Tag Archives: Eastern European photography

This is how you care for stray pets as your city is shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. A testimony by animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Ukraine

From December 2014 till end of March 2015, working in the climate of increasing geopolitical tensions and worsening economic conditions Droog, an animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine, provided with shelter and returned to their families 200 dogs and 234 cats. On February 10, 2015 Kramatorsk was shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. Droog persisted undeterred with their mission.

The charitable fund was created in January 2008, with the active phase of operations staring in 2011. The first sterilization took place on April 19, 2012. That same year the total number of sterilized animals reached 115. From April 2013 till April 2014 the number grew to 181. Starting from end of April 2014 till now — a period when Eastern Ukraine saw the intensification of pro-Russian warfare — a total of 360 animals were sterilized.

Alexey Holub, a lawyer with the Droog (БФ “Друг”) charity explains:

Research conducted by scientists in Russia and Western Europe proves that sterilization is the only effective way to decrease — and eventually bring to zero — the number of homeless animals on our streets. All other methods like poisoning and shooting are inhumane, illegal and ineffective. The effect delivered by such ‘solutions’ is illusionary and short-term.

Droog’s volunteers found families for 900 cats and 750 dogs from January 2013 till December 2014.

Emergency rescue operations are not rare in their day-to-day work. They pick up the animals that became road traffic casualties, extract those animals that happened into the carelessly open manholes, got themselves on the roofs, high trees.

A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
As part of Droog’s awareness raising and behaviour change campaign, the charity is making its presence felt on the locally popular social media like Vkontakte (almost 5,000 members) and Odnoklassniki (almost 3,000 members).

Alexey Holub adds:

Our volunteers organized a number of public events to raise awareness about sterilization, adopting animals and thus taking them off the streets. Parallel to talking to the residents and distributing fliers, we held a number of charity auctions. The lots for those were hand-made by our volunteers.

Droog is no stranger to the local mass media either. Publications in such local newspapers as Vostochnyy Proekt, Tekhnopolis and Novosti Kramatorska are accompanied by billboard ads throughout the city. Numerous times, Droog reached out to school-age kids with goodwill classes for the 22nd school students; at New Year’s Eve galas in downtown Kramatorsk and in the city suburbs, to name just a few events.

Supported by active residents and institutional partners we held several larger events. On May 30, 2013 the Donbass State Engineering Academy (“ДГМА”) hosted our charitable event to raise awareness among college students about cruelty against animals in Kramatorsk. The students and faculty of the Academy signed an appeal to the mayor advocating for the creation of a centralized animal shelter in Kramatorsk. Our volunteers used the occasion to distribute fliers and solicit donations.

Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Surely much more needs to be done to reach significant results in decreasing the number of homeless animals while practicing humane methods. It’s doable once we join our efforts. With support from overseas donors we are readying a facility for the Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre.

The following activities are to take place in the Centre:

  • The ongoing Catch, Sterilize, Release work. We are currently in talks with the veterinarians in Kramatorsk to increase the number of surgeries. We aim at  a minimum of 30 sterilization surgeries per month (360 per year). All of the animals that undergo surgery will be marked accordingly with bright clips on the ears. These animals will also be vaccinated (including vaccination against rabies) and treated against parasites, which will defuse the risks posed to the people.
  • We will partner with an international charity Four Pаws. This NGO engages in mass sterilizations if there is a city-wide centre for homeless animals and if they receive an official confirmation by the local authorities of the official ban on homeless animal extermination across the municipality. Back in 2012 Droog staff were trained by the Four Paws on the issues of mass sterilization and received a preliminary confirmation of their vets’ interest to come to Eastern Ukraine.
  • Droog will continue to seek partnerships with other animal welfare charities in Ukraine to join efforts to improve the existing legislation regarding homeless animal protection.
  • The Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre will be a great place to visualize Droog’s work for the welfare of the people and our four-pawed friends through monthly visits by groups of the youths, local and national media practitioners.
Our goal is to take homeless animals off the streets of Kramatorsk in a compassionate way while securing the residents from all the usual problems caused by homeless animals.

Our additional goal is to educate a new generation of people that are free from violence, a compassionate generation, empathetic with the weak, acting with responsibility towards animals. And certainly other human beings.

“We believe these are inalienable features of a developed society that Ukrainians aspire to be,” concludes Kramatorsk lawyer Alexey Holub.

He can be reached at patronat2009@yandex.ru


Resilience built by solution reporting to defuse Smerch cluster missile attacks on survival-savvy Ukrainians, save lives globally long-term

This week we were “utterly shocked” by the absence of cluster munition survival videos on the web. Check Google, YouTube. All you can get out of those communications is the utter shock of mutilation, death and devastation the murderers take pleasure in leaving you with. Georgia, Syria, now Ukraine.

