#FundReise Day 5 – Kyiv

06.12.2022 | cb — No comments

She doesn’t want to just watch anymore. Sibylle, co-founder of Munich Kyiv Queer, is travelling to Kyiv. She visits our friends and partners, writes a blog and collects donations. On her first day to Kyiv, she experiences a huge air alert. She wrote this text in the metro, whose low-lying stations serve as shelters for people.

Electricity: 20 out of 24 hours
Temperature: minus 7 degrees, inside: plus 19
Donation barometer: 1,641.51 out of 18,000 euros
Special events: Normality, supposed to be
All blog posts: Sibylle’s #FundReise to Kyiv in the midst of war

On Sunday, I travelled by train from Przemysl to Kyiv. It was an emotional moment when the custom officer added another stamp to the countless Ukrainian entry stamps I have collected in my passport. How wonderful it is that this country still exists. How incredible it is that this country still exists!

Finally in Kyiv. Underground station. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

The train journey through a country that is currently experiencing a war seems completely normal to me. I am, after all, in the Western part. As predicted by Sergey Sumlenny (see #FundReise Day 1), it is warm, as I had hoped, there is fresh coffee and, unexpected, even a stable internet connection.

When the train reaches Kyiv on time, I can’t see anything while watching out of the window. It is simply dark, a result of the Russian warfare against the civilian population.

In Kyiv, Lena and her friend pick me up at the station. Lena has been invited to Munich several times: in 2013 as a speaker to the Lesbian Spring Conference, as host to the exhibition “No Right to Be Yourself” in 2014, as a participant in Uwe Hagenberg’s popular workshops about “Community Building/Volunteer work in the LGBTIQ* community”.

She always stayed at my place. It’s nice to be able to hold her in my arms.

Reunion with Lena and her friend. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

Since it will soon be curfew in Kyiv and the metro doesn’t run as often, the two of them put me in a taxi that drives me to my accommodation. I’m staying privately, more about that later. Just so much, my blogs are now written with the editorial assistance of Kaja.

Kaja, three months old. My editorial assistant in Kyiv. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

On Monday morning, my first day in Kyiv, I first visit the office of KyivPride office and discover Munich Kyiv Queer’s leaflet in a small “flyer exhibition”.

Above left: the Ukrainian version of Munich Kyiv Queer’s flyer. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

In KyivPride’s office I generously get offered a workspace if I should need it. There is reliable electricity, internet and a shower. But will I ever be able to write texts without Kaja again??? (Cat owners, I can hear you laughing all the way here!).

Just around the corner is a small coffee shop run by a refugee from Kharkiv. This is where my journey of discovery into Ukrainian creative protest begins.

Creative forms of protest

“Russian warship, go fuck yourself” has become an iconic expression of Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s attack. Spoken by a soldier in the early days of the war, it sounds like a punch-up in the back corner of a schoolyard. As Ukraine didn’t have to defend iself against an evil power. I think this form of resistance shows mental strength and I find it just great! There are even songs about it.

The paper cup with the cat immediately reminds me of the Munich artist Naomi Lawrence, who was very active with Munich Kyiv Queer for many years. I have to send her photos right away.

Street art by Banksy on Maidan. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

When I read about Banksy’s street art back in November, I immediately knew where I wanted to go first when in Kyiv: to the graffiti on Maidan.

Here, of all places, I experience my first air alarm. VIDEO It’s depressive, that’s true, but I’m not afraid. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here either. I have prepared myself as well as I can, and I am observing my fellow human beings closely. More on that in a moment.

The first air alarm

Apart from the air alarm, everything seems quite normal here in Kyiv – at first glance. Only a second glance reveals that I am in the capital of a country at war.

Since I have seen, experienced and felt so much, I have to make a selection for this blog. And here it comes:

“I love Ukraine”. Me on the far left of the picture. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

As I have my picture taken in front of the “I love Ukraine” sign, the three best friends of every tourist appear immediately. The man with the doves on his shoulder (“Don’t you want a nice photo?”), the man with the souvenirs (“Handmade in Ukraine”) and the man with …

No, the man who wants to sell bus tours is not coming. Tourist buses are really not running at the moment. But apart from that, everything appears normal. I skilfully fend the guys off, then turn to the sea of flags and am again approached by the man with the souvenirs.

Commemorating killed Ukrainians on Maidan in Kyiv. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

The Ukrainian bracelets he hands over are a sign of solidarity for wounded soldiers. So I donate and get a blue and yellow wristband as described. The man asks me why I’m here (visiting friends) and where I’m from (Kyiv’s twin city Munich). “My daughter fled there with her grandchildren,” he answers, looking sad because he hasn’t seen her for so long.

It seems strange to me that – because of this war – Germany of all places has now become a place of refuge and people’s relationships with each other are forming in such a completely new way. I don’t want to say that this is also an opportunity because a terrible war is the trigger, but it is happening.

The shop with Ukrainian fashion, the Roshen shop for chocolate (we from Munich Kyiv Queer are regular customers), Besarabsky Rynok, Kyiv’s food market mostly for tourists, are alle closed.

When the metro becomes a bunker. Air alert in Kyiv. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

Kyiv’s metro was deliberately built very deep. Now, during the war, it becomes a bunker: the escalators offer a place to sit, the entrance halls and platforms form into shelters. I see folding chairs, sleeping mats and a whole new war routine.

We must not get used to this cruelties

The scenery makes me think of the violence researcher Jan Philipp-Reemtsma, who himself survived massive violence, but who had already done research on these topic before. Reemtsma once said that even in violence, people settle into a routine, into a habituation, if that is possible. Because we have to. Human beings need their routine to survive.

But we who live in peace should not get used to all of this, to just watching this war, feel nothing about it. We don’t have to, we have a choice.

Donations help in Ukraine. But donations also help us to remain empathetic.

Every euro counts.

#FundReise #MunichKyivLove #18.000 Euro

Sibylle collects money for

Individual help

Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via to support people in Ukraine with whom we have worked closely over the past ten years. Keyword: #FundReise. They are our friends and partners. We know them personally and we miss them. We can help fast, directly and unbureaucratically.

Help for War Victims

The association “Bridge to Kiev” supports people in need, especially children and large families.

Recipient: Brücke nach Kiew e.V.
Bank: Raiffeisenbank München Süd eG
IBAN: DE74 7016 9466 0000 0199 50
Keyword: #FundReise

A donation receipt can be issued for donations of 200 euros and more.

Help for LGBTIQ* organisations

To support LGBTIQ* in Ukraine we have helped set up the Alliance Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine, in which around 40 German LGBTIQ* Human Rights organisations are involved. All these groups have access to very different Human Rights organisations in Ukraine and use funds for urgently needed care or evacuation of queer people. Every donation helps and is used 100 percent to benefit queer people in Ukraine. Donate here


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