Nesehnutí has been supporting Ukrainian civil society since 2014. But at the end of February, when the Russian invasion began, the nature of the support changed fundamentally. For the last seven months, Nesehnutí has been providing material aid, helping victims of sexual violence, supporting independent media, and assisting those who are on the run. Members of the organization help day and night. Every day brings a new little story. And sometimes the same happens at night. Here, Nesehnutí member Martin Hyťha describes one such night. Photo credit: Nesehnuti.

Night three: ghosts behind the wheel

I unlock the office doors on Sunday at 10pm. I have a seemingly simple task – to load about 25 crates of medicine and bulletproof vests into Ivan’s van. Or maybe load them for someone else because Ivan doesn’t know if he will have room in the car. Or at least that’s what I understood on the phone when I called him this morning for about the fourth time this weekend.

Ivan mainly speaks Ukrainian on the phone, but I don’t speak Ukrainian and instead speak Russian to him. Plus, he’s always driving, so I usually can’t understand a word he’s saying over the noise of the engine. I wonder if he ever sleeps. Ivan also never knows until the last moment if he will have a seat in the car, when exactly he will arrive, and if he will even go through Brno at all. At the same time, he is always incredibly willing, and he never took even a single hryvnia for transporting aid to Ukraine, even though it would have been completely appropriate.

“Who knows when and who will call,” I think to myself as I lie under the covers on the couch in the office around midnight. I must be fast asleep because when my phone starts ringing at maximum volume, it takes me a while to focus on the Ukrainian language accompanied by the rumble of the van. Ivan won’t come. But he is sending his friend Mikhail, who can fit in all the material aid. Somewhere along the way, they will then hand over at least part of the cargo.

Mikhail calls just before 3am. He’ll be at the office in a quarter of an hour. I jump off the couch and take the boxes out to the street so we can load them as quickly as possible. Mikhail arrives by way of a Ukrainian marshrutka – a microbus, which can usually fit an unlimited number of people and things. His face contorts at first when he sees the pile of crates. After a while, however, he goes around the marshrutka, shoves boxes into it through various holes, and curses in different languages escape through his teeth.

I don’t even know how, but in the end, everything is in the car. But some passengers probably had to bend or crouch properly to fit the packages between them. “Glory to Ukraine!” I say sincerely in mild euphoria from the successful loading of the boxes, and I hope foZačátek formulářer at least a symbolic correction of the embarrassing situation. “Glory to the heroes,” replies Mikhail and quickly leaves.

At 7am, my first colleague wakes me up from my sleep on the couch. I rinse my face with cold water, make coffee and tackle various tasks and emails. Suddenly, a colleague from Lviv writes to me that the boxes with aid have arrived. It’s not even 3pm. How one of these ghosts behind the wheel, who probably never sleeps, managed to get there so fast, will probably remain a mystery to me forever. One of the ghosts behind the wheel who, like dozens of other people, is selflessly helping us to provide vital protection for civil society in Ukraine.

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