Alright, shocked and killed we can easily be by just stepping out on the street. That’s not what we expect from the world wide web, folks! We look for life-saving information, we seek solutions to the problem.

Alright, shocked and killed we can easily be by just stepping out on the street. That's not what we expect from the world wide web, folks! We look for life-saving information, we seek solutions to a problem.
Alright, shocked and killed we can easily be by just stepping out on the street. That’s not what we expect from the world wide web, folks! We look for life-saving information, we seek solutions to the problem.

Staying resilient in the face of unexpected 300 mm missile attacks is as good a problem as washing your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. So why are we flooded by video tutorials about the latter and lack the solution basics of the former?

As our town of Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine was shelled by heavy weaponry earlier this week, we wondered what the public security experience will be for those who survive the deadly attack by Smerch BM30 rockets. And — here and now — should we really care who launched them as long as we know how to dodge them?!

Okay, let the Kyiv- and New York-based journos speculate about geopolitics. From the safety of their homes.

Most messages beamed by the mainstream based-not-in-Kramatorsk media just drummed up the confrontation tune highlighting the — otherwise important facts that — cluster munitions are banned under international law and that Ukraine was shocked by the attack on a community “some 50 km behind Ukrainian lines and [thus] considered relatively safe before the attack.”

Some bits of life-granting solution communication came from the Governor of Donetsk Oblast Oleksandr Kikhtenko. At a press conference hours after the attack, he shed some light on the mechanics and electronics behind the killing power of 300 mm missiles — sure we all wish we knew that information much earlier; and the media is to still stamp the survival drill into our minds.

Some kudos also go to the Odesa Oblast Administration (Southern Ukraine) and the local news outlet here in Kramatorsk named Vostochnyy Proekt for sharing these bomb survival videos:

Ukrainians come out of the cluster munition attacks more resilient, survival tactics savvy
Ukrainians come out of the cluster munition attacks more resilient, survival tactics savvy

Sure thing, Ukrainians start to come out of the cluster munition attacks more resilient, survival tactics savvy. But like in any awareness raising/behavior change campaign having the right communication tools is as important as repeating the vital message a quadrillion times.

Problem reporting is so analog age. In the digital 21st century let’s finally start to think and communicate solutions, not just problems.

To our global reader out there, next time you are “utterly shocked” and think of launching a Twitter campaign — think @clusterbombsurvival not just @banclustermunition.

These are your Creative Slavs in Africa: from Ukrainian wife of Swazi king’s chef du protocole to Polish pilot in Russian Emperor’s air force

As our news screens beam out feeds about Miss South Africa Rolene Strauss taking the Miss World 2014 crown, we’d like to draw your attention to some Slav Africans gracing the podiums both in London and internationally. Plus a Russian Empire-born pioneering photographer of Central African peoples.

Representing the African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe at this year’s Miss World pageant was Djeissica Barbosa, daughter of a Ukrainian mother and São Tomean father.

Djeissica Barbosa in Angola's capital Luanda in 2014 (Photo from Ms Barbosa's Facebook page)
Djeissica Barbosa in Angola’s capital Luanda in 2014 (Photo from Ms Barbosa’s Facebook page)

 Djeissica Barbosa, filha de mãe ucraniana e de pai santomense, é o que se pode dizer uma mulata linda, esbelta, formosa e  tão doce como o mel:   olhos nos quais parece ressaltar o brilho das alvas e cintilantes estepes ucranianas

Some 4,000 km southeast of the Portuguese-speaking islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, internal designer Olena Dlamini of Ukraine has been calling Swaziland’s capital Mbabane her home for quite some time now. It was in 1987 — 48 years after the red Karelian stone statue of Lenin was displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and 26 years before it was toppled during last year’s Euromaidan protests — that Olena met her future husband Felizwe Dlamini, then student of international law at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. By then, the larger-than-life-size statue — made of the same material as the communist leader’s mausoleum in Moscow — had been in the university’s main campus vicinity for some 40 years already.

After a stint at the Embassy of Swaziland in South Korea, Mr Dlamini was accompanied by his Ukrainian wife back to Swaziland in the year 2000.  This is  when he became responsible for the agenda of King Mswati III. As of March 2007, Olena Dlamini ran an internal design company Ramashka (‘Camomile’ in Russian).

Some 150 southwest of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and 34 years before the 1917 Bolshevik revolution,  Kazimierz Zagórski is born to the Polish  noble Clan of Ostoja. Legend holds that Zhytomyr, the birthplace of this pioneering photographer of Central African peoples and customs, was around for 997 years when the famous Welsh journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley established what is now DRC’s capital Kinshasa and named it Léopoldville in honor of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Gallicizing his name to Casimir Zagourski, former Imperial Russian Air Force serviceman — and later a Lieutenant Colonel in the Polish army’s fight with the Bolsheviks — arrives in Leopoldville in December 1924 to soon become a leading photographer in the Belgian colony.

