Aza, tell me, did you have to change the sphere of activity with the beginning of the war in the East, and how did the forced move to the city of Lutsk affect your work?
“Fate decreed that with the outbreak of war, I returned to the well-known type of activity. In the 2000s, I already knew what the public sector was, because worked in a four-year project to prevent human trafficking. I coordinated the work of 12 specialists to assist women in finding employment and organizing business. Then, I became a coach. At that time, this was a fairly new direction for Ukraine and meant the possibility of gaining invaluable experience and skills. “I returned to this experience with the outbreak of war, because, having become a internally displaced person, I realized that we can solve our problems only by joining our efforts.”
You are the head of the public organization “ Internally displaced persons of Crimea and Donbass”, which was created in 2014. Tell me, when did you manage to start implementing your first projects, and which ones?
“We started implementing the first projects in December 2014. We started with the creation of the Information and Consultation Center for Migrants, where we assisted each other in resolving social issues, finding a job, and organized leisure activities for children. In fact, during this period the rallying of our organization took place, and it as an organization took place. The most striking event of this project was the landing of children of IDPs and Luchans of “Alley of Unity” in the park in Lutsk. Then still, in 2015, no one did this.
As part of this project, we held a series of round tables with different categories of representatives of the local community — executive authorities, business, public and religious organizations. Each round table was devoted to finding ways to solve the problems of malware, we declared our readiness to take a direct part in this. The housing problem was (and continues to be!) The most acute. In 2015, we traveled all over Lutsk, rewrote all the long-term buildings and abandoned houses, so that they could be converted into housing for IDPs. These were our first steps in this direction. With this we turned to the Lutsk City Council, to the governor of Volyn, but were refused. ”
Tell us a little about how you appeared, and what was the office of the all-Ukrainian NGO «Free People Employment Center» in Lutsk?
“A newly created organization is difficult to develop without finance and support. I decided to go to Kiev to this famous organization, which has its branches in different cities of Ukraine, told about my experience in this field and suggested opening a branch on the basis of our organization. This is how the Free People Employment Center appeared in the city of Lutsk. Then, on a volunteer basis, we began serious work on the employment of not only internally displaced persons, but also ATO veterans and local residents of Lutsk. In May 2016 classes on hand-made and copywriting began. In other words, what kind of specialists among the IDPs were found, they were engaged in the training of others, the same IDPs, in this or that sphere. People learned certain skills with which you can earn extra money. In December 2016, the Center took part in the implementation of the project “Employment and Social Adaptation of IDPs and Veterans of the ATO”. We found specialists and organized training courses on website creation and layout, copywriting, photography, hand-made, creating videos for Youtube. In fact, we taught various Internet professions so that people can work remotely. With the support of the regional employment center in the cities of Volyn, we conducted a series of trainings for IDPs and ATO veterans on how to earn money on the Internet. According to the results of the trainings, people knew how to make money through the Internet and, at the same time, not become a victim of scammers. Also, trainings were held on finding a job and creating your own business. Thus, at the end of this project, our public organization became known not only in Lutsk, but also in the region. ”
Tell me, have you ever implemented any volunteer initiatives? If so, which ones?
“Yes, of course. One of these projects was the “Volunteer Incubator”, when a member of our organization trained volunteers for organizations working with ATO veterans. And this project works to this day, I won’t even say how many issues there were in this project. Also, it is worth mentioning the project “Language school: a world without limits”, when children for 6 months studied English and German languages for free. Now, this initiative has its continuation, but already in a paid format.
Aza, tell me, how did you come up with the idea of creating the project “ Holidays with Mom ”, aimed at self-development and relaxation of internally displaced person mothers with young children?
“Families of internally displaced persons, in particular, mothers with young children, did not have the opportunity to heal their children. It is worth noting that the kids were often sick, because the humid climate of Volhynia is significantly different from the climatic conditions of the steppe Donbass. Pupils at least went to health camps, and the kids spent the whole summer in the city with their parents. We searched for resources, wrote grants, but there were no results. We found support at the Volyn diocese of the UOC. For 4 years there is a project «Holidays with Mom». Moms with children, now not only with babies, but also with children under 12 years old, rest on the territory of the health camp «Stezhyna dobra», which we are all incredibly happy about. On vacation, mothers and children attend various master classes and events. ”
“This is a long process that does not give instant results, but we must know and feel our involvement in Ukrainian history, in the Ukrainian people and remember our kinship. Remember that Donbass is not a separate territorial formation, it is Ukraine ”
One of your successful and sensational projects is the project «Ukrainian Donbass: unfamiliar pages» , which was presented in Lisbon as part of the fundamental event of the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities Program. Tell us briefly about him.
