September 30, 2023


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To save a life: Refugees make protective vests for Ukraine


A Ukrainian worker sorts newly produced body armor at a leatherwork shop in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 21, 2022. A Czech leatherwork company that makes a wide variety of handmade products — travel bags, wallets and belts — never intended to add personal protective gear that would save lives in a war to its offerings. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed all that. After Russian troops launched their assault, Tlusty & Co. has hired 15 Ukrainian refugees to help it manufacture body armor for Ukraine's volunteer defenders. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

A Ukrainian employee sorts newly created overall body armor at a leatherwork store in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 21, 2022. A Czech leatherwork firm that makes a wide wide range of handmade solutions — vacation baggage, wallets and belts — in no way intended to insert personal protecting equipment that would conserve lives in a war to its offerings. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has improved all that. Soon after Russian troops introduced their assault, Tlusty & Co. has employed 15 Ukrainian refugees to aid it manufacture system armor for Ukraine’s volunteer defenders. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)


A Czech leatherwork business that tends to make a extensive assortment of handmade items — travel bags, messenger totes, wallets and belts — never ever prepared to insert particular protecting gear that would conserve lives in a war to its choices.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has altered that.

Right after Russian troops introduced their assault on Ukraine, Tlusty & Co. employed refugees from Ukraine to assistance the enterprise be part of a producing operation equipping Ukrainian volunteers with entire body armor to encounter the invading troops.

The Prague-dependent organization agreed to a ask for from the Publish Bellum nongovernmental corporation to sign up for a venture to source the defense gear similar to bulletproof vests to Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces. 1000’s of Ukrainian volunteers have joined the troops to resist the Russian invasion.

“We focus in totally distinctive output,” Tlusty & Co. operator Ivan Petruv mentioned. “We ended up struggling with a situation where we had to choose. And simply because we consider ourselves component of a group that wishes to aid in this circumstance as we can, which is only normal when you see the news, we made a decision to say yes.”

To make the new creation happen was a race towards the clock, he claimed. The company essential to get new equipment, new elements and above all, to employ the service of additional staff to be a part of the 20-25 staffers in a country whose unemployment fee of 3.4% reflects a lack of obtainable personnel in a lot of fields.

“What would take months if not months under usual situations, we experienced to remedy in several hours and several days,” he said.

Because the war started, 300,000 refugees who fled Ukraine have arrived in the Czech Republic, generally females with children, so Petruv said they became an obvious put to seem for new hires.

“We revealed an ad at 8 a.m. and at noon we experienced a record of 70 individuals,” Petruv claimed.

Four days later on, the 15 most competent persons started to operate to total the abnormal deal. They sew ballistic plate carriers although other Ukrainians operating for Post Bellum assemble the complete equipment by inserting steel plates into the vests. The NGO funds it all by means of a crowd-funding campaign.

Natalia Bielonosova is a single of the company’s new staff. She came to Prague from her town of Irpin, situated around the Ukrainian funds of Kyiv. with a pal.

“I needed to make the protection gear for Ukraine,” Bielonosova mentioned. “That’s a way for me to assistance my state.”

Her partner, a humanitarian employee, stayed at home and her son serves in the Ukrainian military.

“He has no electric power, gas, heating or heat drinking water but has survived so considerably,” she mentioned of her partner.

Of her son, she says “it’s unpleasant to browse about what’s going on. I’d like a solution to be identified to conclude the preventing.”

With Irpin and a lot of destinations terribly weakened by major Russian shelling, Bielonosova can see her future in Prague, the Czech funds.

“They’ve destroyed metropolitan areas and ruined infrastructure. It would be a incredibly tough life (to go back),” she reported.

The operate she and other Ukrainian refugees have performed has impressed Petruv.

“We’d like them to stay,” he reported. “We’re speaking about hardworking, skillful people today who deserve the task.”

The Czech enterprise has so far created 720 of the protective vests with 400 far more to produce. What occurs following is unclear.

Petruv claimed his company was completely ready to keep on the venture but “we would be delighted to conclusion it as soon as doable, since this isn’t a thing we want to do. We do it only simply because of the existing predicament and a feeling of duty.”

Meanwhile, he is organizing a new task for his Ukrainian workers for the time when peace is restored. It would be goods designed for Czech little ones and their family members.

It’s called “Mothers for moms.”


Follow the AP’s protection of the war at


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