Discovering Kyiv, Ukriane feat. Music by The Vinogrooves

Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine and it’s a great place to go on holiday if you wish to relax, have an adventure or learn some exciting history.

Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine and it’s a great place to go on holiday if you wish to relax, have an adventure or learn some exciting history. While Kiev is the better known spelling of the city, Kyiv is considered more Ukrainian because it is pronounced with an “i” in Ukrainian as opposed to with an “e” in Russian. Filmed with my GoPro Hero+!

I do not own any rights to the music but I have permission to use Kento’s Revenge by the Vinogrooves:

The Vinogrooves are a Prague-based multinational rock/ blues/ soul project. They play regularly around the Czech Republic, and recently finished a successful UK tour. They write all their own material, and take influence from artists ranging from Led Zeppelin and Queen, to Amy Winehouse and Stevie Wonder. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to speed with their latest shows and projects.




https://www.facebook.com/thevinogrooves

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Being an (Ex) Prague Freedom Foundation Scholar

Four years ago I had the honor of participating in a Journalism Program that Prague Freedom Foundation sponsored. The program brought students from Kent State University and Anglo American University together to study journalism. After winning the Excellence Award for my piece on Abortion Laws in Ohio I went on to receive a grant from PFF to report on the war in Ukraine…

Four years ago I had the honor of participating in a Journalism Program that Prague Freedom Foundation sponsored. The program brought students from Kent State University and Anglo American University together to study journalism. After winning the Excellence Award for my piece on Abortion Laws in Ohio I went on to receive a grant from PFF to report on the war in Ukraine.

After returning from a week of interviewing protestors and veterans participating in Maidan – Ukraine’s revolution against corruption and Russias’s interference in local politics – members of PFF supported my photo exhibition to raise money for the Organization for Aid of Refugees.

My photos of from the heart of Maidan in Kiev, Ukraine helped raise a humble $650 to help Ukrainian refugees living in Prague. Several members from PFF attended, donated to and participated by giving a speech at the event.

Although my career path has shifted from investigative journalism and I am no longer active in any political causes, I am eternally grateful to the Prague Freedom Foundation for giving me the training and tools to make a difference in the world and in my home country.

Here’s a video about Prague Freedom Foundation’s Cause – spoiler alert, I make a brief appearance in between US Ambassadors and Radio Free Europe Journalists.

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48 Hours in Kiev, Ukraine – GoWonder City Guide

Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe and happens to be the 8th most populated city in Europe. Like many formerly communist countries, Ukraine has undergone extreme economic and social changes. Today, Kiev is a bustling cosmopolitan city combining historic architecture, modern cafes and a vibrant nightlife. In other words, it’s the perfect tourist destination!

The following city guide can give you the perfect itinerary for 48 hours in Kiev, Ukraine, one of Europe’s prime travel destinations – okay, I might be biased, but go along with me on this one…

Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe and happens to be the 8th most populated city in Europe. Although Kiev is the better-known spelling of Ukraine’s capital city – patriotic locals prefer “Kyiv” because it reflects the Ukrainian pronunciation. It is also important to know that the countries name is just “Ukraine”. Before it gained sovereignty in 1991 it was called “the Ukraine” as a territory within the USSR.

Like many formerly communist countries, Ukraine has undergone extreme economic and social changes. Today, Kiev is a bustling cosmopolitan city combining historic architecture, modern cafes and a vibrant nightlife. In other words, it’s the perfect tourist destination!

Of course, it can be hard to get an authentic feel of a place in just a day or two. But if you take advantage of the extensive public transportation system you can cover a lot of ground in just 48 hours. Just don’t attempt to visit all the cool museums or you’ll never leave!

