Strona główna/[ENG] REPORT: 6 months of help for Ukraine

[ENG] REPORT: 6 months of help for Ukraine

Paulina Skipirzepa-Kamińska
Translated from Polish by Satya Nowak

Since the beginning of March, the Workshops of Culture in Lublin have been carrying out various artistic, charity and children’s entertainment activities for Ukrainian refugees living in Lublin. After six months, we decided to sum up what we have done so far.

The Common Room
For six months, we ran a child-friendly space in which the youngest had a chance to forget about adult problems. They could play board games, play with toys, arrange blocks, watch fairy tales, and play ball on the patio. While the common room was operating, children could also take part in organized activities. The program included Polish language lessons (every Wednesday and Thursday), art workshops (Monday-Friday) and film screenings (twice a month).

Thanks to the support of the Saint Nicholas Foundation, as part of the St. Nicholas Station, we were able to expand our staff and become more professional. The children were looked after by two qualified Ukrainians educated in pedagogics and children’s entertainment, who we hired to work in the common room.

In the beginning, the common room at the Workshops of Culture in Lublin was also a place to relax for adults who arrived in our city and did not know where to go next. Our registered office, at 5a Grodzka Str, in the immediate vicinity of the bus station, was one of the first welcoming stops for them. The common room was a place for them to rest, have a cup of coffee or tea, as well as use a computer with a Ukrainian keyboard and free wi-fi. Keeping in mind the needs of the refugees, we prepared special brochures with information in Ukrainian, so that they could conveniently get verified information on legal and medical assistance available in Lublin. The folder provided information on where to look for work, accommodation, how to get psychological help, which restaurants offer cheap meals for refugees, etc. Some affable restaurants offered their help, providing our guests with a free meal, including Zadora, Ambaras and the Court City Pub. We were also able to count on many private people who brought toys, books and most urgently needed clothes or cosmetics to our common room, for which we are very grateful.
The common room was open from March to August from Monday to Friday. The opening hours varied depending on the month, but most of the time the space was available from 11:00 to 17:00.

Inclusion activities for children
With help from the St. Nicholas Foundation, we also organized a series of workshops integrating children from Ukraine and Poland and their families, outside of the common room. The program included, among others, art, music, tailoring and photography workshops. The project also involved organized trips for children, which gave them many summer holiday memories and carefree joy.

Integration workshops organized by us:
October 25 – Glass Pictures;
October 24 – Sockers;
October 22 – Expedition to Space;
October 19 – Bead Bracelets;
October 18 – Felt Toys;
October 12 – Fabric Painting;
October 11 – Origami;
October 10 – Collage;
October 8 – Playful Art – Dadaism and Mail Art;
October 4 – Ragdolls;
October 3 – Satin Ribbon Bracelets;
September 28 – Fabric Painting;
September 26 – Paper Bouquets;
September 21 – Glass Lanterns;
September 19 – Ragdolls;
August 27 and 28 – Experimental Vocal Workshops;
August 14 – Superhero Cape;
August 13 – Discovering New Lands!;
August 11– Herbarium. A trip to the open-air museum;
August 9 – Magic Gardens;
August 7 – Expedition into Space;
July 24 – City of Dreams | Travels around Architecture;
July 23 – An Upside Down World | Pinhole Photography;
July 17 – Discovering Lublin | A City Game;
July 16 – The Walls Speak | Street Art;
July 3 – „Playful Art – Dadaism and Mail Art;
July 2 – I spy green!;
June 26 – A City of Dreams | Making a City of Our Dreams;
June 25 – A World Upside Down | Building a Camera;
June 12 – Discovering Lublin | An Expedition to the Old Town in Search of a Lost Treasure;
June 11 – The Walls Speak | Painting Graffiti and Making Stickers;
May 28 – Playful Art – Dadaism and Mail Art.
May 21 – I spy green!
We also took into consideration children with autism spectrum disorder who came to us from Ukraine. Workshops from the series The Art of Sensitivity were additionally translated into Ukrainian:
September 4 – Maximizing Potential – the Power of Breath and Uplifting Thoughts; September 3 – New Craftsmanship – TIE–DYE Workshops;
September 2 – Touch games – Colorful Sandbox
July 12 – Spectrum of Interests: Basics of Cycling Technique;
July 5 – Spectrum of Interests: Basics of Fixing bicycles;
May 21 – Sensory How-tos: Sewing a Sensory Book;
May 8 – Sensory Art;
May 7 – Sensory How-tos: Sewing a Sensory Book”.

