An unusual project “Travelers from the East” has been launched by Serhiy Zhadan Charity Foundation and NGO Ukrainian Frontiers to accomplish the dream of school graduates from Zolote town, Luhansk region, to see the regions of Ukraine they have never visited.
The idea for the get-to-know journey cropped up in December 2017. Some volunteers of Saint Nicholas’ Reindeers, who carry Christmas gifts to fulfill the wishes of the children, living in the front line zone, found out that school graduates from Zolote were dreaming about traveling around Ukraine.
The project initiators note that according to sociological surveys, about 80 to 90 percent of people from Donetsk and Luhansk regions have never left their home area. Therefore some Ukrainians do not know their own country and there is a divide between East and West, which impacts children and young people.
There are 14 graduates, whose itinerary includes Kharkiv, Lviv, Chernivtsi, Odesa and Zaporizhia. The organizers’ purpose is to finance the journey, to plan the trip and to help the participants make friends in other cities.
“Again and again we are increasingly convinced that one of the main problems of our society is its secrecy and isolation,” says famous Ukrainian poet and writer Serhiy Zhadan. “We do not know each other well enough, and we do not know our country and we don’t feel it. And this is the source of our fears, stereotypes, our painful disorientation. And obviously, discovering the country, in which you live, getting acquainted with your fellow citizens, coming to other cities is the way to overcome those fears, that perception gap.”
“These young people have seen the war with their own eyes. And we will let them know and feel their country,” says Iryna Kunitsina, co-founder of Zhadan Charity. Iryna adds that it is very important not only to arrange guided excursions and trips to the museums and theaters but to meet different inspiring people and to promote discussions.
The whole journey will be filmed and videos of students’ impressions, observations and ideas are to become a documentary on personal experience of discovering their homeland.
Currently, the organizers invite contributors to join the “Travelers from the East” project by funding it through Spilnokosht crowdfunding platform or helping in journey planning.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Zhadan Charity Fund