Read the full itinerary at http://letsgowonder.com/48-hours-kiev-ukraine-gowonder-city-guide/

That includes detailed info about:

  1. Kiev-Pechersk Lavra – The monastery that’s basically a candle-lit maze of cave tunnels!
  2. Motherland Monument and War Museum – Discover the view from Ukraine’s Statue of Liberty!
  3. Cheap and Relaxing Boat Cruise – Kick back and enjoy Kiev’s panorama!
  4. Bar Banka – Eat and drink out of jars on the best night of your life!
  5. Landscape Alley Park – Walk a mile in Alice in Wonderland’s feet!
  6. Independence Square – Celebrate Ukraine’s freedom and spirit of revolution
  7. Zip-Line to the Beach – Fly like the wind – over the city
  8. A Church with a View – See the sunset reflected in dozens of golden domes

 

 

 

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Life With Autism in Ukraine

Tania needs help because she doesn’t know how to teach or engage her son Radomir. He needs to be taught elementary things that normal children know by themselves. However at the same time he is a good manipulator, he can recognize people’s weaknesses after meeting them just twice.

She was 28-years-old when he was born. He was a non-problematic child who ate everything, had a normal temperature and was born with nails like any other child. Everything changed when he was eight months old. He got a fever out of the blue and his temperature rose quickly. At the same time he stopped eating everything except for milk products and porridge.

He was two years old when he started going to preschool and his mother was told that he would hit his head against the wall and the tiles on the floor. After a visit to the psychologist and specialists told his family that he may be autistic.

However they were surprised that there were no usual symptoms at or after childhood. The only possible cause was asphyxia, since a day and a half went by between his mother’s water breaking and her giving birth.

He is very different from other autistic kids. He makes eye contact, although it took a lot of practice and he has many interests. There are no special places for children exactly like him. It’s hard to know where the thin line between his autism and the behaviors of a normal child. Some professionals say that you can’t punish autistic kids but then how do you teach them?

Radomir made progress soon after visiting the psychologist. He acted no different from normal children except for his interests that are only logical. He prefers numbers, words and geometry instead of action figures and other toys. Unless a game is educational, he isn’t interested in it.

Although physically he’s completely healthy and has perfect hearing, he only eats cooked buckwheat. He has gone through many tests and they all yielded different results. They met with a woman who had studied autism and she said that what he suffered from wasn’t actual autism but merely an aspect of autism.

Like a normal child, if you tell him that his mom is mad at him, he will hide. He needs to be taken on walks every two hours because of his amounts of energy. When he’s on walks, he is always running, trying to cover as much ground as possible.

At home however, he can entertain himself for hours with puzzles and logical games. If he can’t solve a puzzle, he will get an adult and get their help to figure out how to solve it. He finds letter everywhere. When he was 6 months old he started pointing at numbers and crying until they were identified.

He is picky about the people he communicates with. He prefers older kids, girls in particular. He doesn’t like men or kids his age except for a select number of boys who are older than him, are interesting and active. When he’s around children he likes, he does what he can to get the older kids to pay attention and smile at him.

Fortunately all the children who needed help got free support and medication, but they were all treated with the same drugs. Everything that the doctors recommended, such as tablets for stimulation, were experimental. The doctors kept saying ‘let’s try this’ and ‘let’s try that’.

He went through tests so that he could get into a preschool for kids with speech impediments. It was one of the best options for kids like him. However it is very hard to get in and he had to go through lots of tests.

As he got older Tania took him to national hospitals where they did similar tests and got very different results. Some doctors said that he didn’t listen or respond to them, while others said that he gets interested and understands everything they say. His family tried homeopathy which blamed the asphyxiation for the autism.

Children with autism supposedly don’t have regular feeling in their bodies and they have to be taught how to be held. But in his case, he got sick when he got held too much. He was given pills that were supposed to help him but they only made him cry, pee himself and have a runny nose all at once.

While he goes to school, he can only stay for half of the day which costs 3,600 UAH. This is because he is regarded as problematic and his teachers leave him alone and don’t try and get him to participate with school work. Another complaint is that he can’t eat anything no matter how much they forced him to, however the homeopath confirmed that he can barely eat anything.

Tania has paid for everything with her own money — there is no governmental help. The medication that she has tried has either made his situation worse, caused an allergic reaction or had no effect. There is only one special kindergarten for kids with disabilities in Kyiv, and it costs 20,000 UAH per month, while an average salary there is 2,500 — 3,000 UAH. Most of the medication costs around 500 UAH and it rarely works so they only try it once or twice.

