UNBREAKABLE / NEZLAMNI
Education against war
For 9 hours straight, Ukrainian teachers shared experience, skills and knowledge with their colleagues from all around the world in a live stream.
Yevheniia Tatarova, Director of the Kyiv Office of Advanced Training School for English Teachers, became a displaced person for the second time in the beginning of the war. To bring our victory closer, she held a nine-hour long seminar with English teachers, raising $4,000. The raised funds were transferred to the Serhiy Prytula Foundation for the Ukrainian military. In the “Unbreakable” special project, Yevheniia shares how to find new meanings during the war and how the English language is helping the army.
Twice the displaced person
My son is my entire family in Ukraine. In 2014, we had to leave our home in the East of Ukraine. My son was almost 7 then; he placed his hand in mine, and we left our home with a small suitcase, fleeing the war. As it turned out, we left our home to never come back. He looked at me with those sincere eyes and kept me from stopping. When I cried at night, he would wake up, asking: “Something hurts?” I couldn’t explain to him then that a soul could ache too.
We had to move more, as I was working hard on my professional growth as a teacher, an expert. I counted the minutes to the time when I could lie down and rest a bit. At one of the conferences in Baku, I was offered a position of the director of the Kyiv office of a school that is a Cambridge-certified training center and an advanced training school for English teachers. I was always on the move, working in different cities. My son often accompanied me, acting as a student for teachers from 15 countries they could use to practice their skills.
On February 25, we still held an online workshop, according to our schedule. After that, we spent three days with my son hiding in our bathroom due to constant air raid alerts. When the authorities announced that the Red Line of the Kyiv Metro would be shut down, I realised that it was our last chance to get out, because I didn’t own a car. We got to the railway station and got on the first train to Lviv. We have a rather big teacher community, and one of them offered help. We spent three days in Lviv. Naturally, nobody thought about business then. I wove camouflage nets together with Lviv residents. It was a way to be useful and thank Lviv for its hospitality. Then we moved to Mukachevo, once again to stay with a colleague. Unfortunately, I don’t have family or even one relative who would have given us shelter. Through other colleagues I learned about an opportunity to seek shelter in Sweden. That’s how we reached safety: an absolute stranger gave me a home, and also unconditional support. I was finally able to gather my thoughts and decide what I could do for our victory.
At first, I worked as a logistician for volunteers who were evacuating people from Bucha: I remotely filled out documents, created lists. My son watched the news about Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel, Mariupol, and kept repeating: “Mom, we were lucky...” My heart is breaking, because “lucky” for our children means “lucky to be alive”.
My volunteering was not enough. Since the operation of our Kyiv school for English teachers was suspended, I thought that it would be worth using the experience of holding big online events to raise funds for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And the idea of a nine-hour marathon with teachers from more than 20 countries participating was born. Teachers had an opportunity to hold short master classes, act as speakers live or pre-recorded. Our marathon was entirely free, but we urged the participants to make donations, any amount.
For 9 hours straight, Ukrainian teachers shared experience, skills and knowledge with their colleagues from all around the world in a live stream. The following countries made donations at the level of educational institutions: Ukraine, Slovenia, Georgia, Brazil and Poland. I had stressed that the number of donations and their amounts would depend on how well each speaker communicates the vibe, and we all know there is a vibe only when you speak about something that you know and love , something you are passionate about. The results speak for themselves. We raised UAH 125,000, and it was more than we had hoped for. We counted a total of more than 800 participants. The donations continued for two more days after the marathon ended. At first, we wanted to donate the money to the accounts of the Defense Ministry, but then went with the Serhiy Prytula Foundation, because he provides targeted assistance and reports.
As I was announcing the event planned for March 27 to my colleagues, I wrote:
Together, we can do more than we can imagine. I am confident that we are all of the same mind and that we understand that every speech now is not a separate speech. We are not on our own. We are a team and every one of us is responsible for the overall result.
About now and the future
These kinds of marathons are quite stressful, especially when you prepare them in force majeure conditions, but there is a demand for such events and we will try to move forward in this direction.
Right now, my business, the Kyiv school, is ‘on pause’. Clearly, we cannot work for free all the time, but it also does not seem appropriate to take pre-war money from our people. Therefore, in order to continue the operation of our school, I plan to focus on assisting our colleagues who fled abroad and wish to work there to obtain international ELT certificates. International certificates are recognised everywhere in the world. You can easily find a job with an international certificate no matter where you are. I am working now on organising the processes in this respect.
Together with our Ukrainian community, we’ve also noticed that our colleagues and students from other countries are interested in the information about the events in Ukraine that we publish on our pages. There is a demand for unbiased information, because Russian propaganda leaves a lot of questions for intelligent people. Therefore, we are planning a form of enlightening work, preparing thematic lessons about Ukraine that the English teachers around the world could use. My colleague Yevheniia Kostenko developed the first trial lesson and it was a great success. Therefore, we plan to continue to work on this together.
The circle of like-minded people is a true saviour in emergency situations, when stress is over the top. It may not be a big circle, but these are the people that accept and support you. You need to avoid toxic people and even cut the communication with them, because it is a matter of survival now, and also of preserving your psychological resources that we will need very soon, after our victory!
This article was prepared by the editorial office of Ukrainian women´s magazine WoMo as a part of the "Unbreakable" author´s special project in cooperation with Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom in Ukraine supported by the Federal Foreign Office.
“War is another case I need to win,” Inga Kordynovska on the humanitarian centre in Odesa
Inga Kordynovska is the owner of a law firm, who despite the threat of occupation of Odesa at the beginning of the war stayed in the city and established the Humanitarian Volunteer Centre in Odesa and then two more projects to help internally displaced people, mothers in particular. In the “Unbreakable” project, Inga shares how legal practice helped her during the war and why humanitarian aid is not her main goal in helping those affected by the war.
“Nobody slept in the first several months”
Olga Kudinenko is the founder of Tabletochki, a charity foundation for children with cancer, a fundraiser and a Member of the National Children’s Hospital’s OKHMATDYT Board of Trustees. In the “UNBREAKABLE” project, she shared how the foundation helped evacuate children with cancer from dangerous territories, and spoke about establishing a foundation in the U.S. and helping Ukrainians, while she’s staying abroad.
Ola Rondiak: "Today Ukraine reclaims its identity"
Ola Rondiak, a U.S. artist of Ukrainian origin, was born and raised in emigration. After Ukraine gained independence, she decided to return to her homeland. The artist is now witnessing how Ukrainians are once again fighting for their identity. And that is what she shows in her works. In an interview for WoMo, Ola shares what she felt when the war started, where she finds strength to fight and how she creates art to help the army. This article was prepared by the editorial office of Ukrainian women´s magazine WoMo as a part of the author´s special project "Unbreakable" in cooperation with Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom in Ukraine.