Learning Polish
The adults visiting our office showed a great need to learn Polish. We therefore added regular lessons to our program. To this day, 60 people participate in the classes, but there are many more who are willing. In addition to that, thanks to the program of the St. Nicholas Foundation, we managed to launch Polish language courses for children in 3 groups – two for beginners and one for advanced students. The classes are still continuing.

Promotion of Ukrainian Culture at Festivals
For years, Ukrainian music, literature, cinema and visual arts have been an integral part of the identity of festivals, in particular the East of Culture – Different Sounds and Re:tradition – The Jagiellonian Fair. We cooperate with artists, organizations and institutions from Ukraine and we do not intend to change this. We invited Ukrainian artists in times of peace, now we did not forget them in times of the tragedy of war.

• Night of Culture – June 4-5 2022
The entire program of the festival was translated into Ukrainian and available online.
A Ukrainian-speaking guide was available for the participants of the event. He offered a tour of the Old Town and the festival’s art installations twice during the event for those who were interested.
Artists from Ukraine were also involved in the creation of the festival program. Two installations were prepared for the participants. The first one was Olha 1891 by Olha Chykalo, the second – Spring Girl by Ylia Hryhoryeva. Both works addressed the issues of identity, memory and feelings that war evokes. The central figure of the art installation was the Woman and her situation in the face of the disaster of war.

• East of Culture – Different Sounds – July 7-10, 2022
The entire program of the festival was translated into Ukrainian and available online.

The festival’s line-up featured the Ukrainian band Cluster Lizard and the Polish-Ukrainian duo Kadabra Dyskety Kusaje. The program also included a concert from a band playing brass instruments based on the Youth Academic Symphony Orchestra Slobozhanski from Kharkiv.
At the festival in Blonie, one could see the Yellow & Blue exhibition, which, through the graphic language of the posters, depicted Ukrainian traditions, places and customs that are not easy to find in city guides. The second exhibition, concerning the subject of Ukraine, available during the East of Culture – Different Sounds festival was Support Ukraine PIC. It portrayed the current situation in Ukraine and was a commentary on the war reality that Ukrainian illustrators wanted to present to the world.

One of the modules of the East of Culture – Different Sounds festival is the presentation of books by writers from across our eastern border, collected in a series called Eastern Express. As part of this event, contemporary books that have won awards in Ukraine are published for the first time in Polish. The premieres are accompanied by a series of book signings. During the 2022 edition, two books by Ukrainian authors were published: The Mirror Cube by Lesya Beleya and The Last Kiss of Ilyich by Vanya Krueger. There were also meetings devoted to culture and literature. The program included, among others, a discussion entitled “Appropriation of Culture – Various Paths Towards National Identity”, that gathered Mykola Riabchuk, Natalia Byalotserkivech, Zmitser Waynowski and Hubert Laszkiewicz. A conversation about the „ideal concept of Polish-Ukrainian cooperation” was another interesting meeting, inspired by the context of the first edition of Jozef Lobodowski’s drama Liberation and the planned publishing of the philosophical treatise by Henryk Jozewski. There was also a discussion “Social media. A Safe or Dangerous Front of War?” with Kateryna Babkina as a guest and Mariana Kril as the interviewer.

This year, we also made available some of our older books from the Eastern Express series, in the form of e-books. The list includes: Nobody Danced Like My Grandfather, Your Gaze, Cio-Cio-San, Satan’s Spawn and Dust of the Same Road. All titles are authored by Ukrainian writers.
During workshops and games for children in VIVO! space Lublin, Ukrainian-speaking children’s entertainers were employed.
On the social media channels of the East of Culture – Different Sounds festival, we can find YouTube and Spotify playlists with music played by bands from Ukraine that have already performed in Lublin. It is a compilation of nearly 30 songs, with each stream providing extra earnings for musicians who are now fighting for their freedom.