His mother had to take him to a genetics institute in Kharkiv, far from Kyiv, in order to have a specialist test what he can and can’t eat. Although they got a paper from a local doctor to go to the doctor for free, the tests, including the blood test, still cost a lot. Expensive tests are offered at any chance possible.

The transportation itself is a huge hassle as autistic children won’t sit down for a second. They are full of energy and can’t be unattended. His mother once left him alone in the car for a few minutes because he was sleeping, and before she could notice he had figured out how to unlock the car and he got out. The same thing happened once at their home. He got out of the window and went out for a walk in the rain all on his own without anyone noticing. A neighbor found him and had brought him home.

In order to get basic tests, they are sent all over Kyiv. This usually involves an 8 AM registration to see the doctor for a 2 PM appointment but generally by 3 PM the doctor still hasn’t arrived. Getting to the offices and hospitals, even with an ambulance is almost impossible.

The waiting rooms are not designed for people with children. There are no changing tables in the bathrooms where it’s normal to wait for up to six hours. In addition to this, doctors are always late for at least a few hours.

The most success they’ve had was with homeopathy which was still all experimental and very expensive. A regular session with a private therapist costs $25 for a session and it is recommended to have them 3 times a week.

Life with Radomir is challenging and Tania is doing all she can to help him lead a normal life. She is struggling with not only the finances but the lack of resources and information for children with mental disabilities. She wanted to share her story in hope to raise awareness and improve the situation for other families with similar struggles in Ukraine.

https://olenakaguiukraine2014.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/life-with-autism-in-ukraine/

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Abandoned Factory Used as Azov Base May Fall Into the Wrong Hands

The short drive from the armed checkpoint to the assigned parking area reveals large abandoned buildings and sidewalks overgrown with grass. Several cars are parked in the area overlooking a training course, a fenced off area and large building with no windows. Another guarded checkpoint offers access to the living area.

Soldiers, trainees and volunteers work digging holes, cooking meals and reconstructing a building. Rubble mixed with glass and wires fill the three-story building where men work to improve their living conditions. A little boy wearing a red helmet helps his father by moving discarded stones into a pile. Right now the group of 50 live in tiny temporary housing with 8 men per room, sleeping in bunk beds and one shared bathroom with limited water.

The new kitchen is almost complete and the temporary kitchen is outdoors and happy to accept food donations. Mechanic volunteers are also welcome to help reconstruct vehicles damaged in the war zone. One section of the old factory is designated for vehicle repair while others act as training rooms for combat, strategic operations and gun handling. Civilians and even other battalions are also welcome to come and participate in training.

Former metalworking factory ATEK has played a significant role since the beginning of the conflict on November 21st 2013. It housed weapons and titushki at the beginning of 2014 before it was leased to the Azov Battalion in December 2014.

The infantry military unit consists of volunteers with right-wing ideals. They belong under the branch of the National Guard of Ukraine and have around 1,000 men. They participate in ATO operations and have participated in many battles in Eastern Ukraine.

Since December 2014 Azov members have worked to transform the abandoned factory into a base where they could live, train and help the Ukrainian military. They also agreed to pay off Atek’s debt in exchange for use of the space. But since July 2015 the state-own Fiscal Service of Ukraine has been trying to quietly hand the factory over to a Russian company KVV. KVV have been affiliated with separatists of the self-proclaimed Donbass People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

AZOV has staged protests to keep the lease. They do not want the space that they been working hard to renovate to fall into the wrong hands. Especially when the new potential owners could use the space to create military equipment that could then be used against the Ukraine military.

This is especially crucial right now because Atek is the birth place of what is being referred to as the most advanced tank in the world. It is being built by Nikolay Stepanov, a well known chief Engineer and former Head designer for the Malyshev Tank Factory, and his son. If mass-produced, it could play an important part in the war in Eastern Ukraine.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olena-kagui/abandoned-factory-used-as_b_8129054.html

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Czechs Celebrate Independence Day by Protesting Rusia’s War on Ukraine

The greatest surprise came when we got to the castle. When we got to our destination there was a man wearing a large paper-mâché mask reassembling Russian president’s Vladimir Putin’s face. He was holding a puppet with Zeman’s face on it. The group stopped by the puppet while the group leader, wearing a Putler shirt, explained through a microphone that the group was pro-democratic and against Putin’s influence in the Czech Republic. The speaker was Czech like most of the organizers and attendees.

