‘Heart of a Dove’ Event for Women in War
Ukrainians have formed many initiatives to support veterans of the war in Eastern Ukraine. 'Heart of a Dove' is an event aimed at bringing attention to the wives and mothers of Donbas war soldiers. Fittingly, the 2-day event began on Victory in Europe Day.
Within the early months of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Elina Halva’s husband, Colonel Vyacheslav Halva, volunteered to fight. As a former intelligence officer, peacekeeper and instructor, he shared his rich experience training younger soldiers. But in August 2014, Vyacheslav himself was killed in action.
Elina said that her husband had trained four battalions before going to Donbas. He had felt compelled to go in order to help protect and the train soldiers there.
“We carry our children on our shoulders, and, unfortunately, at times, we have to carry our husbands too,” said another wife of a soldier, Olesia Dolina, “It’s because his wife or mother is the first and perhaps only person a serviceman will look to for psychological support – the ones he holds close enough to open his heart to.”
Olesia and Elina helped put together a series of portraits of the wives and mothers of fallen soldiers – part of a special event in Kyiv.
“As a present, we decided to organize a photo session for them, because they’ve forgotten what it’s like being a woman. First and foremost, they’re women. Because when you say ‘widow,’ it’s all about the tears. But THIS was a moment of joy for them. We made them feel beautiful again,” said chaplain and photographer, Basia Volodarska.
Once you’ve been to the front line, you see things from a different perspective, said Lieutenant Colonel Olena Stryzhalkovska.
“People think that we have many problems in life. But these problems aren’t really problems. Out there, you realize what real problems are, you learn about real friendship and mutual support,” Stryzhalkovska said.
The two-day ‘Heart of a Dove’ event started on May the 8th, when Ukraine marks the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for the victims of World War Two.
Those who attended honored the memory of the millions who perished between 1939 and 1945 and the thousands who have lost their lives and continue to lose their lives defending Ukraine from an ever-bellicose Russia.