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War-torn Ukrainian toymaker back in business

#Wartorn #Ukrainian #toymaker #business

At the toy manufacturer where Robert Milayev works, fragrant wood shavings are stored again after production restarted after the withdrawal of the Russian troops.

Thanks to donations, the factory outside of Kyiv is making wooden toys again after a three-month hiatus that began when battles with the Moscow army damaged the factory.

“When the power came back and the machine sounds came back, we were crazy with joy,” says chief engineer Milayev.

Like the rest of the village of Gorenka, the Ugears factory still bears the scars of the Russian invasion. Windows in the factory are still being replaced.

On May 18, after the withdrawal of the Russian troops, the employees put on overalls again and since then the production of laser-cut models made of birch, alder and poplar has been in full swing.

“Before the war, the wood came from Belarus, but now we buy it mainly from Ukraine,” says CEO Oleksiy Lysianyi, referring to his country’s northern neighbor, which hosts Russian forces.

According to the International Labor Organization, nearly five million jobs have been lost in Ukraine since Russia attacked on February 24. Lysianyi has managed to keep all of its employees.

Around €800,000 raised by a charity has enabled the company to move forward despite a slump in sales.

No employees were injured as fighting raged around the factory and Russian forces were still trying to advance towards Kyiv. Storage units in a separate place occupied by Russian troops were lost.

Now every online purchase on the company’s website comes with a €5 donation to the war effort. Customers in 85 countries on five continents have already donated.

– toys for adults –

“When we say we ship to China, people are surprised because we usually shop there,” says Lysianyi.

The Ukrainian flag is plastered everywhere, on the factory roof, on the walls.

Packaging line manager Iryna Denysyuk, 33, says she is “very proud” to continue the work during the war.

The hundreds of game and puzzle models made in Gorenka are not even intended for children. These toys are for adults, people over 14 years old.

“Nevertheless, I’m testing them with my kids. It helps us have some family time at a time when a lot of young people are glued to their cell phones,” Lyssiany says of the noise of the construction work.

Before the war, over 100,000 units rolled off the production line every month.

“It takes 10 minutes to build the simplest, but at least 12 hours to build the 450-car train,” Lysianyi told AFP.

They are designed to be assembled without glue and the packaging reflects the complex computer designs of the puzzles.

As the war economy demands, nothing is wasted. Waste wood from the laser-cut panels is given to a company that uses it as fuel.

The cutouts are carefully checked for quality. Milayev says he’s dreaming up new designs to distract busy minds in his country.

Social Tags:
#Wartorn #Ukrainian #toymaker #business

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