Just two stories from Ukraine

Back in March, I brought a daily diary, by Yevgenia Belorusets from Kyiv to your attention.  It went silent nearly two weeks ago.  But news from Ukraine is unremitting, and none of it good. 

I thought it would be good to remember that Ukrainians are so much more than victims, and fighters for their country.  They have towns, cities and countryside that are important to them.  They have a cultural life that mustn’t be extinguished.  Here are two stories to remind us of that.  The first is from the Guardian’s Country Diary last week.  Here, Olexandr Ruchko describes the annual arrival of the storks to his homeland.

This stork is in Spain.  But his cousins are now in Ukraine.

The next is about a children’s choir, the Shchedryk Children’s Choir, Kyiv.

Do have a look at their website, and listen to the two pieces you’ll find there.  They’d like you to share this site, and share it again, so their music continues to live on, even though the choir members are scattered: https://choiroftheearth.com/shchedryk-childrens-choir-kyiv

Many of you, by ‘liking’ a previous post, enabled me to give a donation to World Central Kitchens, which works in Ukraine and disaster zones throughout the world. Here‘s a link, in case you too are interested in donating.

My header image recalls the Ukrainian flag.  Though this image was taken in North Yorkshire, it reminds us that Ukraine is, in normal times, the Breadbasket of Europe.

As it happens, Brian Butler, in his engaging Travel Between the Pages blog, features today a short video of Kyiv, as it experienced a normal day, only last summer. You can view it here.

A Daily Diary from Ukraine

News from Ukraine continues to be dismal. But book blogger, Clare from Word by Word wrote the other day about a daily diary she follows, written in Kyiv by Ukrainian author Yevgenia Belorusets. I too can recommend her very moving observations and pictures to you. Here’s an extract from yesterday’s entry:

In front of the ruins yesterday, among shattered glass, deformed scraps of metal, and pieces of the roof, I met a woman: an elderly lady who was looking for cigarettes. The kiosk where she bought them every day was so badly damaged that there were no windows or even doors anymore. The salesmen themselves were no longer around; the cigarettes lay unprotected in the shop window. The lady was asking everyone where to get a pack nearby. I suggested she leave the money in the shop window and take the pack, as a kind of self-service. Then I asked her why she decided to stay in Kyiv during these uncertain times.

She told me that her mother, who turned 100 three months ago, died this past week. In the war’s early days, it was unimaginable that she and her husband would leave the city. Now she was simply here. Maybe she would stay. Her eyes were shining; she even looked a little happy.

She was a mathematician, a scientist who came to Kyiv from Murmansk as a child. With many quips, she told me the tangled story of her family, saved time and again from war, hunger, and Stalin’s repressions. She spoke melodically and with a delicate touch, as if the words of the narrative had bound themselves together beforehand, only wanting for a listener. Despite her age, there was something young about her face, and she moved quickly and gracefully among stones and splinters. Our conversation didn’t last long, but I keep thinking back to it. Sometimes in war you have the feeling that you don’t want to lose other people, even after fleeting encounters. And now that I’ve described that meeting, I feel I did something to hold onto it. 

The air-raid alarm doesn’t sound for the moment. We are safe. During the curfew, authorities recommend darkening the windows and turning on the lights as sparingly as possible. The streets are absolutely empty, and the houses look abandoned. It is a relief to think that at least these houses are not in danger right now as they try with all their might to mask the lives of their inhabitants, to make them invisible.

You can find her posts, and sign up for daily updates here.

Kyiv in happier times: Nana Lapushkina, Pexels

Bookstack Challenge

This is an idea from Rebecca, of BookishBeck fame, who’s built a #Solidarity Stack of books, which you can read about here. Like her, I’ve used books from my shelves to tell something of the story of the disaster unfolding in Ukraine through their titles: in this case, the contents are irrelevant.

We can do so little. Many of us have already donated to Aid Agencies. But another Rebecca, blogging as Fake Flamenco drew another charity to my attention: World Central Kitchen: Chefs for Ukraine are providing hot nourishing meals to those in flight: and other chefs, in other places torn apart by war or natural disaster, undertake similar work. Sadly, Ukraine is not alone in continuing to face catastrophe. For every ‘like’ this post receives I’ll donate 0.50 to this charity. I’m hoping for lots and lots of ‘likes’!

It’s beyond imagining. But in the short term, every refugee is taking the journey shown in my next pile, and hoping to find safety and a place of Sanctuary: the bottom book in my pile.

Maybe you could join in this challenge with your own book stack, and attract ‘likes’ in your turn? Let’s do it!