Every day in Ukraine, thousands of people fleeing to the west arrive at Lviv railway station. Most of them, women with children.
100,000 incredible young volunteers like 16-year-old Solomiya have stepped up to offer food and advice to the new arrivals. They have been able to efficiently coordinate their efforts thanks to the UNICEF and the Ukrainian Volunteer Service (UVS) chatbot. Both on-site and remotely, volunteers are able to process requests and offer timely and useful information to Ukrainians in need.
Solomiya recalled how shocked she was when it all began. “I didn’t know what to do. My father and I packed up and just sat on the ground floor. That’s how we spent the first half of the day. In the afternoon, I felt like I wanted to do something. I couldn't just sit still.”
In the beginning, Solomiya distributed clothes to displaced people at a store in Lviv, where she lives. Soon after, she volunteered at the Administrative Service Centre. But Solomiya wanted to be around people. That is when she found an opportunity assisting the evacuation at the railway station.
“When I see with my own eyes at the station people coming from other cities and the wounded, I feel strongly committed to act.”
It’s families like Olha, Danylo and their 10-year-old son Tymur who are in desperate need of these services. On the platform at Lviv station, the young boy hides behind his parents, shell shocked and afraid. It’s an all too familiar picture for Solomiya. She works both weekends and weekdays while also finding time for own project SafeRoom. An online platform offering psychological assistance to adolescents.
Solomiya is determined to continue volunteering, making a difference and, eventually, helping to rebuild her country. “You don’t have to be a politician to change the world,” she says. “Maybe I can become a good journalist. For now, I’m here.”