The Business Information Technology student remembers February 24, 2022 like it was yesterday. The day Russia invaded his country Ukraine from multiple sides, as a major escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian War that has been raging since 2014. On autopilot, Lysin and some compatriots in Enschede started fundraising campaigns. ‘But it was difficult to keep all those actions organized’, Lysin looks back.
5th National Guard Brigade
In April 2022, he got in touch online with a member of the Ukrainian 5th National Guard Brigade. 'He told me that his brigade urgently needed plate carriers. Together with Max Dryhval, Saxion student, I collected a sum of money for that. Yet we felt we wanted to do more. And we felt our actions were not professional enough.' That causes the birth of the Lotus Foundation early this year. 'The lotus as a symbol of resilience, because the flower grows through mud. Just as resilient as the Ukrainian people.'
The foundation now consists of a dozen international members. Lysin and Dryhval are the driving forces. The Lotus Foundation has three pillars. The first consists of organizing events to raise money for immediate needs in Ukraine. The second pillar focuses on support for citizens in crisis situations. ‘For example, we recently held an action to help people in Kherson after the Kakhovkadam was destroyed by the Russians’, says Lysin.
'Ever since the start of the war, I feel like I'm not doing enough.'
In addition to raising money, the Lotus Foundation is also trying to make a difference on a technical level. How? With a Telegram Bot. ‘We're still in the testing phase, but we built our own bot that helps locate missing Ukrainian soldiers who may be captured. The Russians share a lot of information in Telegram about Ukrainian soldiers held hostage. We are trying to have that data automatically scanned and linked. We hope to deploy the bot soon.’
Lysin is temporarily staying in Espoo, Finland, for an exchange. The time he does not spend on his studies, he puts into the foundation. 'It's a kind of outlet. Ever since the start of the war, I feel like I'm not doing enough. Men in Ukraine picked up the sword to protect our country and I just sit and study. My father tries to keep me calm in that.’
The general mobilization - all conscript men must stay within the borders since the invasion - means that Lysin has not been in his country since the start of the war. After all, that would mean he cannot leave the country. 'That makes the situation tough. Especially the first period. My family lives north of capital Kyiv, near the area taken by the Russians at the beginning.' Lysin saw his mother, sister, grandfather and grandmother twice in the past year and a half, in Poland. 'Emotional days, but also very encouraging to see them again. It confirmed for me that I have to keep doing my thing and that is to help as much as possible. With the foundation, we already raised about 590,000 hryvnas (about 15,500 euros. ed.). We hope to raise much more.’