“After moving to Lutsk, we realized for ourselves that many residents of Western Ukraine, us internally displaced persons, absolutely do not know. Therefore, they easily believe in myths about a low intellectual level, criminal inclinations and marginalization of the population of Donbass. We decided to change this situation. So this project was born, the purpose of which was to introduce Volyn youth to the cultural life of the pre-war Donbass. To do this, we held various meetings at which we invited people who stood at the origins of the revival of the Ukrainian national cultural movement in the Donbass, students of Donetsk National University.
“Once, at a meeting with local residents, we invited Mikhail Zhilin, the head of the troupe of the Donetsk Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater. It was a surprise for them that two-thirds of the theater’s performances were in Ukrainian, and the hall was always full. Therefore, the myths that they don’t know the Ukrainian language in the Donbass scattered right before our eyes.
As a veteran of the ATO, Mikhail said that 60% of his colleagues were from Donbass, who said with confidence: «We would go to fight for Ukraine, even if the war had begun, in Lviv or in Volyn.» These were such important words that needed to be pronounced in Western Ukraine, because the myth that the inhabitants of Donbass did not fight and did not defend Ukraine was inflated by certain organizations and supported by the local population. Therefore, at such thematic meetings, they discover another Donbass and begin to understand, because we are the same and we have nothing to share.
For two years, you have been implementing the project » Business School for Teens: “The Energy of Change” Tell us how he came into being and was successful?
“Our children go out of school, armed with different knowledge, but have no idea how to make money or do business in Ukraine. The difficult economic situation in the country and the advice of parents orient teenagers to get a professional education abroad, or to go to work and stay to live there. Many young people leave Ukraine. Families of IDP and other vulnerable categories have no additional funds to develop the abilities of their children. I repeatedly heard the thought: “Why should he study? If only he were healthy! Grow up, go to Poland — earn a piece of bread! Because we won’t earn normal money! ” It hurt me very much that children are not oriented towards the achievement of certain life goals, but they are preparing to be cheap labor in other countries.
And, in the end, it “sank into my soul” and I decided to organize a Business School for teenagers. I understood that the lecture format of instruction, in the case of children, as a result, would not yield positive results, therefore I developed my own game program of a playful character. Children were able to understand what skills they needed in order to engage in entrepreneurial activity, and under the guidance of practicing teachers and entrepreneurs, they were able to prepare and defend their own business plan. The education department and the employment service supported us, and young entrepreneurs responded. We had two such projects, each of which was quite successful. For me, the main thing is that the children have learned to realize their dream. ”
In 2018, you took part in the project “Focus Change”. Tell us about your role in this project and its effectiveness?
“The essence of our participation in this project was that we conducted a public examination of the activities of the executive authorities of Volyn regarding the implementation of the Comprehensive State Program for the Support, Social Adaptation and Reintegration of Ukrainian Citizens who moved from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and the areas of the anti-terrorist operation to other regions of Ukraine for the period up to 2017 (2018), aimed at solving the problems of internally displaced persons. We conducted a fairly deep examination, and expected that according to the results of this examination, the proposals we made, according to the law, would be reborn into an action plan. But, as they say, law is law, and actions are actions. Our proposals were studied, at the city and oblast level, executive groups created working groups to create a comprehensive program that would solve various problems of IDPs. But nothing has progressed beyond a few meetings. In Volyn, unfortunately, in addition to the employment service program, there are no programs or parts of local programs that would address the problems of IDPs. ”
Your public organization “Migrants of Crimea and Donbass” has existed for about 5 years, tell me, Aza, are you, as a leader, satisfied with the results of its activities?
“I will say this, I am pleased that the organization is“ live ”- it works. Indeed, a fairly large number of public organizations that were created at the beginning of the war scattered. People simply simply left them, not seeing any sense in their activities, not feeling the support of the state and not having any results of their work. Yes, in 5 years our organization has also become smaller, but those who counted only on humanitarian aid left, first of all. Those who have remained, and are working to this day, understand that in order for the problems to be solved, everyone needs to make a contribution. And we give our time and energy in order to achieve something, to do something to solve our common problems. Indeed, in fact, any public organization is not just a logo and a name. For us, this is, first of all, the people we managed to rally, who communicate, jointly solve problems and spend leisure time, help in difficult times. This, to some extent, replaced the usual circle of friends lost due to the move. People who together survived the terrible period of their lives became mutual support to each other. And it’s worth a lot. ”
“Any public organization is not just a logo and a name. For us, these are, first of all, the people we managed to rally. ”