Photo exhibition “Displaced. 12 stories from Ukraine” starts on its second tour of Europe – organizers


Photo exhibition “Displaced. 12 stories from Ukraine” starts on its second European tour. This time the 12 stories of Ukrainian IDPs will be presented in Berlin, The Hague, Rome and Paris. The Berlin exhibition will open on November 4. This was reported by the exhibition organizers at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “It is important that the world hear these stories – about their traumatic experiences, the challenges they faced, and their hope. […] It is an opportunity not only to inform the general public about Ukraine, but also a chance to deepen mutual understanding, a sense of unity and solidarity with those who are in trouble because of the conflict,” said Helen Fazey, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the United Kingdom in Ukraine.

“Displaced. 12 stories from Ukraine” is a striking 12 stories of IDPs from Crimea and Donbas, accompanied by photographs of Sergiy Sakhanov. The exhibition characters were selected through contacts with NGOs helping the internally displaced persons (IDPs). It was first presented in Sofiyska Square in Kyiv last October. Then it visited Rivne, Lutsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Dnipro and Odesa, as well as Brussels and London.

The project was launched by Canadian NGO Stabilization Support Services and the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Ukraine with the support of the British government. “This exhibition allows us to show the true stories of those whose lives underwent dramatic changes because of the war, show whom we help through our programs,” noted Dermot Hamilton, Ukraine Program Director, Stabilization Support Services.

The main idea is to overcome negative stereotypes and deepen understanding

The main idea of the project is to show the conflict in the east through real stories of real people and overcome negative stereotypes of IDPs. “They do not need pity – they are self-sufficient, successful, worthy people who have courage to fight all challenges, like the rest of the people. What they really do not deserve is discrimination,” stressed Olga Ivanova, Ukraine Operations Director, Stabilization Support Services. “It will do people good to see an  IDP character, see what good things they can do for the country, understand that they are not a burden to the state but a potential to reach a new level of development. But in order to use it, we must support them so that these people could integrate into new territorial communities and found themselves in a new life,” said Oleg Peretyaka, project participant, IDP from Luhansk. Olga Ivanova informed that during Ukrainian tour the exhibition initiated the dialogue wherever it was. “People began to speak, recalled stories that they know, and told about displaced persons whom they had met. To some people this gave an opportunity to rethink what is happening, to someone – to contribute to the support,” she informed. Helen Fazey added that one Volhynian impressed by the stories has organized fundraising for the New Year holiday program for 100 displaced children.

The exhibition will highlight the unresolved issues

Oleg Peretyaka expressed hope that the exhibition will help draw the state’s attention to the unresolved problems of displaced people. “We actually do not have the right to vote. There are many housing problems. Some complex programs are adopted on paper, but the state does not allocate funds to create human conditions for displaced people. Many of them are pensioners and disabled; they cannot solve their problems by themselves, – he stressed. He noted that the recent polls have revealed that about 70% of IDPs do not plan to return to their hometowns after the war. That is why a certain strategy and systematic approach to problem solution should be developed.

According to Oleg Peretyaka, in Europe, the exhibition will help dispel the myth about the threat of “refugees from Ukraine,” showing the examples of people who remain in their country and try to begin a new life. Besides, added Serhiy Kostyrskyy, project participant, it will help Europeans understand that the real war is waged in Eastern Europe.

One can track the exhibition movement and related events on Facebook page of the project. There will be life stories of displaced people participating in the project, and everyone can post wishes and words of encouragement. “We have also created a leaflet which will be handed out at the exhibition. All visitors will have an opportunity to write a few kind words to Ukrainians. Then we will bring them to Ukraine and present to the public. Displaced people have to see and feel this; this support is very important for them,” said Agata Heiko, media coordinator, Stabilization Support Services.