Ordinary Ukrainians do their bit to support the war effort, Latest World News - The New Paper

Ordinary Ukrainians do their bit to support the war effort

MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE (AFP) - The courtyard of the psychiatric hospital in Ukraine's Mykolaiv reverberates with the sound of broken glass being swept up by staff and volunteers.

Every day, residents in the southern city clean up the debris from the latest bombardment by the Russian army and prepare for the next.

Using whatever resources they can lay their hands on, they are just some of those trying to do their bit to support the Ukrainian forces who have so far frustrated the Russian push towards Odessa, Ukraine's major port on the Black Sea.

Nurse Svetlana Muraska, her eyes red from crying, weeps anew as she sees the crater that has appeared in front of the women's detoxification centre at the hospital. The centre's facade has also been blown away in the blast.

But despite the damage, the strike caused no casualties, says Mr Oleg Kondratenko, a manager at the facility.

"The patients of the psychiatric hospital are in other buildings that were not hit," he says.

In the main courtyard, staff and a handful of young volunteers are working to clear away the most visible traces of the bombardment, sweeping and picking up the shattered glass.

"Faced with the Russian aggression, we have to participate in some way," says one young volunteer in a black beanie and down jacket.

"I want to join the territorial defence corps, but they don't have enough weapons for everyone, so for now I'm helping out like this," he adds.

"We have to clean everything because they can bomb again and if there is still broken glass lying around it will be even more dangerous."

"Yesterday we cleaned a warehouse and protected the windows with tape," he adds.

"I'm a handyman, I need to do something and I'm more useful here," he says, before the hospital manager interrupts him and prevents him from giving his name or saying more for security reasons.

Mr Oleg Yarshenko, a road maintenance worker in peacetime, and his wife Lilia drive round the area in a brown van, asking those manning security checkpoints what they need and, if possible, supplying it.

He can offer them "firewood, cigarettes and food", but also medicines and sleeping bags, says the 54-year-old, sporting a straggly beard and walking with a cane.

The company he works for also has lorries ferrying supplies to surrounding villages whose access roads have been destroyed, says Mr Yarshenko, whose children fled to Bulgaria a few days ago.

"You have to be totally mentally deranged to start a war in the 21st century," he says of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the car park of a supermarket, one of the city's remaining businesses, Mr Nikolai Oskchik, a 69-year-old widower, is also making his modest contribution to the war effort.

With the help of a deaf-mute friend, he spreads out a jumble of bric-a-brac - hoover parts, kitchen accessories and other utensils - on the bonnet of his blue Moskvitch car, a 37-year-old Soviet antique.

He says he gives his wares to the military, or sells them to troops "at half price" to buy himself medicine.

"I'm too old to fight," sighs Mr Oskchik, the father of a military nurse. "But at least I can do this for them."