Light for heroes – from the spiritually strong!
“When I first started making trench candles, it was quite a challenge: my fingers don’t work properly, so to cut the cardboard, I had to clamp the scissors in a vise and then do the cutting.
Yes, it’s tough – but if I can’t physically assist our troops, I can at least provide some warmth in the trenches.”
When people have big, warm hearts, they yearn to bring warmth to others. Vadim Bazyuk, maneuvering in a wheelchair, tirelessly crafts light and warmth with his heart and hands for the soldiers on the front lines. Up to now, he has produced and dispatched to the front… seven thousand trench candles!
“Throughout the time I’ve been making candles, I’ve used about a ton and a half of paraffin. That’s just the amount I purchased, not to mention what many people have donated and sent… Currently, I have around 200 kilograms (about 440 pounds) of paraffin for my work – but that won’t last long; I’ll process it quickly. Right now, as I’m speaking with you, I’m also pouring candles. I aim to use every spare moment to help!”
We chose not to evacuate due to our trust in the Ukrainian Armed Forces
His life was transformed by a tragic accident 12 years ago, yet his spirit and eagerness to bring light remained undiminished.
“I am from the Ternopil region in Ukraine. I trained as a carpenter, and after my studies, I moved to Kyiv for work. I lived and worked there, and then misfortune struck: I went to swim in a pond, dove in awkwardly, and broke my cervical spine”.
The early years were profoundly challenging – his life divided into a “before” and an “after”, leaving him uncertain about the way forward. In 2013, at a sanatorium in Saky, located in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Vadim encountered Iryna, who also relies on a wheelchair for mobility.
“I realized I had found my soulmate – and a few years later, we got married. I moved to her in the Lviv region of Ukraine. We’ve been a family for seven years now, and three years ago, our daughter Sofiyka was born! She’s our greatest joy!” Vadim shares.
When little Sofia was just a year old, the full-scale war began…
“Despite numerous families choosing evacuation, we made the decision to remain. The reason? Our belief in the Ukrainian Armed Forces!”
Even with the option to leave, they chose to stay and began assisting the military.
“Facing the Moscow forces, our soldiers display remarkable courage, and we were determined to back them in whatever way possible,” he explains.
“Initially, we donated to various funds and volunteers. Then, I stumbled upon an article about trench candles – at that time, a year ago, their popularity was just beginning to surge. I became intrigued; it was a personal challenge – could I make them myself? By chance, I already had some necessary materials: being a keen fisherman, I had amassed a collection of empty corn cans at home. I realized they could be useful. I told my wife – let’s give it a try, and she supported me in this. After my injury, my fingers don’t work, but I’ve always tried to do things on my own – I used to dabble in carpentry, making kitchen boards.”
He distinctly recalls his initial batch of 13 trench candles, handcrafted and dispatched to the front lines, an enduring memory for a lifetime!
Trench candles: warmth for heroes
“Understanding my deep commitment, my family and friends began to assist me. I discovered a cardboard winding machine on social media, and a friend built one for me, making the process much faster! At first, we simply used a kettle to melt the paraffin, and even attempted to heat it in a bucket over an open fire.”
Vadim was overjoyed when volunteers from Dnipro, Ukraine, found out about his trench candle making and sent him a specialized melting furnace. You load paraffin into it, it heats up, melts, and then you just unscrew the tap and pour the wax into jars with cardboard – it’s very convenient, the work really took off with it!
“I make various types of candles – smaller ones that burn for an hour or two, and larger ones that can provide light and warmth for up to eight hours! I approach this task seriously, conducting tests before starting to pour, experimenting to see how long each candle will burn, so now I know exactly.
I transformed our summer kitchen into a workshop, now all the work is bustling there. Every day, I spend four to five hours working with candles, with my family offering help and support. My wife, along with our little daughter, also joins in and helps whenever she finds a free minute. And little Sofia is really a great help, assisting us in everything both at home and in our volunteering efforts. She still doesn’t fully realize how much she has already contributed to our cause.
The boys write to express their gratitude; the candles are proving useful, and I am glad to be able to help in this way!”
However, in snowy conditions, this isn’t possible, so I now rely on either volunteer friends or the staff from Nova Poshta (a Ukrainian postal service) for pickup and delivery.
“I have a TikTok account where I share about my work – I aim to inspire others with my example to help, to make trench candles. Many people write, offer support, and assist with supplies – paraffin is a highly consumable material. People bring paraffin, churches donate wax – churches pass on candle remnants, beekeepers share beeswax – a mix of beeswax with paraffin burns longer and smells pleasant.
I deeply appreciate everyone who offers assistance, makes donations, and places their trust in us. We couldn’t do this without you. I’m glad that through my work, I can somewhat ease the daily life of soldiers on the front line and also contribute to our victory!
Many of our soldiers are now suffering serious injuries, ending up with disabilities. What advice would I give them from my experience? That the guys shouldn’t isolate themselves, not stay confined within four walls at home, but that friends and family should help them adapt. For a person with a disability, the support of friends is incredibly important. It’s very challenging within four walls – I know from my own experience. My personal journey shows that despite my disability, I’ve continued to live a full life, find love, enjoy fatherhood, and now, also assist our defenders!”