"I do not like the term IDPs because it seems to me that when a person is called an IDP, it's like a brand, a label of a defective good. I think it will be easier for the displaced if they were not called that, at least not in daily life as opposed to legal terminology, so that we do not think of them in terms of who is "ours" and who is "foreign".
These are only a few words from the 18-display exhibition "My Place."
These words were said by a young woman who was forced to leave Donetsk almost a year ago. Lusya, along with thousands of other Ukrainian citizens, knows what it is like to lose your home. But, she also knows how to find "her place" in another part of Ukraine.
"I still feel the pain," says Lyudmila Bobkova from Luhansk, who has not returned home after bringing a group of children to a festival in Bulgaria to give a performance. Lyudmila and the children found "their place" in Mykolaiv. "You can say that my story is a success story. But, this would not have happened if not for the support and hospitality I received in Mykolaiv," she said gratefully. Fighting back tears, she added, "I am not going to come back ..."
Each of the eighteen stories told by participants for the project "My Place" is a very personal story. They form a kaleidoscope of intimate but recognizable thoughts and feelings which are shared by thousands of Ukrainians. These are the people who, for the last year, have been labeled by the law and entered into statistics with the confusing and impersonal term “IDPs.”
"My first interview was with a young man named Zhenya. He was very surprised and sincerely wondered if his story was really going to be interesting to anyone," says exhibition organizer Ulyana Ustinova.
The exhibition also presents the stories of people who organized the volunteer and community initiatives for all four waves of displaced persons in Kyiv, Khmelnytskyi, and the frontline towns.
"It was important for us to tell the stories of not only those who had to leave their homes, but also of the people who help. We also wanted to tell about the interaction of very different people who are put together due to their circumstances and find a common language," says another organizer, Kira Kreiderman.
The exhibition "My Place" is organized by the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine and the Educational Center Space of Tolerance, with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
According to organizers, after a period of time in Kyiv, the exhibition will travel to other cities of Ukraine. It will visit Mykolaiv, Khmelnytskyi, Lviv, and Kherson.
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