October 28th is the Czechoslovak Independence Day. In 1918 it was the day that Czechoslovakia was created and it continues to be celebrated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia today. All students and most adults have the day off, some have the entire week. While most Czechs celebrate the day outside of the city, with their families or relaxing at home, today a handful of Czechs attended a protest in support of Ukraine.

Every weekend such events are held at the famous Old Town Square by the group Prague Maidan. There are concerts, speeches and people gathering signatures for pro-Ukraine petitions. This holiday had a special agenda. A lot of Czechs, especially those living in Prague, don’t support the president and his policies. President Milos Zeman is often called a communist by those who oppose him.

The fliers advertising the march from Old Town Square to the Prague Castle had slogans such as:
– Demanding a pro-democratic president, and
– We don’t want Putin’s puppet living in the castle.

There between 30 and 40 people in total – a mixture of Czechs, Ukrainians and even one or two Americans. Right away we were told that there will be people protesting against us and that we are not to interfere verbally or physically. Before we even left the square, a Russian-speaking woman dressed in yellow pants and a blue jacket started arguing with one of the protesters wearing Ukrainian ‘nationalist’ colors, black and red. She was arguing that we shouldn’t be protesting against anything but rather for something. The protester said a few words back but the march proceeded as planned.

The group had Czech flags, Ukrainian flags and several anti-Zeman and anti-Putin signs in Czech. People on the street called out at us: some yelling insults and others voicing their support. At least ten police officers walked with us and interfered when people approached the group in an aggressive manner. There were also two police cars and one police van that helped us cross roads safely and escorted us the entire way. There was one particular park on the path up to the castle where a group of pro-Russians was gathered with signs and a Russian flag. The signs were illegible from where we walked. The group was slightly smaller than ours and yelled out unintelligible words.

The greatest surprise came when we got to the castle. When we got to our destination there was a man wearing a large paper-mâché mask reassembling Russian president’s Vladimir Putin’s face. He was holding a puppet with Zeman’s face on it. The group stopped by the puppet while the group leader, wearing a Putler shirt, explained through a microphone that the group was pro-democratic and against Putin’s influence in the Czech Republic. The speaker was Czech like most of the organizers and attendees.

After the organizers’ speech, a Czech man yelled from the castle saying “shame!” Everyone responded by laughing saying, “yes, shame on Zeman!” Before marching back to Old Town Square, a Russian man stepped forward. He pulled out his passport to prove that he was truly a Russian citizen, before delivering an anti-Zeman speech. He referred to him as a ‘man who gets drunk with Russian buddies’ and expressed his discontent with both Zeman and Putin.

Everyone in the group was very friendly and despite the several anti-Ukrainians around us, the atmosphere remained friendly and peaceful. I didn’t follow the group back to the square for the concert that was to follow, but I was grateful to have experienced the march. I look forward to reporting on any other events that Prague Maidan organizes.

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Officially published here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olena-kagui/czechs-celebrate-independence-day_b_6064436.html

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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100th Anniversary of WWI – DOX Front Line Exhibition

Today many nations are suffering and thousands of people are being killed. The major current conflicts with headlines all over the media include Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. While some conflicts remain mostly regional, others like Israel-Palestine and Ukraine-Russia are becoming a threat to global peace. Obsessing over protecting the economy and continuing harmful trade cycles keeps preventing the success of peace talks and finding concrete solutions. Now more than ever we can see that history repeats itself. This is why we need to refer to the past when building a better future. That is the reason that DOX organized this exhibition…

“In 1914 the Great War began… and has lasted ever since.”

This quote can be found at the DOX Center for Contemporary Art in Prague the capital of the ‘heart of Europe.’ August 4th, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. The Front Line exhibition tells the stories of several Czech men from all over the country who had to leave their home and went to fight at various war fronts. Many powerful quotes written by Czech soldiers cover the walls of the exhibition:

“The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings…” – Aldous Huxley from the Austrian front.

