Chronicle of the Russo-Ukrainian War: Our Volunteers

7 min read

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.“

G. K. Chesterton

February 24, 2022 — the day that divided the Contemporary history of Ukraine, Europe, and the whole world into before and after. Brutally and silently, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine as a new phase of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war that started in 2014. Ukrainians were ready for such a turn of events, but nobody believed it would happen.

GMS started as a small team in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Now, we are a global company with offices and employees all over the world. But that doesn’t change a thing — in GMS, we embrace our roots. Besides, a large portion of our multinational tribe still lives and works in Ukraine.

From the first days of the war, GMS has taken a stance — we stand with Ukraine. Many of our colleagues, inside and outside the country, are actively defending and helping our company’s Motherland in different ways. Some of them agreed to share their stories.


Kateryna
Commercial Department

The shelling of Kyiv by Russian troops started suddenly. Neither my loved ones nor I were ready for such a brutal attack. My apartment is located between Podil and Obolon districts, not far from the place where a Russian tank ran over a man, trapping him in his car. After realising what was going on, we packed up and headed west, to my hometown. On the very next day, I contacted the mayor and offered my help; my friends also decided to join me and take an active part in the volunteer movement.

In cooperation with local authorities, we established a logistics centre Uhelp to facilitate the transportation of humanitarian and medical aid from Europe to Ukraine: that includes all the organisational and legal procedures, as well as transporting this aid to those in need. Trucks with food, medicine, clothes, blankets, power generators, ammunition, fuel, and hygiene stuff are delivered daily to Mykolaiv, Bucha, Borodianka, Izum, Chernihiv and many other locations in Ukraine. Nobody wants to live in a warzone, so our volunteers also help relocate people to the west of Ukraine or even further west — to Europe. And obviously, providing our defence forces with the necessary equipment and ammunition is a must. There is a constant need for more bulletproof vests, helmets, and thermal imagers so we raise funds to purchase and deliver them to the front line.

I’m very happy that my professional experience turned out to be valuable in wartime. I can organise logistics, I can negotiate and sell the idea of helping Ukraine to people abroad, I can mobilise my network of contacts for a good cause. Life has taught me: do what you can do best, and you will get results. There is a place for everyone during these uncertain times, and everyone can find a way to help our people and country.


Magda
Product Marketing Unit

I know a lot of people in Ukraine, privately and professionally. So many of our colleagues with whom I work daily are currently facing indescribable terror, which makes it very personal for me. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also an attack on Europe. I just had to act.

In the first weeks of the war, I got involved in helping Ukrainian families who were crossing the border into Poland — trying to arrange transport, looking for a place for them to stay, collecting or translating information that would help them in those first days. More recently, I joined a private initiative here in Switzerland. Together we’ve set up a “free shop” for Ukrainian families in the Canton of Aargau. Now, it is open and running in full swing, the next challenge is to keep it going. We are currently looking for ways to spread the word about it locally to ensure that the donations — especially for most needed items – keep coming in. Also, some of the donated items are also packed and sent directly to Ukraine.

When Ukraine wins the war, I can’t see anything that could stop me from finally visiting this beautiful country. It might be a GMS business trip or a private one, but I will visit Kyiv one way or another. I’m sure there will be a lot of chances to volunteer and help clean up the city, and I hope it will happen very soon.


Maryna
Internal Communications Unit

At GMS, I lead internal communications and events, and my HR experience came in handy in wartime as I am now serving in a military unit’s personnel department. My duties cover personnel administration, working with documents and databases, and many related issues in personnel management. My proficiency in English also helps me to establish cooperation with foreign volunteer organisations.

In the first days of the war, the Territorial Defence became one of country’s first lines of defence, so without wasting time, I joined it. No fear, no doubt, just the desire to be useful. It is a great honour for me to be among people fighting for our freedom and in the truest sense of the word I feel this is my moral duty, to be here and now helping my people and my homeland! The people I am working with, out here fighting for our freedom, are a shining example of dignity and bravery for the whole world!

I believe in our victory and look forward to it. Now, my country is united like never before. I think that this incredible energy and spirit, empowering us now, will turn into a strong drive to rebuild and further develop a prosperous and peaceful Ukraine.


Dmytro
Information Security Department

I have been working at GMS in the information security department for several years. The war made my position even more critical for the company as the number of cyberattacks increased significantly. Together with the team, we carried out preparatory measures and vulnerability testing to identify potential security incidents. Using our expert knowledge of information security, I actively participated in cyberattacks on Russian and Belarusian internet resources, together with colleagues at GMS and friends from other companies. I believe that Ukraine has shown an example of how ordinary people can organise themselves and carry out successful massive cyberattacks as a part of a military campaign — the first of its kind in history.

I also try to be useful in person as well as online: like many other Ukrainians, I joined the Territorial Defence Forces. Also, financial support for our Armed Forces and volunteers goes without saying — that’s my civic duty.

What am I going to do after Ukraine is free? Well, this war has forced me to reconsider my outlook on life. Priorities have changed. Of course, I plan to continue training in the Territorial Defence unit to be able to take up arms to defend my family and country if I have to. This war has also shone a light on several of my responsibilities in the office too: сyber threat protection, business continuity planning and more.

For me, February 24 started with frustration. I did not understand what was going on at first. A bitter realisation came when the first bomb hit my hometown — Russian troops were 15 km from it. After I got to a safe place, I knew that I had to act to protect my home, as Chernihiv was on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. I came up with an idea to collect money for humanitarian aid and posted it on our internal group — to an instant result of 50 thousand UAH. Other people also joined, and after a week, we had an incredibly motivated team. Our first dangerous task was transporting three generators across the Desna river for a maternity hospital under shelling. We were among the first to bring humanitarian aid, Starlinks, medicines and medical supplies to the city. At the same time, I began receiving calls for military-related help: now, we are processing completely different requests, from boots to bulletproof vests to all kinds of military equipment. 

There is no doubt that I will continue to help serve our country after our victory. I’m sure a lot of hard work will have to be done soon, and my new experience will come in handy when the time comes. I will give everything for Ukraine!


Mykola
Technical Department

Frankly speaking, the war hasn’t changed much for me in terms of my day-to-day role at GMS: my tasks are virtually the same as they used to be before the Russian invasion. But when it comes to the rest of my life — the changes are tremendous. Currently I am staying in the west of Ukraine temporarily. I decided that sitting on my hands was the worst thing I could do and joined the local public order service. What does that mean? Together with my friends and other generous volunteers, we helped refugees get from the train station to their place of temporary residence and collected humanitarian aid, so they had everything they needed. After this started to slow down my role here changed, and now I am predominantly serving at checkpoints. Also, helping our Armed Forces and Territorial Defence units financially, as well as volunteering, has become another integral part of my daily routine.

After our victory, which I am sure is imminent, we Ukrainians will have even more work to do. As for me, I plan to finally find that subtle balance between living a full personal life and serving my beloved country.

Taking a stand does not always require your physical presence; you may simply contribute by financially supporting Ukraine. GMS has donated to the Ukrainian war effort; if you’d like to assist Ukraine reclaim its independence, please consider the following links:

NBU’s Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians Affected by Russia’s Aggression

The Return Alive Foundation

Uhelp

Mariia’s Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Aid

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