«At the moment volunteering feels like a duty»
The head of FRI Kyiv, Anna Korenevska, gave an interview about her volunteering activities before and during the war, her projects, and gave advice for those who are striving to take up volunteering.
How rapidly has your pace of life changed with the start of the war?
My timetable depends on air alarms now. I don’t go to work, but I use this time for volunteering.
A lot of Ukrainians can’t be productive or simply can’t hold routine now. Where do you draw energy?
It is difficult to answer this question, because sometimes I myself don’t know where to get energy…Probably time spent outside, communicating with friends and FRI members help me to stay productive.
Did you experience risky moments?
Luckily, I avoided such moments. Maybe a bit dangerous was, for example, the last time when 5 missiles hit Lviv and I wasn’t in the shelter. Also, when my friend and I went to get water from a pump room, we heard something flying above us. That was also scary.
Is it hard to help? Is volunteering background necessary for people who want to help?
I didn’t notice that volunteering background was obligatory. The main thing is your desire — when you want to help, then others will learn from you. For instance, knitting nets, unloading of humanitarian aid — everything will be taught when needed.
I volunteered to help children with special needs. Even though there wasn’t any special tutoring, everybody had their assignments and everybody grasped skills fast.
How did your volunteering journey start?
I think I was 15 years old. when my mom sent me the link to the registration of volunteers for “Arsenal Book Festival”. It was my first conscious step into volunteering. However, if we want to be more precise, the very first familiarisation was painting the playground in the project for children, I was approximately 9 years old.
How have your volunteering projects changed with the start of the war?
My volunteering projects are connected with activity in an orphanage as they used to be a long time ago. I was also trying a new format – online volunteering. Recently I have been to the rehabilitation centre for disabled children where I also worked for free. But my projects became more focused on FRI activity. It is reasonable because I am the head of FRI Kyiv, which is the biggest in Ukraine.
How have your emotions and inner state changed since the beginning of a large-scale war?
At the moment volunteering feels for me like a duty. If earlier it was more for myself, fun and engagement, now it is something I have to do, I can do and I am doing right now, for my country, considering my possibilities.
What motivates you to volunteer at these uneasy times?
Everything is easy. The desire to be useful is the main thing, and the desire to direct energy in the right way, to use it for people’s welfare.
Which projects are you involved in or plan to take part in?
Now I am limited by the activity in FRI. As being the head of the organisation takes much time, now I am busy with FRI projects. Still really want to go volunteering in a musical festival like ‘Atlas’ but it is hard to organise something similar now because of the war.
Do you have any advice for people who are only beginning to volunteer?
My advice stays the same independently from the 24th of February: I advise people not to be afraid to break into youth movements, even if they are not familiar to you. It is a possibility to expand your horizons and to meet lots of people. So do not be afraid to apply for projects and write cool frank motivation letters even if you have no experience, because sometimes you can be accepted just for your outspoken and sincere thoughts. It is never too late to start!