By Marta Masnyi
After seven long, challenging, and cold months, the people of Ukraine finally achieved what they began protesting for – closer ties to Europe and a new president. It all started off on November 21, 2013. After hearing that the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, wanted to suspend preparations for signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukrainians became unsatisfied. To show their disagreement with the chosen decision, people with the help of social networks began to organize themselves in the independence square in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. It started off with one person, and in a couple hours there were thousands. A week after the protests began, riot police were sent to beat students out of the square in the middle of the night. The next morning, tens of thousands of people came out to show their rage of the beating of innocent students and that is when Maidan started.
After the beating of the students, people were determined to stay in the independence square to the very end. There was a new purpose for the protests and that was to find democracy and dignity in Ukraine. Yanukovych did not want to lose his place as leader of a country, so every time he felt weak, he would send in riot police against the peaceful protesters in attempt to disperse them. First, the dispersing was a little more about pushing people around.Sure enough, slowly but surely the police became more violent each time. But the violence was not the only thing that grew, the unity of people had also expanded drastically. People of different cultures, nationalities, languages and religions gathered in the square for one reason. It was something unbelievable, that has never happened before. It was amazing how people organized themselves to work with others. If that had not happened, there would never be a success to this revolution.
Many of the people that came from different cities or countries did not have enough money to live in a hotel so they brought tents and set them up in the middle of the square. Soon, a tent city was in the process of development as millions of people gathered. In this city there were numerous tents, big and small, people, and a stage. Some of the examples of the tents were food and tea tents , health and church tents.
The food and tea tents always had people working in them. Surprisingly, these people came to volunteer from all over the country. The people working in here were mostly women, since the men signed up for battalions to protect their families, and their beloved nation from the riot police and corrupt government. The women gave up their free time to work in a kitchen and serve the people who lived at Maidan.These women made sandwiches, boiled large buckets of soup, and walked around the square with tea and biscuits, to help others stay warm. All sorts of women worked here, rich and poor. In a time of crisis, social status does not matter. One of the women who worked at the food tent is a pageant queen who won Miss Universe. Women who worked day to day jobs sometimes took a day off work and stayed an extra long weekend to help distribute food for everyone who roamed the square. One of my aunts had worked in the food tent many times. She said that it was an interesting job, but exhausting by the end of the day.
The Battalions of men began to start building up when the attacks of the riot police became more violent. Each battalion was built out of one hundred men. These men were aged from 18-70. Everyone who was in the hundreds signed up voluntarily. These men were not trained before hand and no one had any weapons. The fellows who signed up were aware that their life could end today. What kept these men and encouraged them to join was knowing that when this whole fiasco ends they would be the reason the Maidan survived this horrific battle.To make this clear, none of these men were paid. The only gain for them was in the end, when Yanukovych fled the country.
The church tents were man handled by priests, also from all across the country. People could go pray here for peace and to successfully battle against the corruption. The medical tents first started off with a few volunteers who were trained with first aid, but as events escalated to more violence, the number of volunteers increased exponentially. Several doctors from different regions willingly gave up their time to treat people who became sick or were beaten viciously. During the bloodiest week of the fight for democracy, women ran around no-man’s land and tried to save lives of people who were extremely close to dieing.
Soon enough, a new tent was being set up. This tent held the donations that were being collected from all over the country and the world. Some examples of items donated included: warm clothes (coats, shirts, pants, socks, shoes) since it was winter, food for people to not starve, medical supplies (pills, needles, Celox) to treat people, helmets for safety, blow-up mattresses to sleep on, etc. The most helpful factor, other than the amount of people who demonstrated, was money. This money was used to buy material for the battalions to protect themselves from the weapons the riot police used. It was also used to buy treatment that was available in Ukraine for a cheaper price.
The people in the country connected like never before! Everybody did everything they could, even sacrifice themselves in hope of a better future for their beloved nation. People who visited Maidan for the weekends brought many donations. As soon as Ukrainians over the world saw that their country was in desperate need of help, they began to fundraise as much money as possible, to help their brothers and sisters. When this became a world problem, it was remarkable to see people around the entire world begin to support the brave Ukrainians.