Casimir Zagourski in his studio in Kinshasa, 1925 (Source: Kosubaawate.blogspot.com)
Casimir Zagourski in his studio in Kinshasa, 1925 (Source: Kosubaawate.blogspot.com)

The local agent for Agfa film products, Zagourski produced a series of post-card images of Leopoldville in the 1920s and was invited to cover the visit of King Albert and Queen Elisabeth to the colony in 1928.

Back to Ukraine by way of Ghana, designer Beatrice Arthur — born in Odessa, when this major port city was part of Soviet Ukraine; with Russian, Polish, German and Ghanaian roots — is behind the label named B’ExotiQ.

Odesa-born designer Beatrice Arthur of Ghana
Odesa-born designer Beatrice Arthur of Ghana

After acquiring a BA in Spanish Literature, Linguistics and Sociology at the University of Ghana in 2000, Bee Arthur shocked the African Fashion scene by participating and winning the Kora Fashion Award at Sun City [northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa] in 2001. Bee was one of the designers that in 2006 were called upon by USAID to support a project that aimed to take young girls off the streets of Northern Ghana by involving them in sustainable income projects

The wife of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan owns her creations.

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Social documentary film-makers and activists ask why this EU aspiring nation is blind to the visually impaired on the streets and rivers of Ukraine

by Andy Kozlov @KozlovAndy

Aleksey Shott and Nastya Berg contributed to this story

Donald Kaberuka @DonaldKaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, began his recent speech at the Center for Global Development,  by quoting American business magnate, politician, and philanthropist Michael Rubens Bloomberg :

In God we trust, everyone else bring data

Embarking on a social documentary project, a creative team of social activists needs to always be reminded that if it can’t be measured it cannot be done. Ukraine’s film-makers Sergey Volkov, Maxim Rudenko and expereinced social activists Julie Sachuk and Denis Petrov know their numbers well.

About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. About 90 % of those affected live in developing countries. Preventable causes are as high as 80 % of the total global visual impairment burden.

Всматриваясь во тьму is a topical film. Armed conflict, European values, society in rapid transformation, human resilience. These are some of the burning — and relevant internationally — issues the Ukrainian producers (and their international partners like the Baltic to Black Sea Documentary Network) put into the same sentence with word “Ukraine”.

For some people, the acronym УТОС (the Ukrainian Association of the Blind) does not ring any bells. But for many on the contrary, these four letters mean a lot. Despite the fact that this organization caters to many Ukrainians, sometimes they catch themselves thinking that they live in a country of their own, an absolutely isolated country. In that imaginary country, their problems remain unnoticed and conveniently ignored, as if in the real-world Ukraine there is no visual impairment burden at all. At times, it looks like the rest of the “healthy” people in Ukraine became blind.

Launched in 1933, the UTOS network of socially-minded enterprises has seen little innovation since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Short on government support in a turmoil that is Ukraine these days, uncompetitive production lines of polymed garden equipment and low-voltage electrical products find it difficult to survive.  Daily media reports of battleground losses in the east of the country make the problems faced by visually impaired people invisible to the mainstream media.

Denis Petrov, the protagonist of Всматриваясь во тьму, lost his sight when he was a child. He now helps a battle-damaged soldier to survive the obscurity of life in Ukraine.

Eye-opening facts about visual impairment (Data visualization by Orbis, an international NGO dedicated to saving sight worldwide)
Eye-opening facts about visual impairment (Data visualization by Orbis, an international NGO dedicated to saving sight worldwide)

Denis is a university graduate, fluent in foreign languages. He freelances online and gets good money for what he does. His new friend Dmitriy lost his sight defending Ukraine. Dmitriy now believes there is no life after tomorrow. He needs to learn a lot to continue living in a society that is blind to people like him.

What does future hold for Dmitry and Ukraine? — ask the creators of Всматриваясь во тьму

Film director Sergey Volkov and cinematographer Maxim Rudenko explain:

We have secured support from УкрКіноХроніка [a Kyiv-based state-run documentary film studio]. Their director Natalia Anatolievna Shevchukis personally enthusiastice about the project.

Amplified by insights from social practitioners like Julie Sachuk — who has experience of work for Amnesty International, — the team behind Всматриваясь во тьму is confident of being able to roll out a proper campaign, uphold the rights of the visually impaired in Ukraine, as the Eastern European country transforms into a nation of people which are not blind to their neighbours’ problems.

Andy Kozlov can be reached on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

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