Pavlo Kostiuk is a well-known figure among representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in New York. The man has been living in the USA for many years, where he successfully works in the field of economic and financial management. However, the year of the full-scale war in the Motherland irreversibly changed many things in his life.
In May 2022, Pavlo Kostiuk founded the Ukrainian Reconstruction Fund, in which he invests all his time and resources. In our conversation, the chair of the Fund recalled how the first days after the invasion were for him, and when the idea to engage in charity arose.
– Let’s talk about your thoughts ahead of February 24, 2022. There was a lot of talk at the time about a possible attack, but could you have imagined that Russia would go so far in its treachery and brutality?
– I will say this, in my family, there was a peculiar attitude toward Russians. At home, I was forbidden to speak Russian, and there were reasons for that. My grandfather and great-grandfather went through Solovki, so my father always reminded me that nothing good should be expected from the Soviets.
Modern Russia is a distorted reincarnation of the USSR. It is unlikely that democratic values will ever take root in that part of the land. Actually, the Russians have already proven this in Transnistria, Chechnya, Abkhazia, and in 2014 in Ukraine.
However, of course, hope for humanity remained. Even in Ukraine, many did not imagine that putin would dare to commit such atrocities. After all, we are all Christians, we believe in one God and his commandments…
Unfortunately, the people shot on the streets of Bucha and the theater in Mariupol destroyed along with the children dispelled any hope in the first weeks of the full-scale war.
– Now, can you remember how you felt on February 24 and the following days?
– On the first day, it was a whirlwind of emotions. Shock, despair, confusion. Pride for our brave people, and, at the same time, longing for the innocently killed. I remember that I wanted to cry bitterly, to give free rein to my emotions, but my anger held me back.
I found comfort in the church. I visit the temple often enough to calm my soul. I was also there in those days. Prayer helped calm the chaos in thoughts and direct them to something constructive.
– Was it then that you decided to create a charity fund?
– Yes. It couldn’t be otherwise, that’s the character. Whenever the brain finds itself in a situation of uncertainty, I find a way out of many options in the active action. Accepting and watching silently is not about me.
I thought: «Yes, I can’t fight on the battlefield, but I have other weapons: my experience, my connections in the USA and Ukraine. I can be useful».
By founding the Ukrainian Reconstruction Fund, I expressed my inner manifesto. Many supporters have already signed it – these are our friends, partners, and like-minded people around the world.
– A year of the active phase of the war has passed. Has your understanding of the fund’s mission changed during this time?
– Undoubtedly. The fund started operations in May 2022, and at first, we were just collecting information and building a strategy. At the same time, we collected humanitarian aid in the form of foodstuff, clothes, medicines, and building materials. Which we do not stop until now. But now I can say that our mission is more significant.
In the summer, the Fund signed more than 10 memoranda of cooperation with the communities of Ukrainian cities and formulated several programs, in particular, for the restoration of social and housing facilities, demining of territories, and provision of qualified psychological assistance to war victims. We also have programs for the economic support of entrepreneurs.
These programs include ready-made projects with a total investment of one billion dollars.
Bringing this money to Ukraine and spending it effectively is currently a challenge for the Fund and me personally. We have come a long way in these months, and at this stage, I am absolutely sure that the result of my work will be the bricks from which the post-war formation of the country will be built.
– You are saying about the efficiency of investments. What does this mean in your understanding? What result do you expect?
– To act efficiently means to act in such a way that it suits all participants in the process. Without risks for the investor, without bureaucratic obstacles, and with an understanding of modern approaches to construction and other sectors of the economy.
Ukraine should remain the biggest winner!