“All help is welcome, especially medicines, diapers and food”

For several days, the movement of people in the Kozak store – Calle José García Sánchez, 7-in the Zaragoza neighborhood of Las Delicias, has been incessant. East small international food establishment run by Yuri Isayev and Natalia Liudmyla, both Ukrainians from Kherson, is one of the main collection points for material to send to your home country with which the Ukrainian Association of Residents in Aragon since last Friday.

At the bottom of the store there is no room for a pin. Bags with biscuits and biscuits, non-perishable food, medicines, diapers, wipes… The arrival of altruistically donated bags is constant. There are even those who, once the first part of the material has been delivered and after speaking with Yuri or with his daughter, Olesia (25), return with more things.

Many are neighbors from the neighborhood who come in to ask how they can help, like Carlos and Elena. “We searched on the internet how we could contribute something and I saw that there were several stores in Zaragoza so we have come to inform ourselves”, he explains. A doctor by profession, he has prepared a list of medical supplies that he can lend a hand with. “They have told us that we can bring food that does not require cooking, to open and eat; medications, gauze Let’s see what we can do,” she explains.

Also Eva, who has brought things for the Ukrainian children. “I am very concerned about the situation they are experiencing. We have to collaborate as much as we can, ”she assures. Merche and Emilia have received an email from a young Ukrainian woman who works in her company. “What do you need more?” They ask, interested. “We need food, thermal blankets, medicine and diapers. Any help is welcome”they answer from the other side of the counter.

As well there are many Ukrainian citizens who come to the premises. Since the 24th they have lived with deep pain what is happening in their country, a pain that can be seen in their faces. When Svitlana Berlus arrives and hugs the owner of the premises, both break into tears. Svitlana tells him that several members of her family have been killed. “My cousin, her husband, and their 6-month-old baby. They have been killed,” she explains, disconsolate. Born in Kiev, she arrived in Zaragoza 20 years ago. Today she lives with horror what is happening in her hometown: “They are killing civilians. There is no right”.

“We are collecting humanitarian aid for civilians, but also for the military who are protecting our country,” says Yuri. Since last Friday, February 25, hundreds of Ukrainian volunteers have gotten down to work to “do everything we can do.” “They have sent us lists with essential products. We have already sent two vans loaded with material that should arrive today at the border with Poland”, he relates.

Many transport and storage companies have contacted them to provide them with infrastructure, ships with enough space to store the material and trucks to make this shipment.

The idea is not to stop sending material. “I have not stopped answering calls all day, the response from people is impressive,” he says, excited. Like each of the Ukrainians who enter his store, Yuri, 46, also has his family and friends there. “I am very worried about our parents, siblings and nephews. My sister has been in the Kiev metro since the 24th, with many more families. My nephew has turned 16 in there, ”he summarizes, dismayed.

José Ferrández, with material collected in his store in Tak Tak (Shoes), in María Lostal
José Ferrández, with material collected in his store in Tak Tak (Shoes), in María Lostal

The response of the Aragonese, spectacular

It is one of the premises of the Ukrainian Association of Residents in Aragon. On their Facebook page they have posted a list of essential materials. In addition to Kozak, there are collection points at 22 Reino Street; at the Algo Más store; and on Calle Roger de Flor, 1, where the premises of the Xinglar Association are located. Another of the collaborating stores is Tak Tak (Shoes), in María Lostal corner with Camino de las Torres. José Ferrández and his wife, Natalia Stepanova, from Konotop, in Ukraine, have received dozens of bags with material since Monday. “We got going after participating in the demonstration on Saturday. We left there convinced that we had to do something. People are bringing things non-stop. It is being spectacular”, admits the man from Zaragoza.

José Ferrández and his wife, Natalia Stepanova
José Ferrández and his wife, Natalia Stepanova

In its premises, we find powdered milk for the little ones, porridge and all kinds of preserves: legumes, peas, nuts, chocolate, coffee. “Anything that’s ready to eat,” he notes. All this material will go directly to a warehouse located in the market, assigned by the Government of Aragon, from where the shipments will be centralized. They have also raised more than 2,000 euros, with which they have bought medical supplies that have gone directly to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.

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