Hold on to Hope - "No Mas, No More!"


Photo: Time Magazine, Natallie Keyssar


Today is day 46 of the brutal war in the Ukraine. We know from news coverage that unthinkable violations against human rights have occurred. What does that phrase actually mean? Thousands killed brutally, families torn apart, people tortured, raped and executed, bodies lying in the streets. These images are shown over and over again. Over three million people have fled and most are women and children. All too horrific to see. Many turn away, but we must see it, we must feel it, it must be stopped. As one of the soldiers said, "...this isn't a video game!"


In Russia the news is not news, it is propaganda. Anyone who finds the truth and protests is arrested. Those that are not arrested say they have strong views, but must remain silent for fear of reprisals.

Women are playing active role in this war, not as victims, but as resisters, fighters and leaders. Women have always been involved in peacekeeping efforts and as this war continues to ravage innocents, they persist in their efforts. Women make up 10% of the Ukrainian armed forces according to the Christian Science Monitor. MP Oleksandra Ustinova said, "and considering more thatn 122,000 Russian troops are at our borders, the decision seems logical, timely, and sensible."


A woman peace building correspondent from the Ukraine, who must remain anonymous for her safety, says this:


“Local civil society, volunteers and international organisations have combined their efforts to provide support to those displaced or affected by conflict in Ukraine. The war has united society as it never has before. I believe it is all these efforts that will bring peace to Ukraine soon.”


Another women peacekeeper from Peace Direct, Alana Equino, says this:


“For weeks we have watched with horror as this conflict has unfolded. Like many, we have felt helpless as we watched families flee with the few possessions they could carry, hoping to find comfort and welcome in Poland or other neighboring countries.


“The ongoing crisis in Ukraine, as well as Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, coupled with soaring energy and food prices, serve as a reminder of our shared pursuit for peace. As well as the human price, war costs trillions globally, whereas peacebuilding is far more effective and vastly cheaper. At Peace Direct we are reaching out to the local organisations we know are still working in Ukraine, to see how we can support their work at this time. We extend our solidarity to all those affected by violent conflict around the world, regardless of country, ethnicity, race or gender. Do what you can, give what you can, and hold on to hope.”


The following profiles are from UNWomen.org, Women and Girls Lead in the Humanitarian Response to the War in Ukraine.


Photo courtesy of Victoria Osipenko


Victoria Osipenko, Psychologist at the Medical and Psychological Centre for the Bukovina State Medical University in Chernivtsi

“Consultations are now being held by phone in the format of short conversations (interventions) for 10–15 minutes. In a day, our hotline of six psychologists provides support to about 100 people. Women prevail among those who call us for help. Their most frequent inquiries are about their children who are experiencing stress and older parents who have stayed in their homes that are now in areas of active combat. People find our contacts in places of settlement for internally displaced persons. We realized that we could not work like other centres that require various questionnaires and protracted timeframes for response. Our help comes in real-time.”


Photo courtesy of Irina Gontsa


Irina Gontsa, Medical Director for Oncology of the Bukovinian Oncology Centre in Chernivtsi

“We are running out of medicines and drugs for chemotherapy. But we keep providing help. Now, there are about 200 people in the hospital. We treat them according to a simplified treatment protocol, without referring them to family doctors and other healthcare facilities because the situation is extremely hard now. Yesterday a very difficult patient arrived, a 30-year-old woman in serious condition. When the air raid sirens sound, we take everyone on stretchers and carts to the bomb shelter. Who would have thought that we would live in such a time?”


Photo courtesy of Zhanna Korol


Zhanna Korol, volunteer for the NGO Dobrotvorets and NGO Volunteer Movement of Bukovina

“We have been helping the military since 2014. In wartime, volunteers should work with local governments, military administrations and other respective authorities. That is our job – to provide assistance in the epicentre of hell. We work only with proven contacts. We need to know that help will reach exactly those who need it, not get stuck and not stay in warehouses for months. Our aid goes immediately to the front. We have brave and trained people who are not afraid to take the most dangerous routes to help the defenders. In this service, people find their vocation and forget about personal problems. Helping others becomes a powerful motivation for them.”


Photo courtesy of Tonya

T

onya, Deputy Director of Education at the Chernivtsi Polytechnic College and current volunteer coordinator


“I have been volunteering for more than eight years already. As long as my country is in conflict, we will simply expand our activities. Now, 200 people work here at the same time. Elderly women, children – we need everyone. There’s a lot of work and a lot of people are engaged. It is our time to help our boys and girls on the front lines.”


Photo: UN Women/Hanna Hrabarska


Iryna Tsilyk, award-winning filmmaker from Kyiv

“With each kilometre I move farther from Kyiv, I am increasingly covered by a black cloud and a feeling of homelessness and helplessness. It is really painful. It is the hardest time of my life. Only now I have started to understand refugees. When all these people were fleeing from conflict in Donbas back in 2014, of course I had empathy for them – but I have never understood them so deeply as I do now. Yesterday, I saw my son crying because he was chatting with friends with whom we had shared a bomb shelter in Kyiv, and he said: ‘Mama, I want to go back to that shelter. I want to be together with them.’ I understand his feelings because I feel the same. All my friends who had to flee to Western Ukraine or to European countries also feel terrible because it is extremely difficult to leave your friends and family.”

Photo: UN Women/Hanna Hrabarskanues to work with partners to ensure that the specific needs of women and girls – too often ignored in conflict – are being addressed on the ground. This includes assessing their current situation and promoting their right to protection from all forms of gender-based violence, as well as to have a voice in decision-making and humanitarian aid provision"


This song was written at another time, for other atrocities, it certainly applies here, today. "No Mas, No More!!"