Volunteer front. Andrianna Matskiv

How to deliver thousands of first-aid kits from abroad and raise money at a photo exhibition? It’s easy if you’re Andrianna Matskiv, a volunteer of the Women Veterans and head of partnerships. Before the invasion, Audrey was engaged in real estate and after Victory plans to concentrate on the recovery of the Ukrainian economy and business. From procurement and international partnerships, from charity events to military rehabilitation, Audrey works tirelessly for Victory. Read more about how Audrey started volunteering and recovering from the stress of war.

When the invasion began, most Ukrainians had a question: volunteer or fight – and everyone put their lives on hold. What did you have to give up, what work did you put off and what did you have to lose?

When the full-scale invasion began, I was working in Kyiv, selling international real estate. From the first days, I understood that I will definitely not leave and I will definitely volunteer – I am needed right here. I myself am from the West of Ukraine, my mother is from Mukachevo, my father is from Lviv. Despite the fact that all my relatives had left Kyiv, I knew for sure that I would be here, but I was only thinking about where exactly.

And somewhere on the third day, I saw a post from Cuba, whom I have known for 15 years, that they had opened the Rapid Response Headquarters of the Women Veterans Movement. I went there, asked myself what was needed, and immediately fell into a frenzy with quite voluminous tasks. She immediately began to coordinate the purchase of large batches of first-aid kits — thousands, thousands of first-aid kits. Well, I proved myself in this way, I was engaged in all sorts of things that I don’t even remember anymore, and I lived to the point where I started to coordinate our partnership department. This is to say briefly.

I was a volunteer in 2014 — but this experience was negative. In 2014, I left my business, went from the West to Dnipro, but all opportunities and abilities were blocked for me, the environment was toxic. And Women Veterans allowed me to express myself, I got into the right environment of people with the right values, so probably everything works out.

“Everything works out” is of course a very broad concept, but now there are many things that I have never done before. For example, she did not organize exhibitions, as we organized in Alaska for the medevac collection. The initiation of the medevac collection was very interesting. Cuba simply said they needed an ambulance. I went through the funds, we did not have the opportunity to buy on our own then, we just bought an ambulance for the Belarusians [Belarusian regiment]. I was rejected by three funds – as it were, fast specific, military purpose. Well, it pissed me off, and I wrote to my colleague in Russia. I say: “Alla, listen, we really have such a cool case – Cuba, Alaska, the queue – everything is alive and real; let’s dare to collect it ourselves.

And so we activated, one might say, our first huge collection.

We decided to collect on the Defender (an armored ambulance for the Kherson region) only after the collection on the medevac became successful. There was a lot of “dances with a tambourine” around the evacuee gathering, we did many things for the first time.

And in general, I love business as such, so I proved to be effective in terms of organization. I understand the corporate stuff of the B2B segment, because I worked for 8 years in the commercial real estate rental segment on the Kyiv market. I had my own business, a clothing store, for 5 years.

But I still have a professional hobby – I am a film actress. I just started to develop this career, because in Ukraine it is still a weak market. By the way, an interesting fact: after a month and a half, it turned out that almost everyone at the headquarters is a movie star! That is, we are professionally manifested in this field at the same time. That’s why Women Veterans is going to shoot some project of its own in the future, with net or film… But it didn’t get to that point. Maybe it’s after the victory.

Part of the people who chose to volunteer sooner or later face the problem of emotional burnout. Some large organizations are trying to help with this. How are you, how are you coping, and does the Women Veterans’ work in this direction?

Well, let’s put it this way: I have problems, but it’s not burnout. It turned out that my body was receiving background stress, no matter how I lied to myself and tried to recover, go somewhere or something else, turn off my phone for the weekend – it still turned out that my body was receiving quite a lot of stress in the background. This caused health problems, some neuroses, but it is not burnout. That is, burnout is when you don’t want to do anything anymore, I never had that. I had the feeling that I needed to change the perspective of work, solve health issues or reduce the pace. Although I thought for some time that I don’t have it, I am so calm, but it turned out that I was lying to myself.

How am I coping? I get nervous, cry, go to the doctors, get treatment, go through this crisis — and then it passes, like a transition to another stage. But to say that I have some kind of tool or that I immediately take care of myself – I can’t say that. Sometimes it is quite difficult, but I am going through this situation.