“… we could write anything, just not the truth.” “What is fear. Fear is man. Man fears only man.” – Frantisek Seda also from the Austrian Front.

“If the soldiers were hungry, the town’s civilian population was hungrier still.” – Jan Vit from the Russian Front.

The quotes written by Czech soldiers reflect the hardships that war inflicts on the soldiers, their families and on the human psyche. But there are also quotes from famous global figures who touch on the cause and nature of wars:

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” – Voltaire

“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein.

The total number of civilian and military deaths during WWI is estimated to be around 40 million. The war devastated Europe and tensions lingered long after the war. The drive of each country to rebuild their economies and recreate normalcy in a post-war society led to mistrust and political unrest – the second world war began only 21 years after the first ended.

The exhibition includes bits and pieces of the belongings of the Czech soldiers. The letters they wrote, the medals they won and the photographs they took; all reveal the horror of war. But the stories that the soldiers and their families pass on are more than memories of the past – they are a warning message to our generation and those that will follow.

Today many nations are suffering and thousands of people are being killed. The major current conflicts with headlines all over the media include Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. While some conflicts remain mostly regional, others like Israel-Palestine and Ukraine-Russia are becoming a threat to global peace. Obsessing over protecting the economy and continuing harmful trade cycles keeps preventing the success of peace talks and finding concrete solutions. Now more than ever we can see that history repeats itself. This is why we need to refer to the past when building a better future. That is the reason that DOX organized this exhibition:

“(So) that some recollections of these ugly and horrible days be preserved for future generations, so they guard well against the ambitions of ‘dangerous lunatics’…” – Josef Lacina

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Officially published here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olena-kagui/100th-anniversary-of-wwi-_b_5698759.html

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Prague LGBT Community Supports Ukraine 2014

As a Ukrainian citizen, I was extremely touched by the gesture. This meant a lot more to me than seeing foreigners supporting my country. Although the world is becoming increasingly more open toward the LGBT community, there is still a lot of legal and social discrimination. I was honored that the LGBT community decided to spend the one day a year dedicated to celebrating their own freedom by showing their support for the sovereignty of Ukrainian territory.

The fourth annual Prague Pride Parade, held on Aug. 16, ended with a festival in Letna Park. What made this year’s event special was the Ukrainian flags spotted in between the extravagant costumes and rainbows. The largest LGBT event in central Europe chose to share their special day with Ukraine.

Just recently, on the night of Aug. 14, Russian military convoys were seen crossing the border. Some thought that this would be the official beginning of a war. This happened right in the middle of Pride week in Prague, and although the conflict in Ukraine didn’t escalate as much as people had feared, Ukraine felt a jolt of vulnerability.

As a Ukrainian citizen, I was extremely touched by the gesture. This meant a lot more to me than seeing foreigners supporting my country. Although the world is becoming increasingly more open toward the LGBT community, there is still a lot of legal and social discrimination. I was honored that the LGBT community decided to spend the one day a year dedicated to celebrating their own freedom by showing their support for the sovereignty of Ukrainian territory.

Today they showed that they truly believe that freedom belongs to everyone.

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Originally posted here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olena-kagui/prague-lgbt-community-sup_b_5684607.html

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Ukraine 2014 – Life During Crisis

It was volunteers who did the most at the protest, but politicians were necessary too, especially to help get people out of jail. The politicians also offered the protesters organization and helped them raise their demands. But although some politicians tried, “politicians couldn’t lead the revolution.”

The crisis in Ukraine began on November 21st, when the former president, Yanukovych had refused to sign an agreement with the EU that he had been promising to sign for over a year. He wanted instead to form closer ties with Russia. Students went out to Independence Square known as Maidan, to protest. The police used violence to disperse them, which brought a lot more people out onto the streets. More and more gathered to protest, and stood there through freezing temperatures and violent conditions. They are still standing there today until there are a new government and order in Ukraine. I applied for a grant from the Prague Freedom Foundation to go make a difference in Ukraine. In Ukraine, I spoke to Olga, Irina and Eduard. Their stories were originally published on my blog, www.olenakaguiukraine2014.wordress.com.

