The war in Ukraine may have slipped from the headlines in recent weeks, but for Olena Bravo, it’s always at the forefront of her mind.
“We want to show who Ukrainians are and why the whole world should fight for Ukraine,” says Bravo, one of the organizers of the nonprofit Ukrainian San Antonio.
The organization will celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday, August 24 with a concert featuring pop rock band SKAI. The event will also feature Ukrainian food by European Dumplings Café and a dance performance by Sonyashnyk.
A portion of the proceeds from the celebration supports Ukraine San Antonio, which raises funds to provide medical supplies, humanitarian aid and other necessities to those fighting and living in Ukraine. The non-profit organization has so far donated nearly $315,000 to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Independence Day marks the anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence from what was then the USSR on August 24, 1991.
Bravo says part of what she thinks Russia is doing in the current war is trying to erase Ukraine’s unique culture by eradicating its artifacts and art while telling people that Ukraine has no never been his own country.
By acknowledging and celebrating their country of origin, Bravo says they are doing what they can to counter misinformation from Russia.
Alongside this week’s event, Ukraine’s San Antonio also hosted Propertyan exhibition at the Igo Library that highlights Ukrainian culture.
“It reflects the culture, including clothing and art, of the Ukrainian people,” says Bravo, who brought the exhibit to life alongside San Antonio Ukrainians Natalka Sturgill and Svitlana Zadorovska. “We would like to show how beautiful Ukraine is without the war and the horrible news.”
In the exhibit, which is installed just inside the library doors on the northwest side, guests will see portraits of individuals dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothing, jewelry and accessories, some of which have nearly 100 years. The photos also show what some of the country’s traditional farmhouses looked like and provide insight into life in Ukraine in decades past. Bravo says they worked with scientists, collectors and ethnographers to ensure the accuracy of the objects and history depicted in the photos. A similar exhibit is on display at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC
Bravo has been in the United States for more than 10 years, but her mother and other people close to her remain in Ukraine. Originally, San Antonio Ukrainian was a way for fellow Ukrainians to get to know each other while promoting their culture and supporting the local community. Now, says Bravo, it’s a lifeline for those who want to do something to help their home country.