What is the most valuable case you have already become involved in while volunteering and what keeps you motivated to continue working?

I became involved in the procurement of thousands of units of tacmed — and not only for the Movement. The first batch of 2,000 first-aid kits was delivered by the Emergency Medical Services – they arrived very soon, thanks to my coordination from Israel. But then I was contacted by other funds, and I coordinated purchases already for 5 thousand.

And when they write to you from the front that your tourniquet saved a life, how can that not motivate you? I know only a few such cases, and how many do I not know?

Similarly, the medevac fee was the first such fee for a non-standard car, which is difficult to purchase. I was the brave initiator of this gathering, several patrons and foundations gathered around it, and we also made new friends.

It was a rather difficult case — firstly, he proved that it was possible to do it from start to finish. And secondly, the medevac collection inspired Women Veterans to further bold collections for cool wheelbarrows. We collect much faster now, people trust us even more, and even more cool collections are ahead. Every time a new bar is taken. And I am inspired by height in life. And of course, faster speed brings our Victory much, much faster.

When you volunteer, you have a direct relationship with saving lives, and you become simply tangential to the process — it’s like a butterfly wing, it flapped somewhere, and at the other end gave such a result! There, she arranged some cool events, helped us get on the radio, established partnerships with various interesting brands. I am proud of the fact that I helped strengthen the “Veteranka” brand, because these girls cause me great respect and love, and I absolutely trust them. I see that these people will give their last – and everything will go to Victory. I went through the most difficult period with them and I see this same devotion every day. So I’m glad I was able to add value to this organization. Because there are very cool people there.

The West is frantically trying to contain the situation with the fall of the missile in Poland, so as not to start the third world war, in your opinion, will Ukraine be able to maintain the balance and how much more effort and resources will be invested in victory?

The sooner we are armed, the better we will be able to hold the balance, because we show superhuman abilities in our resistance. Well, in general, what we do on the battlefield is a miracle and everyone admits it. We are derailing this “Third World” in fact with our lives. Many more resources will be invested. And therefore it will be necessary to prepare for this. Winter is hard, and we are already beginning to feel its weight. But nothing, I can stand it, that’s all. We will definitely endure.

How do you see your volunteering future and what will you do after winning?

I did not count on any post-war volunteer activities, although these plans are now being made anyway. Next, I would like to attract funds for the reconstruction of Ukraine, in the economy of Ukraine, in business – and I am already starting to do this. I like the economic component, so I’m currently studying grant writing, fundraising strategies. And I still have several ideas in my head and partially on paper regarding the project for the rehabilitation of soldiers. This applies to rehabilitation, psychological and physiological at the same time, in the sanatoriums of Transcarpathia, at recreation centers. These are short-term programs, and I have already taken some concrete steps in this direction. And where he will take it later – I don’t know. I want to do business, act in movies. I don’t want more, probably. Having my business again, which I lost, is even bigger than the one I had in 2014. I already know now what mistakes should not be made. And I want to act in movies. These are my two wishes. As for volunteering, I will do what I can. Maybe everything will somehow be connected.

I am now delving a lot into projects related to the reintegration and rehabilitation of veterans, their social adaptation to life. Everything I see is interesting to me for the future. I am contacting everyone I can about this. Veterans Affairs also help in this: I am currently being sent to a conference in Truskavets, where they will share their experience on the topic of reintegration of veterans. In any case, I will try to do everything to restore our veterans. Girls, boys – everyone I can. And children, because we will have a crippled country after the war. It’s getting pretty hard already.

Do you think that after the war, the volunteers will also need rehabilitation and social adaptation?

Oh, I know so many people who already need it. Recently, my friend directly complained: “I don’t know how to be happy, laugh, or live right now…” Well, it’s not about us, not about Women Veterans for sure. But yes, of course. I, for example, need some rehabilitation now, I can already see it. Apparently, a long stay in some quiet place, under normal conditions is needed. This is my kind of rehabilitation. And not two weeks, but more. But there are those who need, for example, psychological help, some even a psychiatrist. You just don’t need to lie to yourself that there is no stress, and try to reduce this stress. Because he is anyway. It is necessary to realize that it exists, and only in this way you can do something with it.

 What would you advise other volunteers not to do?

 I would not advise you not to skip yourself.