Swiss couple delivers generators to Ukraine
“Without electricity you’re paralyzed”
It is bitterly cold in Ukraine and people have to do without electricity and heating after the Russian attacks on the electricity plants. A small Swiss charity is now delivering generators to the border.
“You freeze without electricity. You can’t work, you can’t cook, you can’t wash, you can’t sleep well, you can’t charge your cell phone,” says Kseniia Priewe, co-founder of the association.
Camille KündigEditor Sunday view
No heater. No light. No stove for cooking. Since Putin had their power plants bombed, nine million Ukrainians have had no electricity – and therefore mostly neither heating nor water. This is how winter becomes a weapon of war: At temperatures below zero, people are in danger of freezing to death.
“Without electricity, you’re paralyzed. You freeze. You can’t work, you can’t cook, you can’t wash, you can’t sleep well, you can’t charge your cell phone,” says Kseniia Priewe. She tries to help: In Opfikon ZH, the young Ukrainian stores goods that she collected with her aid organization.
The linguist has lived in Switzerland for six years. Shortly after the outbreak of war, she founded the association ukrainehilfe.ch. With her husband Thorsten, she traveled to a Slovakian community on the border to the war zone, distributed donations of clothes, sorted sleeping pads and received refugees. “Today, people in Ukraine lack electricity to heat. Warm clothes only help up to a point.” Thorsten Priewe, an engineer at a Swiss electricity company, heaves a large box into his van with his colleagues: “What is urgently needed are generators.”
Ten generators in the trunk
This Wednesday, Priewe is leaving for Ukraine. In the trunk he has ten medium-sized generators worth around 8,000 Swiss francs. “One family even donated the money intended for their Christmas presents,” says Kseniia Priewe, touched, and looks up at the sky with tears in her eyes. Her relatives live not far from the Crimea under Russian occupation.
Shortly before Christmas, the federal government sent several trucks with 40 mobile heaters and 40 generators from Bern to the Ukraine. And while the general willingness to donate among the population has been declining for some time, the Swiss from all cantons are maintaining their commitment on a smaller scale. Clubs collect power banks, flashlights, thermos flasks, candles and winter jackets.
Delivery in Poland
“Hau ruck” – and the last generator is in the hold. Minutes later, Priewe turns the ignition key and drives off. Tomorrow he should arrive in the Polish town of Przemysl near the border. There he wants to hand over the cargo to a local aid organization, which will transport the urgently needed equipment to rural areas in Ukraine.
On the way back he will not be alone. “An acquaintance of ours fled to Poland and is coming with us.”