PHOTOGRAPHY
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Here We Survive - The Women of Ukraine's Forgotten War

Although officially there is a Minsk protocol attempting to stop fightings in East of Ukraine, the war rages as ever. Around seven people die every day, the economical situation continues to worsen, people are forced to leave their homes. The country is torn apart. 

When talking about war in private, in politics and in public, the focus is usually on the man. Male soldiers, heroes, fighters. Courage, strength and heroism are traditionally associated with male attributes. The traditional female role instead is set aside, keeps being displaced from the public into the private, domestic sphere. The same is just happening in the current Ukrainian war.  What is behind the curtains of the public stage? How does the Ukrainian woman feel? What is her role in the war? And which kind of difficulties does she face? We set out to have a look behind the scenes of the Ukrainian conflict, to illuminate the female side.

This project was realized together with my friend and colleague Lisa Hermes www.lisahermes.de

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  “We always knew in advance when a shelling was imminent because our cat Ryzhik would always run under the bed a few minutes before. We were holding each other shivering and praying.”

“We always knew in advance when a shelling was imminent because our cat Ryzhik would always run under the bed a few minutes before. We were holding each other shivering and praying.”

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  “It is three months now that Roma passed away. After Roma‘s death all the pity to the other side had gone. My daughter Oksana is the only hope and joy which is left for me.“

“It is three months now that Roma passed away. After Roma‘s death all the pity to the other side had gone. My daughter Oksana is the only hope and joy which is left for me.“

 As a result of shelling on the 24th of May the psychological clinic in Semenovka (part of Sloviansk) was heavily damaged.

As a result of shelling on the 24th of May the psychological clinic in Semenovka (part of Sloviansk) was heavily damaged.

  “Donbass won’t be conquered. Our people stood up and said we won’t allow Kyiv junta to suppress us. Why should I quit speaking Russian, my mother tongue? Only for that threats we could rip their jaws.“

“Donbass won’t be conquered. Our people stood up and said we won’t allow Kyiv junta to suppress us. Why should I quit speaking Russian, my mother tongue? Only for that threats we could rip their jaws.“

  „If I didn’t have a son, I would be already fighting among the militias for my Donbass"    

„If I didn’t have a son, I would be already fighting among the militias for my Donbass"

 

  “I didn’t know how to cope with his death. I started baking cakes like mad, but it didn’t help. When I heard from a friend that he joined a volunteer battalion to fight against separatists, I finally knew what to do.”

“I didn’t know how to cope with his death. I started baking cakes like mad, but it didn’t help. When I heard from a friend that he joined a volunteer battalion to fight against separatists, I finally knew what to do.”

 Nina‘s sister and her husband passed away due to stress and everyday fear during the war. The family lived in Semenovka, a village which suffered a siege in May 2014.

Nina‘s sister and her husband passed away due to stress and everyday fear during the war. The family lived in Semenovka, a village which suffered a siege in May 2014.

 Because of the lack of space, the bed is used as a table during the day. Alla (55) and her daughter Ljuba (32) and a granddaughter Margarita (14) are living in a 13 square meters room provided for IDP’s by the government.

Because of the lack of space, the bed is used as a table during the day. Alla (55) and her daughter Ljuba (32) and a granddaughter Margarita (14) are living in a 13 square meters room provided for IDP’s by the government.

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    “In fact, I receive only 800 Hryvnia for my baby a month. And I need to send money to my husband because he lost his job. So I must work and carry my 6 months old Sofa with me all the time when I show a fat for rent for a client”.

“In fact, I receive only 800 Hryvnia for my baby a month. And I need to send money to my husband because he lost his job. So I must work and carry my 6 months old Sofa with me all the time when I show a fat for rent for a client”.

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 One of the volunteer initiatives in Dnipro (which borders with Donbass) is a special room for commuting soldiers in the train station, open 24/7. Ladies serve tea and snacks, chat and make soldiers feel a bit more like home during long waiting hours.

One of the volunteer initiatives in Dnipro (which borders with Donbass) is a special room for commuting soldiers in the train station, open 24/7. Ladies serve tea and snacks, chat and make soldiers feel a bit more like home during long waiting hours.

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 Sosnovy bor, a sanatorium where IDPs from Donbass are temporary placed. The inhabitants put plastic covers over their balconies, fearing that their clothes would be stolen.

Sosnovy bor, a sanatorium where IDPs from Donbass are temporary placed. The inhabitants put plastic covers over their balconies, fearing that their clothes would be stolen.

  “We were trapped between the pro-Russian militants and the Ukrainian army – we were like between the sky and the ground. The bullets were raining through the yard. And we were at home lying on the floor and were afraid to stand up for hours. I wasn’t afraid to die, I am more afraid of spiders.”

“We were trapped between the pro-Russian militants and the Ukrainian army – we were like between the sky and the ground. The bullets were raining through the yard. And we were at home lying on the floor and were afraid to stand up for hours. I wasn’t afraid to die, I am more afraid of spiders.”

 Tanya moved to the former room of her grandmother. The old lady couldn’t stand living there anymore after the loss of her husband, who didn’t survive the tension of the war. Tanya is still positive: “Only two rooms were destroyed in the flat. Well, the kitchen, corridor and the toilet stayed untouched. We restored it with the help of the whole family and friends - not a big deal when you have such a big positive family.”

Tanya moved to the former room of her grandmother. The old lady couldn’t stand living there anymore after the loss of her husband, who didn’t survive the tension of the war. Tanya is still positive: “Only two rooms were destroyed in the flat. Well, the kitchen, corridor and the toilet stayed untouched. We restored it with the help of the whole family and friends - not a big deal when you have such a big positive family.”

  “Through my income of this work, I can support the studies of my sons. But it’s also great fun here. In contrast to my marriage, I can now live more independent and at least experience something.”

“Through my income of this work, I can support the studies of my sons. But it’s also great fun here. In contrast to my marriage, I can now live more independent and at least experience something.”