Human Rights

Maryna. "I’ve started to draw again in Lutsk"

Kyra Kreyderman, Uljana Ustinova
Maryna.

We continue to publish the stories of people, who lost their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as of those, who lent a helping hand in difficult times.

You’re welcome to meet Maryna, a woman who draws trees and knows perfectly well that each person can become a support for the other.

I was born in Luhansk. #In my childhood, I and my family had to live in Mongolia for a few years. Now I analyze my childhood experiences, when I think about my daughter, who had to move at the same age.

Our family home in Luhansk is a landmark location for me. It’s my home and will always remain to be such. Sometimes I desperately want to #go back, to sit in my favorite old chair near my favorite tree and eat apples from my favorite apple tree.

It was my husband, who insisted on the necessity of departure, despite my stubbornness. He urged that he saw no easy solution to the problems emerging in Luhansk. Personally I realized that "it is time to leave" and "everything will be bad" on the day when the military unit was stormed while we were celebrating the anniversary of our Club of child development. #Shooting started, when the cake was brought in the room. There was a terrible panic. We did not really see, but heard everything. Actually, we planned to leave even a week earlier, but decided first to celebrate the anniversary and then go. I resisted to the last, hoping that people would be smart and would not shoot at each other. I thought we were living in completely different time. It’s just some kind of childish naivete... I don’t know how to get rid of it. Maybe, I shouldn’t

For me it’s important to support our children, who see what is happening and do not understand how to behave. To support them, and to explain in simple examples that #Ukraine is the big basket with apples, and each city is a separate apple, it can’t be just thrown away or put back.

I have decided not to think about what is happening in Luhansk now, whom to make friends with and whom not to. I’ve paused the moment of departure. #The war will be over and then you will be able to press "on" and move forward. I am not aware of the conditions other people live in, so I have no right to do other than I do.

At the opening of the exhibition in Lutsk I heard people talking about me, "She’s smiling. She seems to be true Ukrainian. She doesn’t look like Moscovite, though she is from Luhansk.” #It’s such a stereotype that if you’re from Luhansk, it means you’re evil and insincere. There was another stereotype that only men from western Ukraine were fighting in the east. Why should we again be divided into east and west? We are the one nation and are fighting for unity ... and immediately begin to divide into those and others. Another stereotype is that if you are from Luhansk, you "can’t speak Ukrainian", although Ukrainian is my mother tongue. However, in order to understand another person and judge it, you should at least meet with him or her and just talk.

Support is very important at the beginning. It helps in difficult situations. Then you can already move on your own. There will be a person, who needs help more than you. You can’t be always a consumer. #Five hundred people can’t sit on one sympathetic Kyiv or Lutsk resident and say, “you're so good, may you help us all the time.” Of course, he or she will break down! So, if you feel the power, move on. Despite the move to another city, you should go further and help people in difficult situation. It is easy to take, but it’s more interesting to give.

We have several achievements. First, my kids have found friends! Second, our family has found the nerve to help others in their creative development. And again, I’ve started to draw in Lutsk. I have new works, which, in combination with my earlier paintings, made it possible to create the entire exhibition. We had once the book Tree to the Sky. It was my thesis project that was born and developed with the birth and bringing up of my daughter. #A tree is a symbol of our blood, family. We have dug our tree out and moved it to another land, planted and want it to continue growing and bearing fruit. Of course, it’s more difficult to grow after transfer, but sometimes it is difficult to develop for the one, who is in the same conditions because it has been crushed or lacks sun.

The most intimate work for me is Mother. It’s a tree, whose crown is mother's hair, and trunk is her children. I instinctively drew my children. My daughter always asks, "Mom, why dad is not on the picture? Is it you, mother, here?" I told her that father is sometimes at work, although it is about the fact that a woman is sometimes left alone now. It happens so because of various reasons. But she #should understand and believe that she will be able to bring up these children, she will be able to grow on her own, and the tree will grow, being even more beautiful and interesting.

The story of Maryna is presented within the framework of the exhibition "My Place", organized by the Educational Centre "Space of Tolerance" and the Congress of National Communities, supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The authors of the texts are Kyra Kreyderman and Uljana Ustinova. The exhibition’s design and the photos are made by Dana Verstak, some photos were taken from the family archives.