RTL Today – Food, medicine and clothing: Postmen deliver the goods on Ukraine’s home front

War is raging in Ukraine, but postmasters in the western city of Lviv promise to continue delivering deliveries.

Packages can be buffeted on pockmarked roads by shell blasts, delayed at sandbag checkpoints and held static during nighttime curfews punctured by air raid sirens.

But Volodymyr Shved and Anatoliy Goretsky – who run courier company Nova Poshta in Lviv – insist the packages will arrive at their destination.

“The only places we don’t work are where the bombs are falling, when they are falling,” said 39-year-old Shved.

“When the alarms go off, we shut down, but when they go silent, we get back to work.”

The war at home

Since Russia invaded Ukraine three weeks ago, the pro-Western country has been on a war footing.

Thousands of soldiers have been mobilized and cities fortified by order of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addresses the nation in military fatigues.

Ukraine’s “home front” has also been transformed, as civilian life pivots to support the war effort and bring aid to refugees fleeing conflict zones.

Lviv, which is located 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the border with Poland, was initially largely spared military strikes by Russian forces.

But the cavernous warehouse of Nova Poshta on the northern outskirts was nonetheless transformed by the demands of war.

The workforce has more than halved. Only 22 work here, most of the others being called up for combat.

The hub once sorted a million packages a day, mostly for online shoppers.

Today, the 100,000 daily parcels are mostly food, medicine and clothing – care parcels criss-crossing conflict-torn Ukraine.

Military pasta and boots

A quick glance at the rusty red freight carts reveals pasta noodles and military boots nestled among nameless cardboard packaging.

Ninety mechanized lines hurl them along a conveyor belt through a gaping red scanner, sorting them for the onward journey.

Shved said the only day this process halted was February 24 – when Russia invaded – as a wave of panic swept through Ukraine.

“Over the next few days, we realized the company was one of the few that could keep people together,” he said. “That’s why we decided to band together.”

Now the mail trucks are guided by a backroom team mapping “safe routes to avoid war”, he explained.

They explain infrastructure hampered by Russian airstrikes and Ukrainian checkpoints manned by nervous recruits.

Nova Poshta used to deliver anywhere in Ukraine within 24 hours. Now it takes between four and six days.

Nevertheless “we are doing our best to deliver each package to its final destination”, promised Shved.

On a wall in the reception, a caricature of Russian President Vladimir Putin is painted on a white board.

Although far from most battles, the fight is clearly on the employees’ minds.

“A lot of our workers are on the front line and a lot are still working here,” said Goretsky, 42, wearing a red puffer jacket.

“It’s also a front line.”

Outgoing help

Shved and Goretsky say parcels are still arriving from the frontline cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv.

But despite their good spirits, some parts of the country are now isolated.

The last shipment from Mariupol arrived a week ago. The strategic port city was hammered by Russian artillery with reports of horrific casualties.

And nationwide, only 25% of Nova Poshta offices are still open for business.

But a second shed behind the private post office is where their work is now concentrated.

About 90% of the freight passing through the facility is now humanitarian aid – collected and sorted at Lviv station for incoming refugees or eastward distribution.

There are towering pallets of noodles from the Lithuanian Red Cross, blood thinning plasters from the French Civil Protection and cans of drinking water stamped with a heart symbol.

Men perched on buggies pushing goods cross the weathered ground, stacking aid crates.

Amid the donation boxes, Andriy Kovalyov, 38, details an assortment of drugs.

After fleeing his home in kyiv, Kovalyov is now volunteering for the Ministry of Health using his pharmaceutical expertise.

“I had a choice between going to the army, which I’m not trained for…or this,” he said, pointing to his makeshift workplace.

“Hope that helps.”

About Oscar L. Smith

Check Also

10 best Black Friday 2022 clothing deals

You can buy early discounts now. Black Friday is the biggest shopping event of …