For 35 years we have promoted peace through international travel to Ukraine, among other destinations. In the way we travel – and the reason many of you travel with us – it’s all about connecting with people, and with their cultures. Through such connections we discover more about the world – and about ourselves.
Ukrainians are fighting for their homes and families, for their territorial integrity, for the democratic values we all cherish and for their cultural heritage. Culture is essential in so many ways. Teaching us to appreciate our own and other world cultures, to live compassionately and come to understand what we have in common with one another – culture can be a catalyst for peace.
You may have read about the Ukrainian ballet dancers who continue to perform in Paris, and the efforts by UNESCO and those of the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab, all notable and noble cultural heritage preservation efforts we applaud – and no doubt there are countless others.
Thank you to those who have read our posts MIR Stands with Ukraine and On Ukraine and Prayers for Peace and have already made donations to aid Ukraine. We so appreciate your calls and emails, and any and all contributions made. We continue to be humbled by the bravery of the Ukrainians on the battlefield, and beyond and uplifted by the generosity of Ukraine’s neighbors and those here in the U.S. and around the world who are supporting Ukraine.
We continue to support the resilient spirit and cultural heritage of the Ukrainian nation and we’ve heard from many of you seeking suggestions for how to do the same – in a direct manner. In addition to international non-profits we’ve donated to, we have also directly supported three Ukrainian families doing what they can individually to support their beloved homeland.
We’d like to introduce you to these three families who have dedicated their careers to preserving Ukrainian culture and tradition by sharing it with the world in their own grassroots ways – and who are intent on helping their nation in any way possible. See below for how you can help.
Our Ukrainian Cultural Ambassador
Luba from Kyiv/temporarily in the UK [Photo Credit: Luba; taken in the American cultural center]
Luba is the Director of MIR’s Kyiv operations and she and her husband John had been living at their home on the outskirts of Kyiv. They had to leave, and having first relocated to Lviv, they then moved on to Luba’s hometown in the Transcarpathian region, and then across the Romanian border and are now in John’s native land, the UK. Some of you may know Luba, and if you’ve traveled with MIR to Ukraine, you surely would remember Luba’s friendly face and her mission to share the beauty of the Ukrainian culture with visitors from around the world.
Luba has dedicated her entire career to developing tourism and to fostering cultural connections. She and her husband John are now spending their time fundraising from outside Ukraine, to support fellow Ukrainians like the families listed below, among others.
Master of the Traditional Art of Ukrainian Egg-Painting
The master, Tamara, and her students in Kyiv [Photo Credits: Luba]
Tamara Hlushenok is a master of the Ukrainian art of egg-painting and a National Artist of Ukraine. She has hosted many of MIR’s guests in her Kyiv studio and taught many a visitor the finer aspects of Ukrainian egg painting traditions: from drawing the pattern, to coating the egg in hot wax to dipping it in colors. Literally translated as egg-writing, this traditional craft has been elevated to an art in Ukraine. Each pattern has a different meaning, some of them dating back to pagan times. Tamara has had to relocate to the Transcarpathian region for the time being.
Tamara’s daughter Olga is based in Lviv, and works with a non-profit currently purchasing essential medical supplies via Poland and transporting them back to Kyiv for local distribution to area hospitals, where it has become nearly impossible to obtain urgently needed supplies.
Transcarpathia Region Volunteers
Ivan, Lesya & daughter [Photo Credit: Lesya Berkala]
Ivan & Lesya head up a group of volunteers based in Rakhiv, Luba’s hometown in the Transcarpathian region. Lesya is Luba’s cousin and works for the Town Hall as Chief of the Department of Education. Her husband, Ivan, serves as Head of the Territorial Defense Unit in Rakhiv and he also runs Hutsul culture tours in the Carpathian Mountains.
The lush and forested Carpathians are the homeland of the Hutsul people, mountain village pastoralists of Western Ukraine who have kept the traditions and language of the region alive. The woodcarving, embroidery, weaving and leatherwork of the Hutsul people is highly prized. Animal husbandry, beekeeping, hunting, trapping, fishing and handicrafts are their main industries.
The Rakhiv volunteers also include Luba’s brother and nephew, and collectively they are providing help in the following arenas:
- Refugee assistance – arranging shelter, food, water, clothing, transport and fuel to take Ukrainians forced to leave their homes to the Romanian border located 50km away from Rakhiv.
- Hospital supplies – acquiring urgently needed pharmaceutical products.
- Territorial Defense Units of Rakhiv District – providing helmets, boots, ammunition, and other supplies.
If you’d like to provide direct assistance to these Ukrainian families and support their grassroots efforts, please contact us for details.
Other Ways to Help Ukraine
Fundraiser thank yous Luba makes and gives to donors in the UK [Photo Credit: Luba]
As mentioned in our previous posts, we’re supporting these international non-profit organizations which are among many doing essential humanitarian work for Ukrainians. We hope that you may join us in giving – to one or more of them, or to other non-profits of your choice.
- International Rescue Committee
- The International Committee of the Red Cross
- Save the Children
- The UN Refugee Agency
- World Central Kitchen
- Direct Relief
- The United Nations World Food Program
- Doctors Without Borders
Thank you so much
Artwork of Ukrainian Folk Art Painter Maria Prymachenko. One of Kyiv’s museums exhibiting this famous artist’s works has been partially destroyed. [Photo credit: Luba]