Oksana. Fairy for Internally Displaced Persons

Дата: 23 September 2015 Автор: Mykola Mirnyj
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Oksana, founder of the “Xena Charity Foundation”, mother and young grandmother, resident of Khmelnitsky. 

I made this #choice in the planning stages of my organization. I have decided to work with migrants, but then I didn’t know I would be working with IDPs from another Ukrainian region.

The most baffling question to me is: “Why do you need this?” I respond to that it must be my life mission, when a task like this falls in my lap, I have to do it, that’s it. Very often IDPs call me a #Fairy. They say “Oh, our Fairy came!”

#I’m inspired by the feeling of being needed by other people. Around January or February I was going through a period of stagnation. The situation in the country was very tense, the work stopped and I felt isolated from the society. When I started helping instead of being horrified by the news, I felt better.   

I moved 13 times. It turns out that most of the IDPs, have never left their city or have never even changed their residence. I tell them about my #experience with moving. Every time something would get lost, I tell them, and it’s important not to get attached to material possessions. Material things go away and something else, something new comes. It’s important be able to let go. 

Adult IDPs in Khmelnitsky meet weekly in a club they called “Together”. This club is a #source of self-motivation. They discuss pressing questions – legal issues, questions of social payments and living conditions. Some have strong ideas. For instance, Olena. She is an IDP from Donetsk and is very socially active. She motivates people: “Let’s help the soldiers in the anti-terrorist operation area! Let’s sort the potatoes, clean, pack and ship them!”. 

Yesterday a young woman with a child was saying that they had been living for half a year now with another family. This family has a father, a mother and two children. They have been together for 17 years, but for the past 7 years this family has been falling apart. Now this family is experiencing a “honey moon”, they say that this young family who moved in has strengthened them as family. The young mother concluded for herself: “We must have moved to Khmelnitsky #to save this family that was falling apart”. 

The local population has different levels of motivation towards helping #the Crimean Tatars [ IDPs] and the IDPs from the East. Before the Referendum on March 10 [in Crimea], a group of 70 Tatars arrived in Khmelnitsky. After finding out where they had got registered, I figured out their location and came to learn about their needs – the state of their house affairs, needed groceries, medicine, and things for the children or an old lady, who has already lived through one deportation. I posted those needs in social networks and both friends and strangers responded.

The next wave of #IDPs was from the East. The mood of those who were helping early has changed. They said that everything was clear with Crimea – Crimean Tatars, the native population, were persecuted. But people from the East wanted to live in Russia. “We don’t know who they are and why they are here,” was the sentiment. The energy of those who were helping had waned. Out of those who supported my efforts, only two stayed. 

People don’t give up. Again, they are all so different. Some sit and wait until the government gives them what they are entitled to. Others have an internal drive to sustain themselves in a new place of residence, to find housing and do necessary repairs, to stay there forever. Some were able #view other sides of the situations and integrate into the community, even though it’s foreign and unfamiliar.

The Human Rights Information Centre is continuing a series of articles “My place”. The authors of the articles are Kira Kreyderman and Ulyana Ustinova.

All these stories are presented at the same-name exhibition “My Place”, organized by the Educational Centre “Space of Tolerance” and the Congress of National Communities, supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The exhibition’s design and the photos are made by Dannaya Verstak, some photos were taken from the family archives.

Translation from Ukrainian to English – Mariya Manzhos

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