• Carnaval of Magicians and Performers – July 28-31, 2022
The entire program of the festival was translated into Ukrainian and available online.
The festival’s musical program hosted the Kyiv Klezmorim ensemble – a Jewish-Gypsy group from Kiev gathering the best of wedding musicians from Ukraine and Moldova.
During one day of the festival a stand was set up where one could buy posters, stickers, war-themed gadgets, as well as Ukrainian folk art. The proceeds of the sale were donated to the Ukrainian army.
The circus town of FrikArt – a space for children and parents – had Ukrainian-speaking children’s entertainers.
Our long-term partner and organizer of the Urban Highline Festival did not charge any fees for participation in the event from slackliners from Ukraine. In 2022, we hosted 30 representatives from Ukraine at the festival. Moreover, the entire profit generated by tickets from slackliners from other countries will be donated to help Ukraine. All notices and information in the festival town of Urban Highline Festival, apart from Polish and English, could also be seen in Ukrainian.

• The Jagiellonian Fair – Re:Tradition – August 19-21, 2022
The entire program of the festival was translated into Ukrainian and available online.
We invited over 30 folk artists from Ukraine as exhibitors presenting their works at the Jagiellonian Fair. Some of them also ran craft workshops. The workshop program included: weaving on frames, conducted by Halina Haiduchyk, traditional Ukrainian games with the Children’s Folklore Group „Oreli” operating at the National Center of Folk Culture – Ivan Honchar Museum in Kiev, Ukrainian batik easter eggs conducted by Yulia Datchenko and puppet-making workshops with Tetiana Katrychenko and Natalia Katrychenko.

As every year, the program included a special production under the name Re:Tradition. During this edition, the concert was devoted to the cultures of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus that intertwine and permeate one another. Maniucha Bikont was responsible for the substantive development of the concert. She invited, among others, continuators of vocal traditions from the above-mentioned countries, including Tetiana Sopilka from Ukraine (along with her daughters – Anna and Maria Zachykievich), who also led a singing workshop during the festival. The US Orchestra, or the Ukrainian Silska Orchestra from Kiev, also performed onstage at the festival. The members of the band are mainly engaged in collecting, researching and popularizing Ukrainian traditional music.
There were also exhibitions devoted to Ukrainian themes – Ukrainian Naive – an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Ivan Prykhodko and Ukraine and Ukrainians – an exhibition of archival photographs from the collection of the National Center of Folk Culture – Ivan Honchar Museum in Kiev.

As part of the promotion of Ukrainian culture, a meeting with Hanna Yarovenko was held during the festival, entitled „I am the Flower of My Mother”, about traditional Ukrainian jewelry. The meeting is translated into Polish and Ukrainian.
The repertoire of the festival cinema featured the films: Ivan’s Land, directed by Andriy Lysetsky and a screening of film documentation from field research in Ukraine by Andrzej Bienkowski.

The Courtyard of Re:tradition – a space of games for children and parents – employed Ukrainian-speaking children’s entertainers.
A play for children entitled The Rooster Who Meant Business was performed by the Echo Theatre, with translation into Ukrainian.
Promotion of Ukrainian Culture – Exhibitions

From March to September 2022, we organized 6 exhibitions on Ukrainian topics. One of the most important was the exhibition Support Ukraine PIC, which showed posters of Ukrainian illustrators, which are their commentary on the current geopolitical situation in their homeland. Residents of Lublin and visitors could attend an exhibition devoted to Polish words derived from Ukrainian or a collection of photographs from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries showing Ukrainian folk culture. All exhibitions are described below:

September 22 – October 22 – Dictionary of Ukrainian-derived Polish Words. Interpreted by Polish and Ukrainian illustrators.
This was an artistic and educational undertaking, a result of cooperation between the City Art Gallery in Lodz and the Lodz Design Festival. The main inspiration behind this project were the so-called Ukrainianisms, or words functioning in the Polish language and derived from the Ukrainian language. „Written” with the help of paintings, this year’s „Dictionary” expresses the interpenetration of the two languages, and thus two cultures: Polish and Ukrainian.

