- Title: UKRAINE-CRISIS/UNDERWEAR Women volunteer to sew underwear for Ukrainian soldiers
- Date: 20th August 2015
- Summary: PICTURES OF UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS IN UNDERPANTS
- Embargoed: 4th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAA935GFYW6XZS6GKSL5ZNUP4XG
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: With their country in crisis, Ukrainian women are volunteering to support troops fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east, contributing manual labour to ensure the army is well-equipped -- with underwear.
The defence ministry needs to test a news type of underwear for a year before approving it for use, according to a speech made by President Petro Poroshenko last month.
Faced with such a delay, several women from Kiev decided to create the "Military Seamstresses" volunteer initiative almost a year ago. They started knitting warm socks for the army, but when severe winter ended, they switched to sewing underwear.
The seamstresses meet weekly in a hall of Kiev military hospital. They joined forces with volunteers who bring their creations to the east where Ukrainian soldiers are battling pro-Russian separatists.
"They are not just receiving underpants from girls, it is an expression of respect to boys who are defending our country now. It is a part that girls are sending to boys, and on the front line they know that they are always remembered and known," volunteer Serhiy Satsyuk, who will bring almost hundred pants to soldiers who serve in the hottest spots in eastern Ukraine, said.
Like the soldiers' commitment to defending the country, the ladies commit their own time and knowledge putting care into every stitch they sew.
"Boys, these underpants for you are as talismans, as amulets from evil enemy's bullet because part of our soul, part of our heart is in every pair of underpants. And we do everything we can even if it is some partial help," 49-year-old volunteer Viktoria Rudkovska from Kiev said.
During their weekly sessions, women split into groups. Some cut pieces of fabric using a large paper pattern. Others take pre-cut pieces home and sew them together, using their own sewing machines. Another group puts elastic waistbands into the underpants and staple labels on with the size.
To make sure military members have the best underwear, some volunteers even go so far as to take money out of their own pockets and old fabric out of their wardrobes to aid the initiative. Money and fabric are also donated by ordinary people. Some Ukrainian factories help volunteers with materials, donating yards of colourful fabric.
"We were sent three rolls of such fabric. Boys are simply excited. All of them ask for such underpants. They wear them as shorts, summer is very hot now. They wear them as shorts and ask to sew such underpants. Unfortunately, we have no more such fabric," author of the Military Seamstresses volunteer initiative, Oleksandra Perova, said.
Perova said they aim to make underwear that fit soldiers perfectly and look great as well. So at some point seamstresses decided to put an end to boring underwear.
"At the beginning, we were a bit conservative and we thought it is underwear and boys may be shy to wear something which is, so to say, non-traditional. But then we received comments from there, from the front line, boys - on the contrary - started ordering funny, more funny underpants. And we realised that it is not simply everyday thing, it is a drive that cheers them up," Perova added.
Pensioner Zhanna Shnurenko, who joined the initiative from the very beginning, said if it's possible to make the life of soldiers easier, then that's what she will continue to do.
"I have a son who is not drafted at the moment. Not everyone is drafted this time. I believe that if my child stays at home, then I must help a child who does not stay at home, who stays there (on front line). I can work till 4-5 a.m. because I believe it is more difficult for them there," Shnurenko said.
In order to collect money, military seamstresses presented their production at a charitable fair. Many visitors were enthusiastic about the joint initiative and its jazzy results.
"It is fantastic. I like it, I have never seen Ukrainian decoration on sports shorts. On the other hand, you understand who you are and where you are from," one tourist from Maiami, Oleksandr, said while looking for shorts for his son.
"The idea is superb, the underpants are cool. I would wear it with pleasure. It is interesting, well done girls. They are busy with something, it is very good," fair visitor Yevhen, whose family fled eastern city of Luhansk and whose wife sews underpants, said.
Since the initiative began, volunteers say they have made over 5,000 pairs of underpants.
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