Olga:

Olga Azzuz, a dentist at one of the field hospitals describes what happened in Kiev as “the scream of the soul of the nation.” In her opinion it is important for Ukrainians to deal with this issue by themselves, however, “if the West can help out, then they should.” She spoke coldly about Yanukovych and his people, calling them bandits. She said that they “traded their bandit clothing for suits when Yanukovych was elected and stole money from the nation.” They then put this stolen money into Western banks. “They confused their own pockets with the nation’s pocket,” she said.

At the beginning people just wanted to go talk to those in power, “but when people went to the government, their way was blocked,” which angered them. According to her, there is no proof that it was the protesters who started the violence but violence did begin after almost 3 months of peaceful protesting. A lot of outrage came when the government enforced strict laws against protesting. Azzuz was particularly angry about this, saying “If we continued to live that way (following those laws) we would live as slaves in a dog house on a leash, seeing the sky only through bars.”

Before the protests even began, inflation was getting really bad; people could no longer afford food. After rent and food were taken care of, they had no extra money to spend on clothes or anything else. The gap between the poor and the rich expanded.

This revolution was a revolution of educated and intelligent people who had diplomas, who ran their own businesses, explains Azzuz, “it was the people who had something in their lives and wanted to defend it.” These protesters had no rights in the eyes of the government, and that was the problem.

The amazing thing about Maidan was that the self-organized volunteers came where they were needed. They would do whatever they were capable of to show support – cook, fight, draw, speak or pray. All the necessary ‘positions’ were filled by people who had those particular skills. The volunteers would meet and they greeted each other like family. There was a real sense of unity.

It was volunteers who did the most at the protest, but politicians were necessary too, especially to help get people out of jail. The politicians also offered the protesters organization and helped them raise their demands. But although some politicians tried, “politicians couldn’t lead the revolution.”

Azzuz then told me that everyone at Maidan worked together to keep it clean. When it snowed, they would clear snow from the paths and use the snow to build and enforce barricades. At one point the garbage collectors refused to come to Maidan. So the protesters gathered all the trash, filled up several cars and brought the trash bags straight to the dump. They demanded that next time the trash collectors came, and they began coming regularly again.

There was a big problem with taking protesters to hospitals because the Berkut would stop ambulances and harass the injured – Azzuz’s word of choice to describe Berkut’s behavior was “sadistic”. So volunteers decided to organize their own field hospitals and used regular passenger cars to transport the injured to protect them.

A lot of the patients who were stopped by Berkut were never seen again. There was one particular patient who Azzuz treated; he had very serious injuries, broken teeth, ripped lip and broken bones in his face around his nose and eyes. He told her that a Berkut officer was beating him in the face yelling “I will rip your head off.” He was one of the patients who a random stranger took to a hospital in his car. Azzuz called hospital after hospital asking about him. He had lost his passport and they hadn’t had time to give him fresh clothes before they had to run, and she was very worried about him. After very many phone calls, she reached a nurse who told her he was recovering from surgery to reconstruct his face. She reassured her that they are taking care of getting him a new passport and had been given clothes that were donated to the hospital. Azzuz thanked her and was relieved to hear that at least his story had ended well, considering the circumstances. During those times, any good news added a little hope and pointed towards a better future.

Irina:

“We are women but we can still help, at least morally,” said Irina, who’s been working in the Cossack kitchen for three months. She is a student in Kiev and when I asked her why she came, she looked at me like it was a crazy question, “all my people are here… I live here so I’m going to stand here until the end.”

I asked her if she was scared. “Sometimes,” she said, “especially that night.” She referred to the night when Berkut stormed Maidan. But she didn’t let her fear stop her from doing what she believed was right. She found a way to help her people, like everyone else at Maidan. Politicians and their parties are often mentioned when people speak about Maidan, but they usually have a hidden (or a not so hidden) agenda, it is ordinary people like Irina who are the true heroes of Ukraine.

Eduard:

I really wanted to speak to the Afghan war veterans, who were very active at the protests. But the man who had the authority to speak for them wasn’t there yet. So Eduard Kryhov offered to tell me his story and show me one of the field hospitals.

