"Belp Help" - the heart project of Vova&Yulia

The war in Ukraine - it also hits people in Switzerland deep in the heart. This is also the case for Vova Kasilov, Yulia Dreier's dance and life partner with a Ukrainian passport, who has lived in Belp near Bern for six years. Dance sport defines their lives. In 2017 and 2021, they were Swiss Standard Champions together. In the Zurich club DUZ, they are among the driving forces, are involved in the board of directors and are part of the active coaching staff, which also looks after the young talent in particular. This purpose in life has completely faded into the background in the weeks after 24 February. Since Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine with his Russian soldiers, tanks and aircraft, the world order has been thrown out of joint, fear and terror reign, uncertainty dominates.

So Vova fears for the lives of his parents, brother with his family and aunt. They live in Kharkiv, which is one of the first targets of Putin's attacks. "Vova completely folded it up," Yulia recalls, "the powerlessness broke him." Developments in the war zone do not bode well. The first Western relief operations and the Red Cross only reach the west, the east with the major cities of Mariupol and Kharkiv is cut off.

"During this time, a chat developed among dancers, in which Motsi Mabuse and Kristina Moshenka also actively participated - it quickly became clear to all of us that we wanted to actively help," Yulia explains. The aid project that later became known as "Belp Help" was born in Belp. The first goal is to collect as many relief supplies as possible in Switzerland and prepare them for transport to Poland. Many dancers show their solidarity. From Zurich to Valais, blankets, clothes, nappies, sugar, pasta, rice and vacuum-packed food are delivered to Belp. Two lorries that would have gone back to Poland empty can be loaded with 50 pallets of aid from Belp. Thanks to his language and negotiating skills with Polish and Ukrainian authorities, Vova also manages to organise a Ukrainian passenger train from Katowice to Kharkiv, to which freight wagons can be attached for the first time. "We know that our relief supplies have arrived in Kharkiv," Yulia sums up today, not without pride. All the effort put in by many people in Switzerland has paid off.

When this train arrives in Kharkiv, Vova's relatives have already managed to escape. "Belp Help" starts the second project. The house next door to Yulia's parents in Belp has been empty for three years, completely unused. "My father convinced the owner that we should make it available for refugee families," Yulia reports. "Within four days we cleared out the house, cleaned it completely, painted it fresh and refurnished it with collected furniture." It is an emotional moment when Vova is allowed to embrace his family again a few weeks ago and give them a new sense of security. The first few days show that the war experiences - all the threatening images and sounds - have imprinted themselves in the minds of his relatives. "Vova's niece is traumatised, she won't leave her mother's side," Yulia says. Nevertheless, they are now trying to give the children in particular a normal everyday life as quickly as possible, to integrate them in the playgroup and at school. In the meantime, Vova, Yulia and their parents have set up a relief goods store for refugees in Bern in the garage, which is open for two hours a day. Vova's parents and brother run this warehouse, accept aid material from Swiss people, meet other Ukrainians who have fled and are allowed to help themselves. So they too have a meaningful task again for the first few weeks.

"I sleep maybe four to five hours at the moment," Yulia explains of her efforts. But now some normality should return for her and Vova. They have resumed training in Zurich, and at Easter they took part in a WDSF tournament in Chiasso for the first time again. The result still played a subordinate role for Vova&Yulia.   

Support for "Belp Help" - how can I help?

"Belp Help" continues to accept relief goods for Ukrainian families, which are given to refugees free of charge in the garage. In particular, hygiene products, food, kitchen utensils, spring and summer clothes (sizes to be agreed), gym and summer shoes in good condition are in demand.

Before delivery, please contact us by phone or whatsapp - 078 705 33 09 (Yulia).  Thank you very much.

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