Date: June 15th, 7-10 pm EST
Address: 233 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 (Consulate General of the Republic of Poland)
A year and a half of a full-scale war. More than nine years of Russian invasion. Four centuries of continuous attempts by the Russian empire to erase Ukrainian identity. From prohibitions of the Ukrainian language to burning books and killing writers and artists, Russia is attempting to destroy Ukrainian culture. Yet, today Ukraine stands and fights – not only for itself but for international law and prosperity.
“Putin’s actions bear a striking resemblance to those of previous dictators, from Hitler to Stalin. They all aim to deprive the occupied territories of their national identity by erasing their culture,” tells Tomasz Grzywaczewski, whose film “Erase the Nation”, uncovering Russia’s methodical attempts to wipe out Ukraine’s national identity and culture, will be presented at the Evening.
The Ukrainian army now numbers more than a million people, most of them volunteers. Many more millions support the army – even those who were forced to flee and lost their homes. Over three million people remain under Russian occupation but keep Ukraine in their hearts and Ukrainian flags in secret hideouts.
Svidok.org (‘witness’ in Ukrainian) collects the stories of Ukrainians who tell about their experiences, losses and coping strategies. Many are children and teenagers, sharing their fears and perseverance, in a harrowing mirror of Anne Frank’s diary from World War II. Others are young mothers giving birth to new life amid the death and destruction of war. Some recount their attempts to keep their life going despite knowing that every minute can become the last one.
“May 2023 in Kyiv. We did not sleep for almost a month due to constant air raids at night, and during the day we desperately tried to live and continue to work. Perhaps, this is one of the most sophisticated tortures – chronic sleep deprivation mixed with constant stress, fear, grief and murder. One night I was so exhausted that sirens and air raid alerts did not manage to wake me, I didn’t even hear air defence explosions. I woke up from the vibration – missiles flew over my house one after another. Exhausted, I just rolled off the bed onto the floor, face down and blanket on top, I slept amidst the explosions. Naively hoping that the space between the wall and the bed will save me. A few hours later, the alarm clock rang – a morning appointment with a cosmetologist. Yes, this is a desperate attempt to cling to a normal life in abnormal conditions.”
Some day these stories may become parts of books, movies, artworks or even operas. But today Ukrainians need help to win the war and to start rebuilding their country. An Evening to Defend Ukraine’s Cultural Heritage will auction Ukrainian artworks – original paintings by renowned Ukrainian-American artists including Leonid Gervits and Christina Saj, hand-made centrepiece tapestries, and wartime art created from artifacts refurbished from the battlefield. The money raised will support expansion of the Svidok initiative and provide critical medicine to Ukraine’s frontline cities. Some of the artworks are already sold at the online auction: https://go.rallyup.com/ukraine-culture.
“The goal of Svidok is to capture Ukrainians’ lived experiences of the war. We collaborate with the International Criminal Court and the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine to share evidence of war crimes. But just as importantly, we offer a safe space for Ukrainians to record their feelings and experiences. Some share personal tragedies, some offer stories of resilience, and some even write poetry from occupation. We believe that every Ukrainian has a voice and a story worth sharing,” says Anastassia Fedyk, the organizer of the evening.
The event is co-organized by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York and will feature remarks from the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.
Social media hashtags: #UkraineUnderAttack #StandWithUkraine #UkrainianCulture
About the AI for Good Foundation: Empower Ukraine is an initiative of the AI for Good Foundation (a US-based 501(c)(3)) and its Ukrainian branch, the My Syla Charitable Foundation. Together, we support economic and community resilience in Ukraine, protect cultural heritage, support war crimes investigations, develop sanctions recommendations for allied governments, and reimagine the future of Ukraine for Ukrainians, today. The AI for Good Foundation is active around the world, building economic and community resilience through technology, putting humans first, and helping governments and civil society to effectively navigate the accelerating tides of emerging technologies. Find out more at https://ai4good.org/ukraine.