Conflicts & War

Lviv library swaps books for camouflage nets

Lviv, Ukraine, Mar 27 (EFE).- These days, nobody comes to the municipal library in Lviv to read or look for books. The hushed, studious silence has been replaced by the constant bustle of hundreds of volunteers working hard to produce the hand-made camouflage nets used by Ukrainian troops in the trenches.

Downstairs, volunteers cut fabrics donated by the citizens of Lviv into strips: curtains, tablecloths, sheets, dresses, pants… everything is used, as long as it is in shades of brown and green. Upstairs, surrounded by the great works of Ukrainian literature, another group knots and weaves these shreds of cloth into the holes of fishing nets.

“At first we made even the net mesh by hand, but then we received fishing nets from the Poles,” Viktor Ponomaryov, a retired diplomat, who fled the bombs in Kyiv and found refuge in Lviv, where he has been working as a volunteer since the war began, tells Efe.

A local woman has given him a room free of charge to settle with his wife and daughter until they can return to their home in the capital, where they spent their last days sleeping in the subway to protect themselves from the constant Russian attacks.

Viktor admits to being surprised by just how the Ukrainians have turned to the cause and the solidarity his compatriots have shown. So, just as he received help when he needed it most, he too wants to do his part.

“When I arrived, I saw a very long queue, which resembled those of Soviet times to get butter, bread or milk… but it was to do these volunteer jobs,” says Viktor, who was rejected from enlisting with the army in Kyiv due to his poor eyesight.

Lviv, considered the capital of the west of the country, has become Ukraine’s rearguard at war, where they train civilians for the frontline and prepare military Molotov cocktails and military uniforms.

Located just 80 kilometers from the border with Poland, far from the battlefront, it has also become a refuge for more than 200,000 Ukrainians from the eastern and southern parts of the country, including Natalya Zmiyeska.

Natalya managed to leave Zaporiyia, in the southeast of the country, on an evacuation train to Lviv on March 8. The first thing she did after arriving was to join the library group, where more than a hundred people work in six-hour shifts.

“I left Zaporizhia because I was very afraid, it was very dangerous to stay there. I had no shelter at home and every time the alarms went off I had to go out into the street to look for one, which was very risky,” says the 35-year-old engineer.

Natalya already has experience in making camouflage nets and military uniforms. Her hometown is very close to the frontline in the Donbas, where the Ukrainian Army has been fighting pro-Russian militias in a low-intensity war since 2014.

“The unity that I have seen in this war had never been seen in these 30 years since the country’s independence,” the 35-year-old engineer told Efe.

“It’s a wonderful thing, people help each other, they do their best to resist the enemy,” she added. EFE


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