August 3–31 – Ukraine and Ukrainians
This was an exhibition of photographs from the end of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, from the collection of the National Center of Folk Culture – Ivan Honchar Museum (Kiev, Ukraine). Originally, the photos were collected by Ivan Honchar in his 18-volume historical and ethnographic album, under the same title.

August 18–21 – Ukrainian Naive. Ivan Prykhodko
Ivan Prykhodko is a well-deserved master of Ukrainian folk art. For more than 60 years he has worked in decorative painting, sculpture in wood, and creating toys. Prykhodka’s work is refined with myths and legends as well as symbols and signs translating the Ukrainian folk tradition to the contemporary world.

June 4–30 – Olha 1891 by Olha Chykalo and Spring Girl by Ylia Hryhoryeva.
These artistic presentations deal with the issues of identity, memory and feelings caused by the war in Ukraine. The central figure of the art installation was the Woman and her situation in the face of the calamity of war.

April 1 – May 22 and July 7–10 – Yellow & Blue
Through the graphic language of the posters, the artists presented traditions, places and customs that are not easy to find in ordinary city guides. Residential areas, crowded beaches, public transport, traditional musical instruments, the Carpathians, local fast food and feasts, Christmas customs and architecture. In the face of the Russian aggression, the posters express a unique dimension – they show Ukraine as the artists see and want to see. They show Ukraine as it normally is. The creators emphasize that Ukraine will never forget or forgive Russia, but with faith in the country and people, it will restore everything that is now being destroyed, that which today we can only see on posters because of their unique perspective. The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Maik advertising agency.

March 11–25 and July 7–10 – Support Ukraine PIC | Don’t Close Your Eyes
The posters presented at the exhibition come from the website, which was created to fight against Russian aggression against Ukraine and to spiritually support its citizens. It shows the current situation in Ukraine and is a commentary on the reality of war that Ukrainian artists want to send to the world to draw attention to what is really happening in their country.
Promotion of Ukrainian Culture – Other Events

August 20 – A meeting with Serhiy Zhadan
The conversation was combined with a performance reading of poetry. During the meeting, the writer’s books, published by Czarne publishing house, were made available for purchase. The writer was awarded the medal „Lublin for Heroes”, and the next day he received technical assistance of approx. PLN 100,000 for Kharkov defenders, thanks to the support of the Borderland Spiritual Culture Foundation as part of the helping activities of the Lublin Social Assistance Committee in Ukraine.

June 19-30– online magazine of the Workshops of Culture in Lublin – Kultura Enter helped the Middle East Festival in Lublin with organizational matters. The festival was devoted to the presentation of independent theatre and joint activities of artists from Belarus, Ukraine and Poland.
Special Activities for Children of Ukraine

May 10 – Little Amal in Lublin
The Little Amal was a giant, 3.5 meter-tall puppet representing a small Syrian girl. It symbolizes all children suffering as a result of wars and forsaking home, becoming separate from their families. Her march became one of the most ambitious, innovative and courageous cultural projects in history, at the same time being an extraordinary artistic response to the tragedies and suffering experienced by the youngest and their families. The Workshops of Culture in Lublin invited this international project to our city on May 10, 2022.

April 24 – Cruda Collectif À Sens Unique
This was a performance exhibited during the Polish Incident Festival | Work in Progress. The artists decided to give an additional show outside the planned event program in one of the Lublin centers where deaf children from Ukraine stayed. It is a story full of humor and immersion into the past of a former gymnast. Although exceptionally talented, she was not perfect enough to be remembered. Her vision of the body and femininity was shaped by years of intense training. This unpretentious, exhibiting a great deal of self-irony woman tells the story of her inner chaos. Through acrobatics and impossible body twists, he confesses everything: from shameless love for food to obsession with fitting the body to the canons of beauty.

