Evacuating people, collecting the necessary equipment for the defenders of Ukraine and supporting those who got in critical circumstances in the war zone. All of this is the work of the Chaplain Battalion “Mariupol”. Their crews travel every day to the "hot spots" to contribute to the victory of Ukraine.

The beginning of a regular working day at one of the warehouses of the chaplain battalion. These guys were organized in the beginning of the war in Donbass region and for about 9 years they have been helping the army and civilians.

“Our main job is supporting the military, but, of course, around 50% of our support we provide to civilians who are staying on the “zero line” of the from line, and living in their basements. We are well known in every village across the “hot” frontline, especially here at the southern frontline. – says the leader of the Chaplain Battalion Gennadiy Mokhnenko.

The battalion was created in Mariupol. After beginning of a full-scale invasion and occupation, they had to leave the city. Currently, several dozen crews work as part of the battalion.

“Most part of the battalion is people from Mariupol, however, there are many guys who have joined us, were helping as volunteers, they do not have a priestly rank, but now they as chaplain assistants they’re are helping at the frontline too,” Gennadiy Mokhnenko added.

Chaplain’s assistant Valeriy says: “This drone, Mavik-3, is the most up-to-date version that our military is currently using, it is so affordable and has a very good camera, and today we will take this drone to Donbass.”

Together with one of the chaplain’s crews, we’re heading to the “gray zone” near Zaporozhye.

“Our job is to support them. To support them mentally, to support them with food and water. We bring honey, presents, food, and diapers,” explained Andrey, the chaplain of the Mariupol Chaplain Battalion.
We are heading to the village of Primorske. It’s located ten kilometers from the frontline. Most of the residents have left the village. Those who stayed here are living under constant shelling. They say lately it’s been so scary to live under airstrikes.

“They fly close to us, shoot and fly away. The air planes fly up, they are very loud when they shoot and when they fly close and fly away,” said Valentin, the resident of Primorske village.

Inna, resident of Primorske, remarked: “Apparently, we create a big threat with our chickens and ducks, otherwise we don’t know what we did wrong.”

63-year-old Olga Anatolyevna lives in the basement with her husband and granddaughter. She says they go out only to receive humanitarian aid.

“It’s hard, it’s hard to live. It banged today, and my heart is already breaking. We take medicine. We hide in the basements, brought beds, pillows and food there,” said Olga Anatolyevna, resident of Primorske.

Despite the danger, many families with children are remaining in the village. Julia, a mother of four, refuses to leave her home.

“Where to go? Over there, a city of Zaporozhye is being shelled. Where? At least we’re home over here, within the walls of my own home. We’re staying here for now, and if it’ll get scary, we’ll go. God forbid that they (russians) don’t come here,” said Yulia, a resident of Primorske.

Evgenia does not want to leave the village either – she has a three-year-old daughter.

“Who cares about us? We stayed in the city with my aunt. It’s still an apartment building. It’s scarier there, if the rocket hit there, the whole entrance will be blocked, if it arrives here – well, there will be no windows, well, the roof will be destroyed, that’s all. Anyways, we’re home here, ” – said a resident of Primorske, Evgenia.

When the electricity and connection is available in the village, children can download study materials to their phones. Fifth grader Valentina says she tries not to miss a single lesson.

“Mathematics, Ukrainian language, foreign literature, Ukrainian literature, nature lessons, physical education. In our village, everyone loves physical education more, and workshop classes, everyone always likes the workshop lessons,” said Valentina, a resident of Primorske.

There are special gifts and food packages from the Chaplain Battalion for local children. Also, food for the local pets, which were abandoned by their owners. The Chaplain Battalion assures that they will continue to help the residents of the “gray zone”. However, they do not get tired of asking people to evacuate to the safe regions. The promise to help quickly with evacuation.