joined a volunteer initiative and developed a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), which is 15 times cheaper than foreign alternatives.

Having tested the protective gear, doctors said the helmets from Kharkiv engineers were more comfortable than medical masks. "The PAPR combines two elements to protect doctors from infections - a protective mask and goggles -  while eliminating the disadvantages of both. Due to its comfort, it even can prevent unintentional medical error," said doctor Alexander Zolotarev.

The PAPR helmet is similar to that of a spacesuit, which receives air cleaned by a filter with the help of an industrial fan. Its surface is made of polyethylene film and polycarbonate, and it completely protects doctors from contact with patients' bodily fluids and respiratory droplets.

"When the whole coronavirus situation started, we saw that there was a shortage of medical supplies in many countries," says the helmet's developer, Roman Vidro. "And in some countries, such as Italy, communities of makers, enthusiasts and engineers have come together locally to make small batches of needed equipment and pass them on to doctors".

Since there are a lot of people with engineering skills in Ukraine, the developers have alos created an online platform called Yak.Today with all the useful instructions. The website brought together maker communities, physicians, and volunteers to address medical equipment shortages.

Ivano-Frankivsk: local community helps SMEs

During the pandemic, many local small and medium businesses (also called small and medium enterprises, or SMEs) around Ukraine found themselves on the brink of collapse. Some were forced to seek help from their communities. This story from Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine was covered by Oleksandr Kosteniuk for galka.if.ua.

The Facebook group Save FOP Galicia was one of the first to encourage citizens of Ivano-Frankivsk to help small businesses. This initiative offers effective communication between customers and local producers of fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, coffee, cakes, pastries, dairy products, cheeses, and much more. "The community works on trust, and the main criterion for controlling producers is customers' feedback", said local activist and group administrator Natalia Serbin.

A local marketing company helped the Facebook group develop and created an online catalog of manufacturers from the Facebook community. Experts plan to offer training and video instructions for entrepreneurs on how to use the site and add information about themselves and their products.

In response to their approach, the city council exempted entrepreneurs from paying a single tax or rent for the use of the communal property, and also initiated the project "Buy Ivano-Frankivsk, Give Work to Ivano-Frankivsk."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a difficult challenge for all of society, but it should be noted that even in these conditions, effective solutions must be sought", wrote Oleksandr Kosteniuk in the final lines of his article. The efforts of those who care haven't been ignored, and have allowed them to achieve results they want.

Big steps for small communities

Meanwhile, the community of Hlyboka, a quiet old town near Chernivtsi in  Southwestern Ukraine, is also fighting against the resist coronavirus. Even though the Bukovyna region was the first epicenter of the epidemic in Ukraine, the new global challenge of COVID-19 has united the town, writes Lyudmyla Cheredaryk in an article for versii.cv.ua.

Since family doctors were on at the frontlines of combating the virus, volunteers and entrepreneurs united efforts to assist them with protective gear and protect their residents from COVID-19. Quarantine forced the town council to hold online meetings to deal with the consequences of the pandemic more effectively. They issued recommendations for social distancing and provided the community with necessary information.

All these stories from different regions of Ukraine show that local communities stood strong in the face of the new challenge and helped each other to prevent and combat the pandemic.


This article was produced through the stipend program Remain in the Profession, run by Internews Ukraine.

The program is made possible by the support of the American people through the Media Program in Ukraine, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Internews. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and Internews Ukraine and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government or Internews.

Yaroslava Kobynets
journalist at Internews Ukraine

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