August 2022 – summer trip for children from the Oreli group
The Workshops of Culture in Lublin organized a week-long stay in Lublin for children from the folklore ensemble „Oreli” operating at the National Center for Folk Culture – Ivan Honczar Museum in Kiev. It was a form of holiday rest and forgetfulness of the war reality in Ukraine. Children were provided with accommodation and meals. During their stay, the festival Re:tradition – Jagiellonian Fair was held, which was a perfect attraction for this them.

Photography Workshops
Adults will also find something interesting in our program. Every Thursday and Friday, we invite you to visit the Hartwig Alley, where our Photography Workshop is located. It is run by Roman Krawchenko who serves as a guide in Ukrainian showing around a photographer’s studio from 100 years ago. In the Workshop, you can take a souvenir photo on glass, have a look at antique cameras or get a peek into the darkroom. On Saturdays, workshops on special photographic techniques are also held. Roman Kravchenko is a refugee from Crimea. He came to Poland in 2014.

Reliable Information
In times when it is difficult to distinguish opinion from facts, truth from lies, and an authority from an impostor, it is crucial to have a proven, reliable source of information. The Workshops of Culture in Lublin is the organizer of many meetings and publications on the current situation in Ukraine. The employees of the online magazine Kultura Enter especially excel at this task. Their daily work consists in not only collecting and writing reliable texts on the geopolitical situation in Ukraine, but also in supporting promotional activities for Ukraine on a supralocal basis, media patronage, providing information during conferences, organizing meetings with activists, networking activists, assistance in translation, additional dissemination and creation of content in Ukrainian.

September 22 – the employees of Kultura Enter magazine took part in a networking meeting of members of the Lublin Social Assistance Committee for Ukraine with foreign partners of the Trans-making project.

August 20 – Meeting with Serhiy Zhadan
Serhiy Zhadan met with media representatives, to whom he presented the current situation on the frontline and in his hometown – Kharkiv.
July 23 – Kultura Enter magazine co-organized a meeting entitled „What I See Looking at the War” in partnership with the Foundation for the Development of Central and Eastern Europe in Lublin, the TUVIM Library in Lodz and others.

July 21 – Publishing premiere of The Correspondence of Jozef Lobodowski and Jerzy Giedroyc – during the meeting not only a book on the correspondence between Lobodowski and Giedroyc was presented, but we also discussed the context of the Eastern policy together with our guests: Bogumila Berdychowska and prof. Rafal Wnuk.

July 2022 – Our online magazine Kultura Enter has been publishing content and comments on Eastern culture and politics for years. In July, we published a special double issue of Kultura Enter focusing on Russian crimes against Ukrainian citizens with accounts of witnesses, translated from the Ukrainian language.

April 2022 – in April, a special issue of Kultura Enter was published, entirely devoted to Ukraine. In it we will find, among others, such texts as „Laudation for Volodymyr Zelensky” written by Rev. Alfred Marek Wierzbicki, „Plea. A Letter to Ukraine” by Alhierd Bacharevich, „Russia’s War” by Mykola Riabchuk or „Putin Has Already Heard the Noise of Niagara” – a conversation with the president of the Ukrainian Confederation of Psychotherapists, Roman Kechur.

March 28 – Don Quixote and the War – meeting with Krzysztof Sawicki
A meeting about the war in Ukraine and the new book of poetry by Krzysztof Sawicki Don Quixote and the War.

March 17 – FREEDOM! Migration crisis and human rights
The guests of the meeting were Anna Dabrowska and Piotr Skrzypczak. Since 2004, they have been co-organizing the Lublin Association Homo Faber, working toward human rights, supporting foreigners, migrants and refugees in Lublin. Currently, the organization organizes help for refugees from Ukraine.

Financial and In-kind Support
Another action taken up by the Workshops of Culture to help refugees from Ukraine was to raise money for humanitarian purposes.
A major event carried out by the Workshops of Culture in Lublin was raising 500 children’s books in Ukrainian from a network of publishers and bookshops. All of them were donated to libraries and schools in Lublin, where Ukrainian children are studying today.
The Workshops of Culture also supported a similar action carried out by the Homo Faber Association, which obtained books from private individuals in western Ukraine.

