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Interview with Svetlana Volovych: “We did what we could, it was our form of struggle for our house and land for life, which we did not want to lose …”. for UWG



Born in Dnipro. She is married and has a daughter – student . She Studied at the Normal School (teacher of primary classes) In 1995 graduated from Dnipro National University,  specialty -“Psychology and Pedagogy”. More than 20 years working in the DAVIS casa company including 8 years as director of the DAVIS  furniture salon  in Dnipro. Participant of the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity in Dnipro. Since 2014 actively engaged in volunteering and charity.




UWG: Path from a  successful sales manager of furniture to volunteer – how it was?

I am still selling furniture, as before, working as a director in the best modern furniture salon in  Dnipro and this is my only income on which I live … .And I became a  volunteer like many of my friends in Dnipro  and in Ukraine in 2014. Frankly speaking, it seems, we were very scared when some actions have  started quite near us… and we had no desire to go anywhere – to run . We did what we could, and it was our form of struggle for our houses and land for the family and the life which we do not want to lose .. So we started together to support first of all our army and then their  families with various possible ways …

UWG: You were among the first volunteers in Ukraine began to work with the families of soldiersl. What was the impetus?

The impetus in mass death and wounded Ukrainian soldiers, volunteers in the summer of 2014 … .And then Sasha Chernikov (unfortunately , he was killed Jan. 20, 2015 in the Battle of Avdiyivka) from 9th squadron 25 brigade,  along with his wife Irynka created a Facebook group with  support for families of those  who suffered at the front. I, along with many friends and family immediately joined. I remember the horror that we experienced in those days, sitting at the TV monitors and receiving messages and calls from the front. “Ambulance ” is constantly worn in the city, crowded hospitals (in which was not even enough of towels and linen, not to mention drugs …), the search of the wounded and died..all is just fell on the shoulders of volunteers. We were  asked for help from family and doctors, and military … I, as a woman and mother could no longer sit at home and just cry. I remember that gut and skin sometimes feel the fear and frustration that is felt tens, hundreds of women who waited at least some news of her husband … and when the news was sad … it is already quite difficult to imagine what  they passed through and how  do not loose mind … because together with my husband and another family (Ludmila and Alexander Vinnichenko) started to go to military bases in Novomoskovsk district and meet with widows and children. Then our trips have attracted other volunteers. Then we still do not know how to do better and acted intuitively, collected some things, buying stationery by 1 September, and other household items, food. And at the same time it was as an occasion for acquaintance in order  they not to feel loneliness. We gave them a contact of lawyers, psychologists, physicians and volunteers. Gradually we began to invite in Dnipro for cultural holiday or comings with all sorts of performances or workshops to the town of Cherkasy, we ​​started to create groups of psychological care, met and began to work with the management and staff of the House of Officers. And now we communicate with those first families. For me personally, they have become almost a family, I know how and when their children are sick when and how there are some important events in their lives,  when they have a problem and  worries where their children study etc. … We try to help everyone who turns to us and we  are looking for new families who may have never heard about us but need our support or simply communication and compassion. Because war is still going ….

UWG: The “ Shuhlyadka” (The Drawer) – how the project is  appeared?

What are the dynamics of development, and what the  prospects of this project?

This project was when we met Irynka Levitsky, who also worked same as we – collected and transported things for families of those who killed and wounded from ATO … We do it together. Then, over time, the number of families we have helped systematically started to grow. And the idea to organize a centralized store for free military families, right there on the spot, they have a military settlement in Cherkasy. It was very convenient for families. But from idea to realization was still a long way: we had to find premises, transport and volunteers in place to resolve the issue with furniture, shelves and etc ..When all the puzzles match, all the people and things found, remained the last – name. We wanted something interesting and easy to remember. And one night (which is already familiar to us, volunteers time to “work” and communication) by “brainstorming techniques” and we got this name –Shuhlyadka (The Drawer)! Now all Dnipro footballers and all our family and so called second and another – “boutique” – is stuck in the Cherkasy where the Shuhlyadka (Drawer) was not the only item on assistance to families, but also a meeting place and communication, especially for widows. I confess that this was primarily our main goal – that these women are not sitting home alone within four walls, sobbing into a pillow, and they would have a place where they could find solace, to say to each other, they feel help, who has just buried her husband. This was such a supposedly self-help group. On the basis of Shuhlyadka (Drawers) in  Guards Officers we hold workshops and communication with psychologists, there are girls celebrate birthdays and other holidays. While people need this place – we will try to support them and send various necessary things to look for new forms of assistance, because now there is the main burden falls on essentially a volunteer – Oksana Sytnik. She has, of course, several assistants, but equally she has to combine the basic work and Shuhlyadka (Drawers). And well, so that many women are offer help themselves, give clothes and toys, household items and even furniture that they no longer need, is a range of good-turn. And we are very happy of this … So is no wonder if people have found the strength to help others.

UWG: Dnipro volunteers are among the more known in Ukraine,  how do you  describe yourself do you have a special “Dnipro” character?

