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‘At the beginning of the war we were phoned by our Israeli partners: ‘We have 400 tons of humanitarian aid. Are you able to receive it?’ We looked at each other. Are you kidding?’, - says the volunteer and the director of NGO ’Great Idea’ Luydmyla Zubareva.

At that time she, a young leader, did not even think that so soon humanitarian cargoes from all over the world would be sent to her hometown of  Kovel in the Volyn’ region and the team of NGO ‘Great Idea‘ would create an international logistics center to deliver aid to the civilians, medical workers and military personnel in all the corners of the country.

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‘We decided to call it ‘MARLOG’, - Luydmyla Zubareva continues, explaining that this is the name of the large warehouses in Israel, which is considered to be the main provider of humanitarian aid in Kovel nowadays. The story of the ‘MARLOGians ‘ of Kovel begins with the aforementioned call from the public organization of ‘Israeli Friends of Ukraine’.

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On March 4, 2022, 29-year-old Luydmyla, together with colleagues and friends, arranged a room in one of the schools for the volunteer center, where the first shipment was placed. After several months of work, the NGO ‘Great Idea’ received a grant from ISAR Ednannia funded by USAID. This strengthened the volunteer team, which previously worked on a voluntary basis.

‘When we realized that this is a national level and that we will be able to help many people, we started to unite and get it going’ - Lyudmila shares. – ‘MARLOG’ was the result of a quick reorientation of our organization to the challenges of the war and successful collaboration of the community, authorities and foreign sponsors,’ - the leader says.

Before the full-scale invasion, NGO ‘Great Idea’ was nearly the only public organization in Kovel with experience of cooperation with sponsors. The team took care of legal employment of Ukrainians abroad and informal education of the youth. In particular, it was done through foreign youth exchanges, creation of the youth center ‘City of Ideas’ with assistance from the Kovel government and USAID.

Today, the main work of the ‘Great Idea’ is ‘MARLOG’ - an international volunteer logistics center that has already grown to several warehouses and cooperation with organizations and diasporas of more than a dozen countries. In addition to Israel, the USA, Canada, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Romania, and Italy also send aid here. The received humanitarian aid is checked, sorted, and sent to field hospitals, hospitals, geriatric boarding houses, orphanages, and 146 different charitable foundations.

‘Starting from the first days of the war, we built a logistics chain and volunteer team structure: coordinators and packers are assigned to each direction, there are application processing managers, fundraisers, and controllers who monitor and report on delivery to recipients,’-  Ludmila explains, adding that all applications from aid providers are also carefully checked, including even the Security Service check.

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The vast majority of ‘MARLOGians ‘ are young people and immigrants who have the opportunity to work in the center, thanks to the support of USAID and ISAR Ednannia. Doctors and foreign students are actively involved in the work as volunteers. There are so many applications that the warehouses work in shifts until night.

Since the start of the project, ‘MARLOG’ has already dealt with more than 550 tons of humanitarian aid, which it delivered to more than 165 thousand people. Mainly, this is the equipment for hospitals and military hospitals for the rescue of seriously injured defenders, products, clothing, and hygiene products for displaced persons and the population of the liberated territories. Just during our conversation, volunteers were collecting humanitarian kits in the de-occupied villages of the Kharkiv region, where people lived for months without electricity, gas, and bread...

A serious challenge for the center's team today is the cost of delivering goods from abroad and their further transportation within Ukraine. In order to manage this, the team constantly fundraises and plans to attract the help of experts, and moreover, it actively partners with organizations involved in logistics. Observing the resilience of the ‘MARLOGians ‘ , you believe in the power of unity and humanity.

‘Yes, every day it becomes more and more difficult,’-  Lyudmila says smiling, -  ‘But personally, I am motivated by daily calls from our defenders.’ When I think about all the challenges they face, I understand how important our support here is!’ - the volunteer sums up.

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