The entire income from the sale of tickets for the performance „Cruda” by the Collectif À Sens Unique group from France, which took place during the Polish Incident | Work in Progress festival in April, was donated to help refugees from Ukraine.
One of the charity collection events was also Slowobranie (Word Hunt), where, together with the bookstore and café Miedzy Slowami (Inbetween Words), we invited all fans of Ukrainian literature to buy books from the Eastern Express series. All proceeds from the sale were donated to the Polish Humanitarian Action and the Homo Faber Association, which works to help the victims of the war in Ukraine as part of the Lublin Social Aid Committee in Ukraine. We donated 115 books to this cause. Half of them have already been sold.
During a meeting with Serhiy Zhadan organized by Kultura Enter magazine, volunteers and collaborators of the magazine organized a fundraise for the purchase of cars needed by the Ukrainian army. Out of book signing meetings in Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin, the largest sum was collected at our event: PLN 12,798.51, EUR 132, USD 10 and GBP 10. After a month of extended online fundraising campaign (operated by the Czajnia Foundation), two rescue cars were purchased and handed over to Kharkiv.

The online magazine Kultura Enter also participated in a joint collection of medicine for hospitals and injured people after the bombing in Vinnytsia. The collections were organized in partnership with the Foundation for the Development of Central and Eastern Europe in Lublin, the TUVIM Library in Lodz, and others. The funds collected in the course of a week amounted to over PLN 4,000 and were used to purchase life-saving medicine from a pharmacy in Lublin, then delivered to Vinnytsia.

We also decided to organize a workshop entitled „Flowers for Ukraine – Embroidery Workshops”. The pins made by the workshop participants, inspired by Ukrainian wildflowers, were sold in the café-bookstore Miedzy Slowami (Inbetween Words). The entire income was donated to the Polish Humanitarian Action and the Homo Faber Foundation.
During the meeting „Drawer Dwellers – toy exchange fairs for children” organized by the Workshops of Culture in Lublin, we held a charity collection of toys for children affected during the war in Ukraine. The youngest willingly donated their toys for this purpose, which were then all used in our common room.

The Workshops of Culture in Lublin supported the charity concert of classical music „Solidarity. In Unison with Ukraine” organized by the National Centre for Culture Poland and Channel 2 of Radio Poland. Its aim was to raise funds to support our neighbors from across the Eastern border through the Caritas fundraiser. The following artists performed during the concert: Olga Pasiecznik, Agata Zubel and the Orchestra of Radio Poland in Warsaw, conducted by Michal Klauza. The program included works by Ukrainian composers: Yuri Laniuk, Oleksandr Shymko and Levka Revutski.
During the event dedicated to Ukraine under the name „Evening Conversations of Poets”, on April 4, organized by the online magazine of the Workshops of Culture – Kultura Enter, a charity collection of personal hygiene products for refugees was held. Cafe Heca and the bookstore Miedzy Slowami (Inbetween Words) joined the collection. The collected contributions were donated to Ukrainian refugees.
The Kultura Enter magazine presented the illustrated Bible in Ukrainian from the Ukrainian Consul in Lublin to the children’s common room at the Workshops of Culture in Lublin.

During two meetings held during the Re:Tradition – Jagiellonian Fair festival, a fundraising campaign for humanitarian aid was held, conducted by volunteers from the Lublin branch of the Polish Red Cross.
On the premises of the Re:Tradition – Jagiellonian Fair, information was available on the collection run by Caritas to help Ukrainian refugee families in Lublin on an ongoing basis. Information about opportunities to help was also transmitted from the stage.
Help with Accommodation
The Workshops of Culture in Lublin provided three rooms for housing to Ukrainian refugees. We provide both accommodation and work places for people fleeing from war. Ukrainian artists and many others, benefited from comprehensive assistance organized by us.

Serhiy Zhadan in Lublin, 20.08.2022 (Kultura Enter)