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20 January 2016

It's Fun Being Together - Children from Donbas, Crimea and Lviv

"It’s Fun Being Together" - high school students from Lviv, Lugansk, Donetsk regions and Crimea made this conclusion during an interactive tour of the historical Lviv held on January 16, 2016.

All children want to live in peaceful and calm environments, study, have friends, communicate and be happy. Regardless of geography of birth and childhood, there are no someone else’s children, so adults should assist children to communicate, get acquainted and grow. This requires creating appropriate conditions that could be best achieved through cultural and educational activities. Bearing this in mind, the organizers hold an interactive tour along the historical streets of Lviv under a symbolic name of “Lviv in persons and events".

The cultural event brought together 20 high school students from Lviv, Donetsk, Lugansk, Sudak, Stanitsa Luganska and Antratsyt, Sambir and Busk. On Saturday morning the children together with one of the best city guides, Ms Inna Zolotar, and the initiative coordinator, Ms Natalya Datchenko, walked around Lviv, heard its history, saw its ancient architecture, climbed the city hall and from there released the balloons with their ultimate dreams into the sky.

This is how the student of Sambir secondary school No. 8, participant of the Euroclub "Life", describes the event:
"Recently we had a Lviv city tour as part of "It’s Fun Being Together" initiative, which aims to unite the east and the west, to show that we are united and feel better together. Some members of our Euroclub joined this exciting journey around Lviv. I would like to say that our tour began one sunny morning, yet the weather this day was frosty and it snowed. Despite this, our wonderful guide Inna Zolotar told us interesting stories about the great city of Lviv. She did not use any scientific terms, her stories instead were somewhat fabulous; Inna told about her hometown enthusiastically, and her attitude, of course, made us enthusiastic. 
We started our journey near the Opera House. We found out that in order to construct this magnificent monument, people even changed the river bed! We also visited the Armenian church. Although we frequently come to Lviv, we know nothing about the existence of this building. The interesting fact is that it is located in such a corner, between the cake, chocolate, and candy shops, that we just pass it noticing only the sweet things. How wrong we are… In this temple one can easily find quiet and feel his/her own spirituality. On its walls, there are wonderful and mysterious paintings, while the ceiling is decorated with beautiful mosaic. The temple impressed us with its grandeur and comfort at the same time.  
Our next stop was the Armenian bank where we had the opportunity to rub the stone batiar’s bag, which can help people in financial troubles. We will understand soon whether it is true. 
We visited Pidvalna street (“Pidval” in English means “basement”, and if divided into two words – “pid val” the meaning will be “below an embankment”), where we, surprisingly, found no basements. The street is located below the embankments. It was an interesting discovery for us. We saw many interesting places, and our last stop was the Lviv City Hall. Climbing the stairs was very long and hard, but the view of the city, which opened to us from the top, was incredible and definitely worth the efforts. At the top of the city hall we inflated balloons, wrote our desires on them and released them to the sky. It was very cool. 
After the tour we were invited by Oleh Protsak and Galyna Bondaryuk to have a coffee with biscuits, where we could relax and communicate. Also, we had a little quiz. We were asked questions about what we learnt from our guide Inna. Those who gave right answers, got magnets. It was very interesting, because everyone wanted a magnet. Time passed quickly and we had to say “goodbye” to each other. However, we were invited to the next training, which we will visit with great pleasure!"

I can hardly add something to the children’s impressions. The only thing I want to say is that children can become ambassadors of good changes. The processes of rapprochement and reconciliation are long and painful for both sides of the conflict. In my opinion, the conflict will continue in the coming years, but we must start the processes now if we really want to preserve and enrich our country. So, let’s start with small steps, because it is really fun spending time together.

Last but not least, I am very grateful to all our partners, who share our common approach:
  • civil society initiative Krym SOS for financial support;
  • Ms Inna Zolotar for a free tour for children and a very valuable warmth;
  • Ms Tetiana Moskva, methodologist, Lviv educational-methodical center of education for organizational support of the event;
  • Ms Oksana Rubai and colleagues from Lviv city center of social services for families, children and youth for organizational support;
  • Oleg Protsak and Galyna Bondaruk, head and events’ coordinator of the  NGO "Center for Education Policy" for the hospitality and openness during non-formal communication of participants;
  • Reloading Donbass initiative and Ukrainian Social Investment Fund for informational support of the mini-project "It’s Fun Being Together".

Natalya Datchenko, Project coordinator

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