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Khrystyna Mytsak, a chain of solidarity for Ukraine, from Rennaz to Ternopil

In thirteen years in Switzerland, Khrystyna Mytsak has probably never exchanged with so many strangers as this last month. “My experience, since my arrival as a student in 2009, has taught me that it takes patience to make contacts, to create a network. But since the war broke out, people have shown extraordinary spontaneity and generosity.”

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The 33-year-old Ukrainian’s small apartment in Rennaz in the Aigle district has turned into a donation collection centre. What was initially a cry from the heart, like many private initiatives since the first day of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, has taken on an unexpected dimension. Khrystyna Mytsak found herself at the head of a cord of solidarity that pulses from Ternopil, her home town in the west of the country, to the peaceful Vaudois village where she lives with her husband and two children, Lucas, 18 months, and Nicole, 7 years old.

Solidarity triangle

When the boxes began to overflow from her living room to the stairwell, the concierge of the building entrusted the young woman with a room in an adjoining building. Today, bags of clothes, bedding, boxes of powdered milk, packets of sanitary napkins and other necessities pile up there up to the ceiling.

Read also: Swiss private schools facing the war in Ukraine

Then the municipality of Rennaz gave her a storage space, a few steps from her home. Finally, it was the turn of his employer to relay his call for solidarity. Rennaz Hospital provided a room to collect donations. Khrystyna Mytsak collects medicines, medical equipment, hygiene or food items, and any other goods brought by the staff of the establishment, which has some 2,500 employees. It is located just opposite her office, at the Espace Santé secretariat, where she works at 50%. During her lunch break, she goes back and forth between the collection point and her home, the departure point for the convoys. The last one, a 20-ton truck, left Rennaz on Sunday and is currently on its way to Ukraine.

Faced with mountains of bags and boxes, messages and calls that never stop, the young woman often feels overwhelmed. “I walk around like a zombie, I don’t even watch the news anymore, I just work from morning to night.” She could have given up, telling herself that after all she cannot turn into an NGO overnight. But she feels responsible for causing this flow. “I have to go all the way,” she blurts out in a laugh where joy and worry jostle.

So Khrystyna Mytsak tried to organize the delivery of the boxes herself. Starting with sorting and selecting business, to get rid of the superfluous: “Sometimes people take my collection points for storage. I find myself with, on my arms, objects totally inappropriate to a context of war. Like photo frames, or high heels.”

The aid is also financial. In one month, Khrystyna Mytsak received around 6,000 francs via Twint or on her current account, which were mainly used to pay for petrol for the journeys, and medicines. “What I love about this little chain that I’ve been able to build is that I know the people, I trust them completely, I know where the donations go,” she says.

On site, so as not to overload the humanitarian aid circuits, she got in touch with a childhood friend, Iryna, who works as a pediatrician in a hospital in Ternopil, and receives medicines, articles and medical devices. In return, she sends Khrystyna Mytsak lists detailing urgent needs. “At the moment, what is missing are syringes for diabetics. And adult diapers,” she says.

Other friends, in connection with local NGOs and the army, place an order with him: “They are in contact with several shelters, where people are currently taking refuge. I sent walkie-talkies, military fatigues, stretchers, generators, push-button telephones, and even kettles. Everything except military equipment,” she explains.

A truck every Friday

A driver leaves Rennaz every Friday with a truck full of goods. “There is a strip of neutral territory, where he can unload his cargoes. This is where my Ukrainian contacts take over,” explains the young woman.

Khrystyna Mytsak remembers her arrival in Switzerland in 2009 at the age of 20: “It was difficult, she says. You had to have excellent grades. But above all, have a well-endowed bank account, or a guarantor. I got a student visa with the help of a host family where I had worked as a babysitter. It was exceptional, for a Ukrainian woman. When she attends today the reception of refugees from her country of origin, she struggles to find the words to describe her gratitude. “It’s a miracle,” she concludes.

Profile

2009 Arrival in Switzerland to study.

2014 Birth of his daughter Nicole.

2015 Obtained a master’s degree in communication and language sciences from the University of Lausanne.

2019 Creates a Ukrainian language school for children aged 2 to 7 in Rennaz.

2020 Birth of his son, Lucas.

2022 Launches an appeal for donations at the start of the war in Ukraine.

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