When the conflict broke out, he didn’t think twice about helping Ukrainian refugees. He offered his translation skills to the MUNI HELPS Volunteer Centre, and in his free time he interprets for Ukrainians at the assistance centre in Pavilion B of the Brno Exhibition Centre.
Most of the refugees who have arrived in Brno are mothers with children and elderly people. “We explain to them where they can find accommodations and what the living arrangements will look like there,” says Oleg Deev, whose native tongue is Russian.
He also interprets for Ukrainians looking for work and is always happy whenever a job interview goes well. “Just now an older gentleman managed to get a maintenance job at a polyclinic in Brno, along with a place to live for him, his wife, and the dog they brought with them. They have been here a week already, and because they have a large dog, they were looking for just the right place to live. I also interpreted for a woman who makes orthopaedic aids and also found work for her pretty quickly,” adds Deev.
He is usually so busy with his volunteering that he doesn’t have much time to think about what these refugees have gone through. He does admit, however, that working at the assistance centre can sometimes by psychologically demanding. “Some people cry and just need to talk or confide in someone,” explains Deev, who is also the director of the Institute of Financial Complex Systems at the Faculty of Economics and Administration.
He goes to help at the assistance centre once or twice a week. Between the day it opened and March 17, the centre assisted nearly 16,000 Ukrainian. “Sometimes I take a day off to come here. Other times, I come in the afternoon after work to do an eight-hour shift, which usually ends right before midnight,” he says.
He also shares his opinion about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has caused more than 200,000 Ukrainians to flee to the Czech Republic, before running off to help another person at the visa counter: “The war in Ukraine is senseless, and these refugees need help.”
At the assistance centre, there are different counters for dealing with visas, work, and health insurance. “During one shift, I’ll interpret for hundreds of people. I accompany them to practically all the counters at the centre, and then I help organize them onto the buses that take them to where they are staying,” Deev adds.
He adds that the MUNI HELPS Volunteer Centre, which is currently celebrating its second anniversary, has well-established organizational process and is capable of helping people in any manner of difficult situation. “It is one of the social roles that Masaryk University plays. We are glad to help when we can, not just now but over the long term as well,” emphasizes Deev.
You can still help Ukrainian students and academics by donating money through Masaryk University to support educational and humanitarian efforts. You can make a donation through the MUNI Shopping Centre. You can find out how much money has been collected so far on the MUNI HELPS website.