"Tireless grannies" have become one of the best volunteer organizations in Ukraine

Tireless Grannies
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Tireless Grannies Regions at war 12 Jul 2023 at 07:50

Recently, we received wonderful news that the volunteer group "Tireless grannies" from Poltava won the regional division of the national competition "Charitable Ukraine" in the category of "collective volunteering." So, who are these "Tireless grannies"?

The volunteer group "Tireless grannies" has been operating in Poltava at Library No. 7 for many years. They tirelessly weave nets, make kikimora dolls, rugs, sew panties, knit socks - tirelessly and continuously for years, with the mission of protecting, sheltering, and warming Ukrainian soldiers.

They truly are tireless!

The library is a hive of activity every day, without a day off. Nets are being woven in the corridor, ribbons are being cut on the spot and several frames are being set up in the reading room.

"We have been volunteering since the beginning of the war. We have been weaving nets since 2017, working six days a week. And after the invasion, after the 24th of February, we work every day," says Miroslava Vitaliivna as she shows her workplace. "We can set up 7 frames at the same time, which means 14 nets. Each net can be worked on by 3-4 people at the same time. We never rest".

This volunteer group consists mostly of grandmothers, and 60-year-old volunteers are considered young here. The oldest volunteer is 86 years old. The group includes not only grandmothers but also men and young boys. Everyone finds work: assembling frames, attaching nets, cutting fabric scraps for the nets.

They work as much as they can. Some come for an hour and a half, while others stay for 4-5 hours. But the work is done with enthusiasm because, according to the volunteers, they don't want to sit on benches and wait until we are liberated.

"We want to do something for the boys. We feel sorry for them. They don't spare their lives for us. Can't we spare an hour to help them? And our nets are fantastic! It's not us saying that; it's the military," Miroslava Vitaliivna explains as she shows a large folder where the "tireless" volunteers keep numerous awards and thank-you letters from the military.

What is needed to produce the nets?

The largest net made by the volunteers was 100 square meters, but more commonly, they make nets of 45 square meters. There have also been nets of 25 square meters. While we are talking, a soldier quietly enters and takes the finished net, which careful hands have wrapped with a little "gift from the bunny": tea, a wafer, candies, a prayer card, children's drawing.

"To work on the nets, we need a base, skilled hands, and materials: fishing net and fabric. Currently, volunteers all over the country are working a lot, so the demand for nets is enormous. The need for nets: Fishing nets with a mesh size of 3.5-4 cm."

Fabric for nets

Ribbons for the nets are a separate matter. The "Indefatigable Grannies" have strict requirements for their color: they need khaki, brown, and green colors to make them less visible from drones. The material used is cotton. People often bring fabrics in very bright colors, so the volunteers have decided to dye the fabric themselves. "I want to thank everyone who helps us dye the fabric," says Miroslava Vitaliivna.

"A volunteer from Kyiv sent us already dyed fabric. We were amazed when we received 20 kilograms! Then we asked him again, and he sent us more fabric and even recorded a video on how to dye it. So now we do the dyeing ourselves. But this work needs to be done in a village, outside. You can't dye fabric and hang it to dry in an apartment. That's why women from the villages help us by dyeing the fabric and bringing it to us." 

"Tireless Grannies" will teach everyone!

According to the volunteers, anyone can knit nets. There are no special skills required, and they can teach you everything in a day.

"Some people say they don't have good health and sit outside on a bench. But we have women who are 85-86 years old, and they come every day and cut fabric. They may have problems with their legs or other issues, but they do what they can. And after they work, their spirits are lifted. Even if it's just a small accomplishment, they feel that they haven't spent their time in vain. That's why we invite, wait, and teach," says Nina Danilyvna, who has been volunteering since 2017.

Among the volunteers are people with disabilities who cut ribbons, make trench candles, bake gingerbread, and make soap.

Underwear for the soldiers

The "Tireless Grannies"  have sewn an incredible number of underwear. Skilled seamstresses work on it at home. They request underwear both for hospitals and for soldiers on the front lines.

"Our seamstresses have already made thousands of them, and these products are in high demand, especially in such hot weather. We don't refuse any help. So we ask people to check their fabric supplies. We would be very grateful for fabric donations. Our seamstresses miss having work," say the volunteers.

The underwear is sewn on sewing machines at home. They cut, press, and combine the fabric to save resources.

"Sometimes thoughts come to mind: maybe we don't need these underwear anymore. But then they bring photos showing soldiers wearing camouflage and our underwear. So, if someone needs even a tiny piece of my work, I will continue doing it," says one of the volunteers.

Earnings of the "Tireless Grannies"

Unfortunately, not everything can be produced. Currently, there is a high demand for socks, mosquito creams, and wet wipes. That's why the "Tireless Grannies" earn money by selling embroidered pictures, rag dolls, amulets, and eco-bags at outdoor city events. They remember a day when they earned 2,400 hryvnias. All the proceeds go toward the needs of the soldiers.

"Our library is the most patriotic!"

Weaving nets requires space. That's why the "Tireless Grannies" are very grateful to the staff of Library No. 7, where they have been working for many years.

"Our library has been very patriotic since the beginning of the war! Lyudmyla Oleksandrivna, the head librarian, always provided us with shelter, even when we were weaving nets on a single frame. We have experienced renovations in the library and the COVID-19 pandemic, but we never stopped our activities. Librarians, despite being fewer in number, help us. They come and open the premises for us even on weekends," says Mrs. Miroslava.

"We serve library visitors and, when we have time, we cut fabric," says Olena, a librarian. "We used to work only in the corridor or in the volunteer room, but now we work in the reading hall as well because we have more frames. Other libraries also help us - 2-3 people come from them every day, bringing us pre-cut fabric and collecting funds. We are all one system."

Age is about desire or lack of it

Many people now say that they are old. But I believe it all depends on desire," says Miroslava Vitaliivna.

"We will find work for everyone. We would really like to reach out to children and art schools - bring us drawings, as we lack them to put in the nets. There is work both here and at home. Those women who are not involved in making nets do other things, like drying herbs or knitting rugs from scraps."

"Grannies" are on Facebook!

Perhaps we haven't mentioned all the current needs that the volunteers are dealing with since they are constantly changing. That's why we invite you to join the "Tireless Grannies" group on Facebook. It is managed by Mrs. Miroslava. The group includes information about needs, thanks for help, stories about helpers, and reports on the work done. Join yourself and invite your friends.


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