Trine Eklund, Nordiske Kvinners Fredsnettverk (NKF):


Report from av seminar roundtrip in Ukraina Nov-Dec. 2000


Rapport fra en seminar-reise til NKFs samarbeids-

grupper "Women for the Future" (WfF)

i Ukraina 3/11-3/12-2000



Dear all of you !

I want to send you a feedback from my trip this year - also to see how you feel - if it is any neccesity to follow up next year.

The experiences this year varied a lot. My impression is that lack of interest for alternative thinking and democratic prosesses is rather prominent in most people. I am in doubt if it is of any value to continue with seminars where changing to democratic ways of communication and solving conflicts is the issue and the goal.

The behaviour from the regime of an totalitarian state struck me so often this year, that I am very much in doubt what the Ukrainian population wants, and how Ukraina wants to develope for the future.

As I see very little results of democratic development during the 5 years I have visited the country, I am also in doubt if it is wise to go on with my lectures and seminars.

So to my experiences:

In Ternopil, Skvira and Borispol the arrangements, the interest and feedback were just great !

The most efficient place was Skvira, where I during a Sunday afternoon, all Monday and Tuesday morning had the possibility to give a 4 hours seminar to "WfF", a 2 hours seminar for 20 teachers from 2 schools and meeting with ca. 450 schoolchildren from 2 schools for questions and discussions.

In Borispol I gave seminars for teachers and "WfF" in school 5 and 6, + meeting the classes for questions for 1,5 hours each. The third and last day when everything was arranged for the school 8 meeting, we were called up in the morning and stopped by the chief of the regional education and I was absolutely denied to go to school 8 for my seminar. I was even denied to speak to the headmaster and organizers. I was stopped without any explanation and he would not speak with me for explaining or clearing up. I was told he was furious for something - and was in his right to stop me if he wanted. Still I do not know WHY !

The feedback from the local society was great - even the Mayor tried to open up for me and also other local offices, but in vain. In the end of the day, the Mayor sent me an invitation for next year, and a delegation was sent to school 8 and excused what had happend. Mr. Borovko was accusing me for "provocation", I was told, without facts or resonable proofs, and I had to
leave Borispol for Oslo, only with promises that they would try to speak to this man and find out. I am still waiting for an explanation.

In Ternopil it is my 5 time with the wonderful group of "Women for Future". There they are always following up all the 30 of the group during two full days, and the progress is great - there I SEE results - and I experience which force these women are in the civic society - among parents and teachers, in the local society. They work with much respect. My days there are efficient and well planned.

In these tree places "Women for Future" are functioning in a most satisfying way - and they are a "force" for the local society, as I see it.

About the two new local "WfF" in Kerch and Odessa, I have nothing to say. For me both were very disappointing - bad planning and little interest for seminars and alternative thinking.

Concerning the tree University towns - Kiev, Lviv and Kharkiv, I do not see much of interest either. May be because the organizers never have attended my seminars so they do not know what it is all about. Misunderstandings occure between me and the organizers and between the organizers and the groups I am lecturing for.

May be some of the reason is the rigid classroom system Ukrainian students are working under. For me it seems that the Universities look upon their students as children - still in fixed classes. It limits the time and the possibility for those students beeing interested in alternatives and also for students having other thoughts and meanings than the usual sterotypies.

I experienced the interest for my lectures in so many of their faces, from their questions and the remarks they gave me after the lectures, but we had no possibility for discussions or following up because of the rigid systems. Many also told me how affraid they were to express their meanings or to scip classes in favour of spending their time more meaningful . They dared not! They were afraid and scared for the consequenses if they expressed themselves by alternative thoughts or acting. This fear I meet everywhere - "We dare not", "We can not" - while my message is: "I/we can" !!

Problems: Lack of information is a great problem for me. Not to be told about programs before I leave Norway, train schedules, if you have recieved things sent to you, etc.

Ex. in Kharkiv where I for two days should give seminars to the militzia students ! Last class of the young men in the militzia and the 14-17 years boys beeing trainees at the policeschool. In uniforms with military disiplin and learning how to use weapons !! Without any information about this challenge, and no chance to prepare myself, I was sent to these schools. Lucky for me the administration was very nice and flexible, and it became my most interesting two days in Ukraina, thanks to Mr. Igor and his staff. Had I met a Mr. Borokov as chief of the Militzia Academy, I had been rather bad off. I was rather provoking at Mr. Igors Academy, I think, since I was furious meeting these kids beeing children - and trained for killing !

The political and economical analysis mr. Igor and his staff gave me concerning Ukraina when having lunch, was most interesting and the most objective analysis I have experienced ever in Ukraina.

The 14 and 17 hours staying in train to and from Kerch for nothing, was rather annoying and stressing. What about some information about these facts - or a discussion in advance about the program in Kerch? Also "WfF" in Kerch have e-mail - it is allowed to discuss programs and details - and you will avoid conflicts ! It is not necessary to produce more conflicts and sicknesses than you already have in life, because of lack of information ?

Lviv: It is always nice to spend time in beautiful and sophisticated Lviv, and it was extremely interesting to meet Bo Gøran and Lada with their helpingprogram. If I ever should come back to Lviv, it must be to give seminar to their staff as we talked about. One class of students with limited time, is not enough.

At last I want to thank the Norwegian Embassy in Kiev that made my visite possible this year, and all the support you always give me - and the interest you show me for my program. Specially thanks to Ambassadeur Anders Helseth that now is leaving the Embassy.

Merry Christmas to all of you - and a most Happy New Year !

Warm regards to all of you Trine



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Epost: tulle.elster@peacelink.n