Ukrainian Diary: A First Aid Kit and Good Hiking Shoes – Culture
Monday 13 June. I have a long exam, so the day feels utterly unproductive. Towards evening, O. from Mykolaiv thanks them. The package with the tranexamic acid and other things has arrived. And: Her husband M. was drafted. “The mobilization notice was handed to him completely surprisingly, he had just three hours to get ready.” – “Does he have combat experience, was he previously in the military?” I ask. “No,” O. writes back, “this morning I couldn’t have guessed that a few hours later I would be looking for the equipment for my husband. First of all, he will complete a two-week military training course, we don’t know what will happen after that.”
I know there are no words to comfort or soothe O. What I can offer is a first aid kit and good walking shoes if he happens to be the size the last pair of is in S’s office. It was returned today because a colleague didn’t like it. It actually happens to be the size M. I write S., the couple is reserved, please don’t promise anyone else. Tomorrow the things will go to the post office in Mykolayiv.
The holiday camp in the Bukovinian Carpathians is primarily intended for young people from refugee families
Tuesday 14 June. The news of the day is the expected dismissal of the head of the regional military administration. The resolution has been passed in the cabinet and the president still has to sign it. Or not. Beyond the whole problem, the situation also has a very concrete consequence for us: The exit permits for men, which are always valid for one month, will not be extended until further notice, the validity of the current one will be suspended. An investigation is underway. Colleagues S. and W. just submitted their documents for the extension. Now they have to go to the military administrations of other regions or wait. S. is trying it through his academic contacts in Lutsk and Khmelnytskyi, but no one can say whether it will work there and how long it will take.
A happier thing on this day is that we are sending out the application for a small summer camp for youth. A professor at the University of Augsburg, who was born in Chernivtsi and is a co-founder of the German-Ukrainian Dialogue Association, wants to seek funding. O. developed the concept for this with two artist friends. It’s called “Nostos”, which is the Greek word for homecoming. The holiday camp in the Bukovinian Carpathians is primarily intended for young people from refugee families, with art education support they are supposed to deal with the topic of home(coming) and home. We very much hope that the application will be approved.
Wednesday June 15th. Before the next exam starts, I meet A. from Kramatorsk. We arranged a handover – some children’s clothes left over from my niece’s previous shop and some children’s things, she has two sons aged one and a half and five. She tells her story in ten minutes. They too, a Russian-speaking family from the Donetsk region, were victims of “liberation from the Nazis in Kyiv”. Fleeing from the “Russian world,” they went west of all places, where the concentration of these “Nazis” is much greater, and have been living in a village near Chernivtsi since March 8.
Her biggest concern at the moment is her son’s surgery, which was supposed to take place in Cherson, but then the city was occupied
Her biggest concern at the moment is her younger son’s upcoming kidney surgery. Actually, they already had an appointment in April, the surgery was supposed to take place in Cherson, but then the city was occupied. Now they have another doctor in Zhytomyr who can do the operation, hopefully in July. However, it will be expensive, the money they get from the state will probably not be enough. “If you have the cost calculation, let me know, maybe we can at least cover part of the cost,” I say spontaneously. So we remain. The next morning, A. sends a two-page diagnosis as proof of what she told me.
Thursday June 16th. Bloomsday in Dublin and an exam question for my students. James Joyce and his “Ulysses” are among the topics of today’s exam. After six hours I’m done, in every respect. But literature continues to occupy me: I order 21 children’s books from the Czernowitzer Verlag, there is still a little money left from a larger donation from the organization “Schüler Helfen Leben” and because we had several requests for children’s literature, we decide to spend the rest of the money on it. The publishing director sends me a selection of over 40 titles. Some he recommends, others I choose myself.
Friday June 17th. The books will be delivered in the morning. Some of them will even go to Chişinău, where an acquaintance from the Heinrich Böll Foundation looks after refugee families with children from the Ukraine. Now there is still a small amount left to buy books from other publishers. The biggest bookstore, Yakaboo, has a warehouse just outside of town, so we can come by next week and pick up the order. S. will probably have to drive his car for this, but I won’t tell him until Monday.
Read more episodes of this column here.