He was in and out of Maidan since it began, alternating between spending time with his wife outside of Kiev, and living in the veteran tent. He helped out a lot at one of the medical points, and one night, they were told that Berkut was about to storm them. He has had a knee problem at the time and knew he wasn’t able to help carry injured men out to safety. Instead, he grabbed a hand-grenade and walked up to where the Berkut could see him. The 64-year-old man showed them what he was holding and said, “Look at me; I have seen all there is to see, I don’t care anymore, if you come in here, we will all die together.” The Berkut did not attack the medical point; Kryhov had saved several lives with his bravery.

Kryhov took me to one of the field hospitals at Maidan, where people were still coming to get treated. One man needed stitches removed from his lip and eyebrow, he looked badly beaten. Others came to get dental work done, or to treat a fever or a sprained arm. Kryhov took me into an empty room, made me some tea, offered me bread and showed me pictures of his friends and asked me to put them online. He told me about how he used to live in Prague 9 and Brno and about his wife. He made me see what everyone meant by Maidan uniting people when we parted ways we hugged each other like old friends.

I was very lucky to meet such a wonderful and kind man. He had helped save the country not once but twice – first in Afghanistan and now at Maidan. He taught me that one person can make all the difference in the world.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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Guest column: Foreign Support in Ukraine

Many people think they can’t help because they don’t have the money, political power or the words to share with Ukraine. But every picture of foreigners holding up Ukrainian flags from abroad adds a drop of hope to the Ukrainians who are fighting for their freedom — many of whom still gather at Maidan today to fight for a better future.

Since the peaceful protests that began on Nov. 21, 2013, turned violent three months later, the whole world has been watching Ukraine. There have been talks between European Union member states, NATO, the United States and Russia on how to help stabilize the situation, but there is still unrest in Ukraine. People from all over the globe have been trying to help support Ukraine in non-political ways too, such as by sending reporters, doctors, money, clothes and supplies. But there are fun and simple ways to help as well.

On March 16, I attended the fifth Flag Parade organized by Expats in Kiev, and it was an amazing experience. As we prepared our flags at the meeting point, I met many interspersing international people. Everyone was mingling, having a great time and, most importantly, supporting Ukraine. With yellow-and-blue ribbons tied to his English flag, stood one of the organizers, a British man named Chris Taylor. He explained that he helped organize the event “to show unity, to show that the international community [in Kiev] does support the new government.”

Taylor has lived in Kiev for four years and believes an event such as a flag parade “is a very visible thing that the international community can do to show support.”

He had supported Ukraine from the beginning of the conflict and he wants this event to show a continued support for Maidan.

“Even if Crimea and Russian aggression wasn’t happening, we’d still be supporting Ukraine,” he said.

As the parade walked through the streets, Ukrainians cheered and thanked everyone for the support.

I was pleasantly surprised when someone yelled “Slava Ukraini” and all around me, expats from at least 20 different countries responded in unison with “Herojam Slava.” This created a strong feeling of unity among all of us within the parade but also with the Ukrainians around us.

When we got to Maidan, some of us got to go on stage and say something to the thousands of watching people. Everyone had really beautiful and supporting things to say. Ukrainians, like everyone else in the world, have heard a lot about the “American Dream,” yet on the stage of Maidan, Americans living in Kiev stood up to praise Ukraine and its people.

People spoke of how inspiring the protests were to them, and all the short speeches spoken in Ukrainian, Russian, English, German and French ended in loud applause. Once everyone spoke, the Ukrainian national anthem was played, and everyone, no matter what nationality, joined in to sing along with it. The speaker who welcomed us on stage had said, “We might not understand all the words, but support speaks for itself.”

As a Ukrainian, I found all this very inspiring and remembering that day still gives me goose-bumps. The speaker in Maidan was right – support really is a universal language, and there can’t be too much of it.

Many people think they can’t help because they don’t have the money, political power or the words to share with Ukraine. But every picture of foreigners holding up Ukrainian flags from abroad adds a drop of hope to the Ukrainians who are fighting for their freedom — many of whom still gather at Maidan today to fight for a better future.

Officially published here: http://www.kentwired.com/opinion/article_c3ec757a-c433-11e3-9043-001a4bcf6878.htm

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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