Alina Revenko has been in the YMCA for many years, as she says – almost forever. She is a part of YMCA Kremenchuk, a board member of the national YMCA movement in Ukraine and a youth trainer. For her, it was always important to be a part of the work for the community and especially young people who are struggling with mental health issues. Besides, Alina is also a participant in the Peace Work Institute of The Roots.
Alina was struggling with Covid-19 when the war started. “I was staying with my family, so they could take care of me. From the very beginning, I had a lot of feelings. It was hard to realize that all this is true and that it really happens to us. After some hours came thoughts: should we escape to the western part of Ukraine or stay at home. The decision was taken fast and clear. We decided to stay at home as long as possible. We stayed and started to help everywhere we could” Alina says.
Like everyone else, Alina had a hope that the war would end soon. But it didn’t. “It seems to me that 80% of civil Ukrainians became volunteers these days. Even people that came from hot points, a lot of them really help very much. And I also started a new project: “The Resilience Project”. Initiated together with Anna, our president, we created a set of yoga and mental health workshops. It aims to provide psychological support groups for children and young people, individual psychological consultations and assistance for mothers with young children, group meditations (online and offline) and yoga classes. We would like to engage refugees and people from different parts of Ukraine and show them the activities of our YMCA group” – shares Alina.
War is full of sadness and terrors, but still, there come some bright moments that help you not to lose your consciousness. For Alina that was her family, their cats, and her niece who draws lovely pictures of spring and flowers… “In our family, we had some kind of agreement. We decided that our home and relationships are the islands of peace, love, and harmony. Sometimes it can be very hard because emotions can be stronger than we could expect. But we try to hug each other and joke a lot”.
How can the definition of peace change for people who go through war? In the frames of the Peace Work Institute, there was an activity where people were speaking about the definition of peace for them. Alina’s words in that video were these: “Peace for me doesn’t mean an absence of some issues and challenges, but a place of dialogue and decision-making in harmony and a lovely way”.
And as Alina says, not very much changed, fortunately: “Peace for me is at my home: family, clear sky, and walking with friends during the sunset. Peace for me still doesn’t mean the absence of misunderstanding and disagreement between the people. All of us are different and we shouldn’t be the same. But each person, each community, and each country has to respect themselves and the others: rules, traditions, and borders. Each of us has freedom. But my freedom ends, where someone’s begins. Life, love, relationships and peace are the biggest values for me.”