To Defenders of Freedom

Ukrainian volunteer Natalia Yaroshenko has been helping the Ukrainian military for 10 years

Natalia Yaroshenko is a volunteer from Sumy, a graduate student in ecology, and the founder of a project on the impact of war on the environment in Ukraine. She began volunteering in 2014 during the Revolution of Dignity. After the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, her volunteer team has been purchasing and delivering drones, medical supplies, and other necessary items for Ukrainian soldiers.

Natalia’s story was told by Suspilne media.

Photo: Natalia Yaroshenko / Facebook

Natalia Yaroshenko has been volunteering for ten years. It all started with the Revolution of Dignity in February 2014, followed by Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“Most of the cultural events where I volunteered were related to the military. During these events, we fundraised for thermal imagers, vehicles, and drones (…) Volunteering somehow sustained my mental health at that time and helped create the community I am still a part of today,” says Natalia.

When Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in 2022, Natalia was doing scientific research in Germany. “From the beginning of the full-scale war, I had established contacts and logistical routes already in place. This helped me organize active shipments. The first days of the full-scale war were more about logistical routes,” recalls Natalia.

Nowadays, all the requests Natalia’s volunteer team receives relate to military needs. These requests are usually divided into three categories. The first one is equipment, including reconnaissance drones and strike UAVs. The second category includes medical supplies, such as hemostatic drugs, tourniquets, occlusive dressings, and medications for stabilizing concussions.

“During the winter period, cardio medications and antiviral drugs were added. In the third category, there are personal protection items, such as dry showers, waterproof foot cover to prevent “trench disease”, helmets, gloves, etc. Shovels, sometimes boats, and hygiene items are also in this category,” adds Natalia.

According to the Ukrainian volunteer, her team raised around 700,000 hryvnias (16,7 thousand euros) and up to 4,000 euros in 2023. All the funds were spent on purchasing medical supplies for the military.

As the woman notes, their volunteer assistance primarily goes to the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and Donetsk axis, where active combat operations are currently taking place. Her team collaborates with the public organization “Volunteers of Cherkasy. Coyote Group,” which helps deliver aid to the regions in the East and South of Ukraine.

Photo: Natalia Yaroshenko / Facebook

In 2023, Natalia, along with her team, purchased six different drones. According to the volunteer, almost all of them were converted into strike UAVs. For instance, one of the drones was bought at the expense of gifts from her birthday. “It was a Mavic T3 drone. A powerful machine. I bought it in Germany. As far as I know, it is used as a reconnaissance UAV,” the woman says.

Over the past year, Natalia mainly worked with Ukrainian manufacturers in her volunteer work; it turned out to be cheaper and faster, and, in addition, this way she manages to support Ukrainian production. For example, her volunteer team purchases tourniquets in Ukraine, as well as hemostatic drugs and personal protection items. 

Natalia Yaroshenko is also an active participant in conferences and a speaker at youth events in different European countries, including France, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium.

Having a pedagogical and environmental education, Natalia works with children and youth within her own volunteer project. “We are working together on an environmental lesson for schools so that children can better understand the war and not be left alone with it. Children are our future, and we need to talk to them about the war in ways they can understand,” the woman emphasizes.

Photo: Natalia Yaroshenko / Facebook

In the near future, the Ukrainian volunteer Natalia Yaroshenko plans to realize her fundraising projects more quickly and continue searching for high-quality tactical medicine goods for the Ukrainian army.

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