In 2018, Clifford Jago, the studio created by two anonymous photographers who operate under the pseudonym, travelled to Ukraine to document Clifford Jago & The Sunflower Children; one of several outlandish trips to European cities Clifford has documented over the past few years. While in Kyiv, Clifford met a group of friends who were photographed for the series. Four years later, Clifford has been in touch with these friends again, under extraordinarily different circumstances. When Putin declared war on Ukraine, the friends started a collective called the Kyiv Angels, a local youth group that provide care and supplies for people in Kyiv and surrounding cities. Clifford spoke to members of the Kyiv Angels again recently, who shared their story in their own words.
When the invasion of Ukraine began, the Kyiv Angels made the conscious decision to not “join a grotesque organisation with complex schemes and structures,” the group told Clifford. “We just wanted to organise ourself so we can directly help ordinary people suffering from this war, left alone without savings, medicine and food, mostly the elderly, families with children, people below the poverty line.” While the angels first began helping locals and distributing supplies in Kyiv, they quickly widened their reach. “Most of the victims of the war are in nearby cities,” they explain, “so we also try to coordinate with those who are evacuated, to transfer their supplies and medicine.”
The remit of the Kyiv Angels is broad, as help often looks different for each individual who needs it. At its core, the collective organises drop offs of food, medicine, and supplies to Kyiv locals. But the group also helps people who have evacuated to the west find housing, get support and find temporary work. At first, members of the Angels funded all the help from their own expenses, “until they ran out”, says the group, “so now we are collecting donations and it helps us to continue our work!” The Kyiv Angels accepts donations via Paypal; you can also follow the collective’s diary via Instagram.