In November, 2014, Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada, Toronto Branch, hosted a presentation by Ania Jacyniak after her trip to visit the Ukrainian troops.
Being a part of the EuroMaidan Canada committee, Ania has been in constant contact with people in Ukraine from the beginning of EuroMaidan up until now with the ATO (Anti Terrorist Operation) continuing in the Donbas. However, she did not travel to the Donbas as an official representative of any organization and she personally funded the 10-day trip.
The goal of the trip was to deliver medical supplies, pictures, letters and messages of support for soldiers from Ukrainian schools in Canada. Among some of the items she was able to deliver were 12 GPS Garmin Navigators, which Ania purchased as part of a personal fundraiser she created via social media. Other items included: two packages of various medical supplies from Health Partners International of Canada, hand warmers, celox, halo seals, etc. The supplies were distributed to volunteers EuroMaidan Canada has been working with. The soldiers Ania personally has been volunteering to help are part of the 24th Iron Division (24ID). During the trip, she was also able to meet with people from Vostok SOS, Aidar Battalion and the National Guard of Ukraine.
While in Ukraine, Ania meet two women who are currently fighting on the front lines. She said that “it was truly amazing to talk to them about their experiences as many of the soldiers fighting in the east are the same age as me or many years younger. They were very thankful to receive a GPS Navigator and very touched by the letters of support from Ukrainian children living in Canada.” Ania also “had the privilege to meet with Michajlo Hawrlyliuk. He is well known from EuroMaidan, as he was the man stripped naked in the middle of winter and beaten by the Berkut in the streets of Kyiv. He was very pleasant and interested why someone from Canada would care so much and want to come to Ukraine at a time like this.”
Within the trip, Ania travelled to the Luhansk Oblast, a city called Starobilsk. She visited an area about 50 km north of Luhansk, where there is currently heavy fighting going on. The area she visited had seen fighting about a month prior to her visit. She was able to see a destroyed tank as well as many destroyed roads and buildings.
Despite the tense situation in the area, Ania said she was never too concerned for her safety. She said that her friends from Kyiv make these same trips every other week, so she trusted them although she was well aware that there is always the possibility that something could happen. The determination to visit the soldiers she had been helping for so many months was the true motivation for her.
Some of the most memorable moments of the trip included spending time with the soldiers of the 24th Iron Division. They were continuously thanking Ania for the supplies, the letters, t-shirts with the 24ID logo. But mostly they were just thankful that someone cares enough to come visit them from a country as far away as Canada, especially a girl! Another great memory for Ania is the day after visiting the soldiers, when she got back to Kyiv. They sent her a photo, where they are wearing their new t-shirts and behind them the banner of messages of support Ania brought from Canada.