I’d like to update you on a project we first told you about here. A music school in the community of Krasnohorivka, on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, is a beacon of safety and hope in the midst of a bitter conflict. Originally an institution for local youth to learn how to play musical instruments, the facility has taken on a much greater meaning in the context of Ukraine’s struggle for peace and freedom.
During the worst of the fighting between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military, this building served as a bomb shelter, providing refuge in its basement for some two dozen men, women and children as shells impacted overhead. The sides of the building and the trees on the grounds are still pocked with shrapnel.
The building itself suffered significant damage. Between the fighting and a lack of resources to conduct routine maintenance, the roof, windows, and doors have all deteriorated to a point where wind, rain, and snow permeate the school, rendering it a cold, wet place, a shell of its former self.
Yet, the teachers and students continue to create beautiful music, indomitable in the face of difficult circumstances. When Jim and I visited at the height of the winter, with temperatures inside barely warmer than the frigid conditions outside, the headmistress and one of her assistants played a piano duet that could not help but move both us as well as the Ukrainian soldiers escorting us.
The Ukrainian soldiers, introduced to us by officials from the US Embassy, brought us to this location because of the powerful symbol of hope it represented. The people of Krasnohorivka, stranded in the middle of a terrible fight, look to the music school for scant respite from the conflict. But, due to the condition of the facility, that hope was in danger. Without badly needed repairs, the school would be condemned.
Accordingly, Spirit of America funded basic repairs needed to keep the music school going. We’re covering the costs of new doors, windows, and repairs to the roof, all in cooperation with the Ukrainian military unit tasked with conducting outreach to this vulnerable community. In a conflict where Russian and separatist propaganda has sought to drive a wedge between Ukraine and the population in its eastern provinces, we’re helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces show that actions speak louder than words, that they – and the West – are committed to meeting the needs of their citizens. This is a powerful message, and one that cannot be undermined by propaganda.
The repairs to the windows and doors were recently completed, and the roof repairs are underway currently. In gratitude for hard work and dedication of the Ukrainian military team, as well as the generosity of Spirit of America and its donors, the school’s headmistress wrote the following:
The administration, teachers, students, and the students’ parents of the Krasnohorivka music school in Donetsk are very grateful to Spirit of America for your help in restoring our building. Thanks to your help and the help of the Civil-Military Cooperation unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the windows and entryway to our building have been replaced.
We still remember our meetings – they are unforgettable. And now, looking at the new windows and door, we understand that a part of you will be with us forever.
Thank you once again for your trust and courage, for this wonderful gift to the children of Krasnohorivka. We hope to see you again!
We’ll bring you more updates on this project soon, but as you can tell, your support is having a true impact on people stuck in the midst of a tough conflict. It’s addressing a critical need, and it’s helping demonstrate the commitment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the West, and the United States to the people of eastern Ukraine.
If you haven’t gotten involved yet and would like to, make sure to visit the project page here.
Field Ops Director