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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Ukraine Today

International Adoption

As with many countries, child abandonment in Ukraine is a serious issue with many children all over the country ending up in children's homes. National adoption is always the tirst choice, but, even with a large number of families in the country looking to adopt, many kids, especially older ones, are left behind. International adoption is often the last chance for these children to have a happy family life,
Last year, Yuri Pavlenko, then minister for the Department of Family and "Vbuth stated at a press conference that 1,419 Ukrainian children were adopted nationally, and 2,156 internationally in the year 2005. Due to a perceived lack of control, Ukraine closed to international adoption for most of 2006, but opened once more at the beginning of this year.

 The priority, of course, is always to pair a Ukrainian child with a Ukrainian family, and once children appear on the adoption register only Ukrainian parents can adopt them for a period of 14 months. However, many children are still on the register at the end of this period for two main reasons. Firstly, Ukrainian parents have the choice to adopt or foster a child. Foster parents receive financial and social support from the state, and, while fostering, the child remains officially an orphan and therefore entitled to benefits such as free university education. If the foster parents adopt the child then all these benefits are lost. Secondly, there is still a stigma associated with adoption in Ukraine and so many parents looking to adopt want a very young child. The procedures for foreign nationals adopting Ukrainian children are complicated and strict, and there is a massive number of international agencies helping prospective parents through the process. To give some idea of the scale of the issue, there are 17 adoption authorized bodies from Italy alone working in Ukraine. Amici dei Bambini (Friends of the Children) is one of them.

 The organisation works on the principle that every child has the right to live in a family and grow up in a family environment.

 A mici dei Bambini, an NGO, was formed 21 years ago by a group of parents who had adopted both in Italy and abroad. Since then the organisation has grown into an international NGO working in 24 countries throughout the world whose main aim is to fight against child abandonment. The organisation works on the principle that every child has the right to live in a family and grow up in a family environment, and to this end it has four main aims in every coun try in which it operates. Firstly, Amici dei Bambini looks to prevent child abandonment by providing social and financial assistance to families in trouble such as helping them find housing and work, and setting up maternal centres to help single mothers. Secondly the organisation tries to re-integrate abandoned children back into the family, often looking to grandparents and aunts and uncles. Thirdly Amici dei Bambini encourages and promotes national adoption,and the last resort option is to find the children a new home with an Italian family. Barbara Taccini, Country Coordinator for Ukraine with Amici dei Bambini has been in Ukraine since November 2006 having previously worked in Italy, Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania. "There are a number of issues when it comes to foreign nationals adopting in Ukraine," she explains. 'The bureaucratic procedures are complicated and can take a long time. It is our job to make the process run as smoothly as possible."

 All prospective international adopting parents must submit a dossier to the Department of Adoption and Protection of Children's Rights. Then they have a lengthy wait to find out if their application is successful. If it is, then the department matches them with a child. Due to the 14 month rule on national adoption, nearly all children eligible for international adoption are over 5 years old, and this is something the parents need to be aware of, according to Barbara. "Once their application has been approved, they come to Ukraine and are shown some photographs and given some background information on the child they have been paired with. This will be the very first time they learn anything about the child such as age and sex. After this, if they are willing, they travel to the children's home to meet that child." The rights of the child always come first, and therefore it is very important that the parents are made fully aware of all the implications of the process. A child is often told by the head of the children's home that the people he or she is about to meet is their future parents, but even if they are not told this it is an obvious assumption they would make. Therefore it is very important that the parents are ready and are not going to reject the child, the effect of which could be catastrophic. "We provide a two day course for all parents looking to adopt children from abroad. In this course we help them to confront the reality of the situation they are about to face. It is tough, and on average only 3 couples out of ten go forward with us" says Barbara. "This is especially important here in Ukraine when the time between finding out the basic information on the child and meeting them is so short." One Italian couple who has made it through the lengthy process is Monica Bonino and Cristian Zorzan who have recently adopted Igor. Monica Bonino and Cristian Zorzan's story is a typical, one. They hosted a child from Ukraine for holidays and it was this experience that aroused their interest in the country. The process has taken four long years, and it has been four years of waiting, according to Monica. "The procedure is long and exhausting with lots of forms to fill in and very long periods of waiting especially when last year Ukraine closed to international adoption," she says. Igor is 8, and they saw him the day after they were shown his photographs. "When we first came to Ukraine knowing we had been matched with a child we felt more excited than anxious, but when we went to the department and got his information and saw his photos the reality of the situation hit home; to see this boy and know he was going to be our son was a very big thing to take in." explains Monica. Luckily, they didn't have much time to dwell on it as they met with Igor the very next day. "Igor treated us like his parents immediately, and we instantly felt like he was our son. It was surprisingly natural," Cristian says. The family admits that real life won't begin until they are back in Italy, but to see them together you wouldn't know this family is only a week or two old: they look as if they have been together all their lives.

 'To see this boy and know he was going to be our son was a very big thing to take in."

 Neil Campbell

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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