Indeed, I met and became friends during the Maidan war and many good people, which later became known as “volunteers” … as  a minimum – good people, but  a maximum – people who are distinguished by their spiritual, moral, and of course – organizational qualities. Persons with a clear patriotic position. I found people with the same spirit, people I  can write or  call in night time and know that they will understand and listen. Yes, most of them – a girl. The girls are active, confident, able to fight back and who need to be gentle with whom it should. Among them are people of different professions, income, interests. We got acquainted and dragged ourselves to this good circulation of active, creative and caring people. Together we go to concerts, theaters, workshops or yoga. We often communicate, rescued each other in some situations, inform each other of important events and sharing necessary for common business information … That’s probably the most important, our feature: no one pulls on a blanket all make one great common cause, whether hospital volunteer or ATO, you help sick kids or old people. There is  a task, rather, you make it and perform, if there is a problem, you will find help to  solve it, just call for help – for sure you  find someone who fills you shoulder or give practical advice. But if not  the mutual – I have long been exhausted, and so I always have someone to be equal and from whom  take an example. In Dnipro it is a trend – to be a volunteer, helping people, animals, donate blood for the wounded and sick … Each of us – personality, but at the same time, each feels a part of something big and good. Over the several years, our Dnipro is awakened, revived, and it is appeared the new generation of indifferent townspeople and I am happy to be among them.

UWG: Professional, happy wife, mother, social activist – implementation is successful, is there still space for development?

If someone told me three years ago that I would do now, what to do in my free time, most of my weekends, I would probably not have believed … So now I know that there is still many new and interesting, and I’m open to unknown to me until experience is open to experiments and somewhat unusual but useful for me and society … Maybe I am  going back to its roots, to what admired in my  youth, because by profession I am a psychologist and teacher, it’s always was interesting for me, especially I liked to communicate with children … and here you are, we currently have a club weekend, we conduct various activities for mothers with children, and recently I was a co-organizer of the international project «Ukrainian children of war» with the Ukrainian side we drove twenty children from families of those killed and injured in the ATO Ukrainian troops from all over Ukraine to Scotland for ten days. The trip was just fabulous! After that I believe in many things, but in the beginning and in the middle of the project preparation I sometimes thought it was the realm of fantasy and nothing happens. But the goal was, I knew for whom and why all our efforts, and many people helped us, and it inspires! So I think I still can surprise my family and myself.

UWG: Have you met in your life with gender discrimination?

Fortunately, I practice not familiar with this concept. Is that still at school, our class had a couple of strong but stupid boys, but we have learned to give them resistance. Besides, I have two younger brothers, so more likely I “discriminated” them in childhood. Thank God, on my way I have met only smart and decent man, I do not care, anyway, with whom to communicate, work and with whom to be friends, a woman or man, if he or she is  interesting, intelligent and kind by nature – sex for me has no value.

UWG: You have traveled a lot, because of  work, and with  family – in which country and which city you would like to live?

I think if I would not live in Ukraine and not in Dnipro , so would it be. I am a person rather reckless than sensible and emotional by nature, psychological comfort to me more important than 20 kinds of sausage and its presence-absence in stores. Although, a good meal and beautiful dress I love, like any normal person … When many of my friends and acquaintances have emigrated, I do not condemn them,  but I  never  want to leave even in another city of Ukraine, so how we can talk about other country. I close to Italy and Spain in spirit and atmosphere, the culture, I love Barcelona, ​​and now also sympathize Scotland, conquered my nature, ancient castles and very friendly people … I would like to probably stay somewhere for a while, if it was possible with my  family in the new place, a little to soak up the culture and language of various countries and peoples. But here in Ukraine, I feel at home, I was always drawn back,  in Ukraine – all my relatives and people close to me, it is  important for me to talk and think on my  native language, here people who understand me perfectly and there is always someone to talk to and meet,  start something new and remember the past …. It’s a real pleasure: go to the Dnipro, always meet familiar faces … Sometimes I think that we all somehow relatives or friends together … Maybe all this can be found in the new place, but I think that our Motherland , as parents and children was given  by someone higher. And get off it can only ever good reason, extreme and vital circumstances.

UWG: The power of women – what is it?

In love, tolerance and wisdom, did not argue but listen and make the own way, but so that the result would  better for everyone. The ability to find a balance between beloved husband and child, work, hobbies and  nest, and to avoid of losing the true self in all of this …

UWG: What is your perfect day?

Now – a day when you do not need to be in a hurry while still have time! And we must make a lot …

UWG: Dream, goal, cherished desire?

My dream – of course, peace and tranquility in native country,  homes,  native hut, without war, tears and death. The country where the state will appreciate its citizens, and young and old, and finally will take care of them. The dream to live in a country from which anyone will not want “throw”, where it is possible to earn  well and honestly,  travel anywhere, worldwide holiday for new experiences and happily come back home, so that when comparing “here” and ” there ‘eyes are not dimmed with tears of despair, fear and dullness around the poverty line … The goal – finally to learn English in high level to communicate even approximately equal with the world. In this way I work. Well, the cherished desire is a  cherished so I do not  tell it no one! So far it has not done, and the circumstances in our country, I am afraid that it is not realizable, … but I am an incorrigible optimist, so: to be continued !!!!! And it’s fun!




Photo from personal archive of Svetlana Volovych


Interview for UWG:  Olena Biletska (initiator), Radmila Korzh (press secretary, editor)