The two-thousandth news article was published this week on our website, and that is apart from reports and vacancies! We decided to celebrate this event and, taking a look back, see how it all started and how our activities developed during the past five years while analyzing the content of our news.

Vostok-SOS was founded in early May of 2014 as a civil society initiative to help the population affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Among the founders were activists from Luhansk Human Rights Center “Postup”, Crimean Human Rights Center “Diya” and the Civil Society Sector of Luhansk Euromaidan.

Our website started operating almost at the same time. The most important task then was to inform the Ukrainian society about what was really happening in the eastern part of the country. Therefore, we regularly prepared chronological reports of the incidents in Luhansk and in the region.

We were one of the first volunteer initiatives where activists started to assist victims of the military aggression in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea. We assisted in the search for housing for temporary displaced persons, in the logistics of safe evacuation from the conflict zone, in the search for, release and rehabilitation of victims of abduction, while collecting and distributing humanitarian aid for displaced persons in Kyiv and delivering humanitarian goods to the frontline settlements.

On May 8th, 2014, the hotline “Luhansk-SOS” started operating. That was also the initial name of the initiative.

On the 12th of May, we decided to widen the geographic scope of our activities to include Donetsk region. That is how we came up with our new name: Vostok-SOS – assistance to the residents of eastern Ukraine.

At the same time our first fundamental activity was launched: Assistance to activists and to people who left the war zone and who searched for housing. It should be mentioned that among these activists were members of the ever-growing team of Vostok-SOS.

The first full-fledged office of “Vostok-SOS”. Kyiv, 2014

Then, together with the Euromaidan-SOS team we started gathering information about victims and activists of the eastern region. We looked for contacts of activists and residents who had been held captive or who had been subjected to violence for pro-Ukrainian views as well as contacts of family members of those killed to provide psychological, medical, and rehabilitation support.

On the 28th of May, we opened an entire informational area of focus – we launched the information portal, now Thanks to the website, we rapidly collected and distributed reliable information about the events in the east. When the Ukrainian mass media had virtually left the scene, and the Russian mass media carried out massive anti-Ukrainian propaganda, the objective coverage of the events was only possible thanks to independent initiative groups like ours.

The work of the Kyiv, 2014

In the beginning of fall 2015, our fully-fledged office in Severodonetsk started operating. Several activities and events were held here for the displaced persons and local residents. The Psychological Club, the Child Psychology and development Club “Ukhtyshka” were among our first activities which were complemented with the “Family Club” events and new relevant masterclasses and workshops for children and adults.

Classes of “Ukhtyshka” Club. Severodonetsk, 2016

Approximately during the same time, the hub “House of Free People” was created in collaboration with partner organizations CrimeaSOS, Free People’s Center for Employment, and New Donbass.

Event in the hub “House of Free People”. Kyiv, 2015

We assisted people in looking for housing, jobs, furniture, clothes, useful information etc. and we provided legal and psychological support. We conducted vocational training and competence development courses as well as educational and entertainment events for children.

At the same time, our mobile team of the Liberated Cities carried out monthly humanitarian aid trips along the frontline, distributing food and hygiene kits, medical supplies and equipment, books, clothing, household essentials, computers and many private donations.

Humanitarian aid on the frontline. Luhansk region, 2017

Thousands of copies of the newspaper “Informator” were distributed to residents of the “gray zone” and frontline settlements.

Since 2016, we have increased the number of educational activities. These include trainings, workshops, film screenings, outdoors educational activities for schools, activists and volunteers, IDPs, local residents, and government officials with the participation of Ukrainian and foreign experts.

Training at a school. Luhansk region, 2018

Today, our website Vostok-SOS continues to highlight our activities as well as the humanitarian situation in the frontline areas of Donbass region. We continue to monitor structures of law enforcement and local Government, and everyday life on the territory of the Joint Forces Operation. We also keep on supporting local residents and displaced persons with legal, psychological and humanitarian assistance; conducting educational activities and advocating to resolve current challenges on a local and national level.

Working in the framework of the international monitoring mission. Donetsk region, 2019

Vostok-SOS – helping together!