Rebuilding hope on the frontlines in Ukraine
Russian-backed separatists have been trying to divide Ukraine for the past two years. The Crimean peninsula has already been annexed by Russia, and the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk remain hotly contested. The Ukrainian armed forces, with support from the West, are trying to unify their country, but conflict still rages.
Local civilians are caught in the middle of this fight, and the separatists are trying to demonstrate the Ukrainian government cannot attend to the needs of its people. However, the Ukrainian military is providing a powerful counter to this narrative. The Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) element – the Ukrainian version of US civil affairs – is leading the way in this regard, providing much-needed humanitarian assistance and support to communities who have literally been split in half by the frontlines of this conflict.
One community where CIMIC has particularly focused its efforts is Krasnahorivka, a small town in the midst of the warzone subject to indiscriminate separatist shelling. At one point, its inhabitants were forced to seek cover in the basement of the local music school for months as shells fell around them. This building, shell-marked though it is, is now a powerful symbol of hope for the community, not only for the protection it afforded but also for the hope it imbues upon locals in a time of great hardship. The town’s children still flock to it to learn to play from the school’s indomitable director, Ina. They then give concerts to local communities, providing a few hours of escapist pleasure to distract from the war happening all around them.
Important though this and the relationships with the local population CIMIC’s support has developed are, years of shelling have taken a toll on the building itself. Absent basic repairs – a new roof and windows – the school will have to close. With your help, Spirit of America can solve this problem and ensure this important facility keeps its doors open, providing music and hope in spite of the conflict all around it.