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Pavlo Kostyuk: “I am inspired by helping Ukraine”


Recently, the Ukrainian Reconstruction Fund announced the launch of the humanitarian project “World Athletes for Children of Ukraine”. People with reputable names in the world of sports, culture, and volunteerism have already come forward to support it. So we decided that it was the right time to talk to Pavlo Kostyuk, the head of the Foundation, about the current tasks, plans for the future, and the results of the organization’s year and a half of work in Ukraine


Maria Stetsenko

– Pavlo Mykolayovych, tell us about the essence of the project: whose idea was it, and what is it actually about?

– In America, I have good friends among athletes. They are quite famous figures in football, boxing, basketball, and baseball, both among players and coaches.

And once, at a joint event, we raised the topic of how we could help develop children’s sports in Ukraine. Discussions lasted for several months, and as a result, we formulated an effective mechanism for attracting donor subventions.

The peculiarity of the mechanism is that projects will be proposed by our Ukrainian athletes. People who have undergone professional training and won championships in Ukraine. That is, those who know all the problems, as they say, from the inside.

Those with whom our Foundation has already signed memorandums of cooperation and partnership include the famous football player and coach Oleksandr Zavarov, World Judo Champion Georgii Zantaraia, Olympic gold medalist handball player Larysa Zaspa, and wrestler Valerii Andriіtsev.

The charity initiative was also supported by Vitalii Klуchko’s first coach Andrii Chystov and the director of the first Ukrainian thriller, Lubomir Levitski. I hope that we will expand this list of participants further.

Meeting with athletes who supported the URF project

What projects we will implement are still under discussion. The main thing I want to note is that our initiative is not only about building sports schools, training centers, and stadiums. It has a much broader component: we want to give the children of Ukraine faith in the future in their own country. We want to show them that despite the war, they have free opportunities to grow, train and achieve. That dreams can come true.


Pavlo Kostyuk:

“We want to give the children of Ukraine faith in the future in their own country.

We want to show them that, despite the war, they have free opportunities to grow,

to train and reach the top. That dreams can come true.”


– Sport is only one aspect of Ukrainian life. What about the others?

– Of course, we think about everything. The USF has ambassadors in the United States, Ukraine, and several Western European countries. These are people of different ages, genders, professions, with different life experiences. They approach me with interesting initiatives, which we are gradually implementing.

For example, the latest one. Ocean Group, LLC, a company that creates NFT art, is recently entering the market with a collection of basketball cards on the theme of peace in Ukraine. They have prepared a package, part of the sale of which and further royalties will be transferred as donations to our Foundation. By agreement, the funds we receive will be used for the needs of Ukrainian hospitals.

One of the NFT cards created to support peace in Ukraine

There is another idea that we have already announced on the website, but today I want to tell you more about it. This is an educational competition among students and young scientists. We will expect the contestants to come up with concepts for innovative projects to rebuild Ukraine. We will support the best ones financially, as well as provide support in the implementation of concepts and obtaining patents.

But I want to add that we are also turning to traditional formats of fundraising for humanitarian needs. For some categories of benefactors, this is a more understandable approach, and we appreciate everyone’s attention and help.

– What format do you mean?

– Over the past year, the Foundation has already held two charity evenings in support of Ukraine: in New York and Bayonne. These were friendly meetings where we also organized an auction of works by 35 Ukrainian painters and sculptors, invited folk groups and performers to perform, and treated guests to Ukrainian dishes. The funds raised were used to buy humanitarian aid and help a school for children with special needs.

I won’t say that this format yields tangible results. But this is not the philosophy of these evenings for us either. First of all, it is about communication, maintaining ties, new acquaintances, which are very valuable in the work of a charitable organization. That is why we are happy to continue this practice.

URF charity evening in Bayonne

– On the foundation’s website, you can find visualizations of several dozen projects to restore social infrastructure in Ukrainian cities. At what stage of implementation are they now?

– Yes, you are right, we have formed an infrastructure reconstruction package, which we developed last year in cooperation with leading Ukrainian design bureaus. Currently, the total investment required for its implementation is more than $2 billion.

So you can imagine. This is a very large figure even for America. Of course, investors want guarantees that they will come and be able to work safely. But in Ukraine, the process of insuring war risks is just getting off the ground.

Visualization of the reconstruction project of a kindergarten in Irpin

In the West, it has long been established, but it also takes a long time. Our project documentation is currently undergoing an insurance review. I can’t say when it will be completed, because it doesn’t depend on the structures concerned.

Thank goodness that in the meantime we have other things to focus our energy on: the projects I mentioned above and the actual formation of humanitarian cargo.

– What is this cargo and who is it intended for?

– Last year, we started with a small batch. We distributed several thousand food parcels to privileged families in the Bucha district: large families, families who lost their breadwinners in the war, and people who lost their homes as a result of the fighting.

Distribution of food packages in Kyiv region

Now we have switched to larger volumes. A few weeks ago, a shipment left the port of New York that we purchased together with our partners for Ukrainian hospitals.

These are hygiene products, disinfectants, etc. It will go to Kharkiv and Odesa. The bulk of it will go to hospitals, and we will also distribute some of it to people who need it. Together with our partner, the Ukraine in Armor Foundation, we will determine the exact recipients.

Currently, the URF is preparing another shipment, also for medical purposes. These will be specialized beds for hospitals. We will soon send 450 such beds to Ukraine.

Sending humanitarian cargo to Ukraine

– In short, you don’t get bored? You have a lot of work ahead of you.

– Yes, and I hope that there will be even more. I am inspired by helping Ukraine. It gives me a sense that I have not lived in vain during the years when my homeland was in trouble. Although I am far away, I have the strength to support Ukrainians and contribute to their victory.

And the most important thing is that I have people working with me who are experiencing similar emotions. So I am confident that we will succeed.


Pavlo Kostyuk:

I am inspired by helping Ukraine.

It gives me a feeling that I have not lived my years in vain,

 when my homeland was in trouble. Even though I am far away,

I have the strength to support Ukrainians and contribute to their victory.

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