Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv, and Wladimir Klitschko, a few days ago in the Ukrainian capital. Her longtime manager tells watson about the brothers’ fight for their country. Image: www.imago-images.de / imago images
Tatjana Kiel organized the boxing matches of the Klitschko brothers for years, and she still works with Wladimir today. Now the brothers are fighting a very different battle – in defending Ukraine against Russia’s attack. As mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko has an important role here, his younger brother Waldimir organizes help for the local population and campaigns for solidarity worldwide.
And now Tatjana Kiel is by her side.
Instead of phoning organizers or worrying about seats, as she used to, she helps organize “#WeAreAllUkrainians” large-scale aid shipments to Ukraine.
Watson has Tatjana Kiel as part of the “Green Actors Lounge” in Berlin met. in the interview she talks about how the Klitschkos of Germany from the side and how she deals with the enormous psychological stress.
In cooperation with the Klitschko brothers, Tatjana Kiel organizes aid supplies to Ukraine with #WeAreAllUkrainians. picture: Mirko Hannemann
Watson: Tatjana, how does it feel that your longtime business partners, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, are in a war zone?
Tatyana Kiel: I already know danger from sports, boxing is also dangerous. There was always the possibility that something could happen. The difference now is these extremes of a war, the aggression from outside. Ukraine, Vitaly and Vladimir did not start the war, but they know that they are role models for the whole nation, along with Zelenskyy. I think that’s incredibly great and worth supporting. And yes, I went through all the scenarios. For the worst case, there is everything we could and had to consider. We are prepared for something to happen to the two of them. But there are many other Ukrainians who need our help.
How do you feel when you haven’t heard from either of them for a while?
That was extreme in the first two weeks. After that it decreased a bit because we People get used to difficult situations. On the other hand, the attacks around Kyiv have decreased, although there are still some. That means the fear is just different. Now it is more the fear of what is happening in the south or in the east and how many people are dying there. We’re not seeing any pictures right now, so it must be really bad.
Where do the Klitschkos draw their strength from?
It is the solidarity that they get above all from society. Maybe not as politically as they or we would like. But socially and economically it is incredibly impressive what is happening and how the two are perceived for what they do. Of course that gives a lot of power.
What did you talk about in your last phone call with Wladimir?
We talked about an action that we just initiated. The aim is to put together an aid package for young mothers and their premature babies. This is to provide the mothers with everything they need and to allow them to create an environment in which they feel reasonably safe for the first ten days. Solidarity means for me now, just this Women to give them the courage to go on and give them a piece of normality that they are otherwise not allowed to experience in these first days after the birth.
How do you connect with the local people in need? And how do you manage to get things to where they are needed?
First of all we had to find out, to stay with the example of the mothers, what are the things that are needed over there now? We know that from very committed midwives, for example, and then we put these things together. There is almost a moving box full for each mother and child. And there are all the products that are needed for these ten days. Always provided that there are no illnesses or other complications.
Where do you get the supplies from then?
We approached the drugstore chain DM, who immediately agreed to support the campaign with product donations amounting to one million euros. These packages are being packed now and then in two to three weeks they will be brought over by train and distributed, depending on where there is a need. In Ukraine at the moment 10,000 per month children born too early.
Is your organization also trying to evacuate people from the areas?
No, we’re not bringing them from the Ukraine itself, we decided to rectify the situation in Berlin first and foremost. We try to find hotels or accommodation in Germany that can accommodate at least 100 people for a longer period of time. And then we take them straight there to full support.
Has it become easier or more difficult to bring relief supplies to Ukraine?
We keep adjusting our processes and it works until someone bombs the track. And that happens every now and then. But we are extremely agile because we have multiple avenues that we can use.
“If I don’t do it, probably nobody else will be able to do it.”
How did your job as a manager help you organize the delivery of relief supplies?
I’ve always been good at organizing and building partnerships. So I’m a problem solver, I would say. I’m extremely good at rethinking quickly if one plan doesn’t work. I won’t give up that easily.
What about your own mental stress? Where do you get the strength to work so much?
In contrast to normal work, which I’ve been really passionate about, I just see that it’s all around life and death goes. Also: This mouthpiece, which we are currently forming through the direct line to Wladimir Klitschko, has no one else. This means that if I don’t do it, nobody else will probably be able to do it. It would be highly dramatic for me not to be able to help these people. And when you see what you can move, then you do everything you can. In the meantime, however, I am of course also looking for care. Whenever it gets too much for me, I look for an exchange, and I do it professionally.
“The refugees who arrived later urgently need psychological care.”
How did this exchange help you?
Everyone who does something new has to process a lot. But many things are so new that I can’t deal with them alone. I am not above addressing things that are usually frowned upon or unaddressed. Of course I get help and I can only recommend it to everyone else.
Then probably also the Ukrainians who have fled.
Yes, we see that now too. The fugitives, those seeking help who came in the first two or three weeks were not so extremely stressed. Those who arrived later urgently need psychological support because they have been in a war zone for so long and have experienced so much that they can no longer cope on their own. It is good to know that psychological support helps.
How can I support you?
Donations always help. But now it is important above all to show attitude and to keep talking about the war and that what is happening there is not okay.