Sofa from Pisky village: I wanted to cry over such a ‘present’
Ukraine is a multiethnic country. 134 ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples live in Ukraine. The “Ukrainians” of different ethnic origin are likely to be found among your colleagues and friends as well.
Human Rights Information Center launches a new series of articles “Together” about different Ukrainians.
The stories are presented within the framework of the same-name exhibition, organized by the Educational Centre “Space of Tolerance”. Co-organizer Uljana Ustinova says: “The heroes of our exhibition ‘Together’ allowed to look into their lives: to hear their views about themselves and their family, about the things they consider to be important, about finding themselves, the things irritate them and make them be proud of.
The stands of “Together” exhibition show the young people of different nationalities (Armenians, Greeks, Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, Jews, Roma, Russians, Romanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Germans, as well as refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons as social groups) telling about their life in Ukraine. The interviews with young people are complemented with historical information.
The majority of visitors of our exhibitions say they are surprised. The exhibition guides are more moderators than lecturers, they suggest examining the stands, telling own stories.”
What story you could have?
Sofa from Pisky village: I wanted to cry over such a “present”
I lived in a private house and had my own garden. We also had a very high fir tree, higher than our two-storey house. Our family had a tradition to put on and put off the garland permanently. I’m a little bit afraid of height, but I used to climb up there, and when I was already sitting on the top of the fir tree, my dad took away the ladder with a funny face. I remained on the tree with a garland in my hands. Mom loved watching us and switched the garland on as soon as I took it.
Donetsk cultivated my love of the Ukrainian holidays. I always performed on all the holidays. All the performances were a bunch of fun, especially in my team where everything was going not according to a plan. I have a Ukrainian crown of flowers at home, my mother made it herself. It’s all in flowers and ribbons. I put it on just a couple of times. I like to wear it, embroidered Ukrainian shirt and skirt.
…I would have written about Pisky village [Donetsk region]. How it all began. About the airport. How the bombing and shelling began. Many houses in our village were damaged when everything had just begun at the airport as the runway ended directly in the kitchen gardens of some houses. I think I could tell much about it. At first, I could not sleep, they began to fly at night, I got up and watched as they fly and started to watch the TV series not to hear them. It seemed parents did not sleep at all. Then I got used to it, the explosions became a common thing and I quickly fell asleep not paying any attention.
The cats were left in Pisky. When the parents went there last time to take away cats, they came under fire not even having reached Pisky. They got out of the car and hid behind a stop. A shell fell near them and my mom got a splinter in her leg. Mom likes joking about it: “We’ve brought souvenirs.” “What souvenirs?” “A splinter in my leg.” It’s not funny as for me. Parents say that they did not get scared during the shelling, they simply did not know what to do.
The internally displaced persons, the forcibly displaced persons really had to move “forcibly.” This word exactly describes our move, because we left our house not because we wanted to. It’s difficult to move from your native place, everything is left there, you start all over again. Nobody lives in Pisky anymore as everything is mined everywhere. Even if we wanted to live there, we could not.
First, everybody in school asked me about Donetsk, and the first question was: “How it is living there?” And I always want to reply: “What do you think? It is war there. How it could be there?” My class is always joking. For example, I often have quarrels with our class teacher. My classmates support me, but they cannot do without jokes and ask: “Is your habit taken from Donetsk?“
I dream to attend the first aid courses or to go to a drums class in a music school. However, of course, I need a lot of practice and a lot of space in the apartment for drums.
The exhibition was created by A. Lenchovska, K. Kreyderman, A. Voitenko, D. Verstak in cooperation with the Anne Frank House (Netherlands) with the financial support of the MATRA program in 2011. The exhibition was held in 17 cities of Ukraine in 2011-2014.
Photo credit: Dana Verstak, Yana Korobenko