Razom was made for the kinds of things that 2020 threw at the world. Volunteers came together to respond to the constantly changing situation in Maidan in 2013, so the 2020 global pandemic, lockdowns, and elections in both the US and Ukraine were met with readiness to work together.
A few days after we held a music festival that put Ukrainian Contemporary Music on stages throughout New York City, the city became the epicenter of the global pandemic and shut down. Razom volunteers quickly shifted to all online community events. The Board continued to meet every two weeks on Google Meets. We shifted Get Togethers and the Lounge at the 7th Street Festival to Zoom. In early fall, we gathered a few times outside (in Central Park, on the banks of the East River, and even on the roof of St. George’s School in the East Village).
We restarted our Emergency Response work to address shortages in supplies and information about Covid in Ukraine and in New York. We continued programs about Education and about Culture.
Each day we continue to see how volunteers working together on specific projects brings us all closer to unlocking the positive potential of Ukraine. We continue to welcome collaboration with organizations and individuals around the world to build a prosperous Ukraine. Razom is forging ahead, no matter what 2021 brings.
Razom Culture kicked off the year with what has become an annual favorite – the New York Fashion Week. We were excited to assist backstage with Bevza’s runway show and help highlight Ukraine’s fashion on the global scene. We supported Ukrainian cinema with multiple screenings of the documentary The Earth is Blue as an Orange, including at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival (where it won the world documentary directing award). We celebrated Ukrainian music by hosting the inaugural Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival, a three-day event that included three concerts and numerous speakers. The shutdown in 2020 pushed us to think up new ways to bring our community together around Ukrainian culture. The Razom lounge, typically an annual feature at the 7th Street Ukrainian Festival in New York City, became a series of interactive virtual meetings. In September, we carefully hosted an in-person mini film festival, Kino na Dakhu. Over two evenings, we showed three Ukrainian films on the roof of St. George’s Academy. We screened Mr. Jones, showed Julia Blue and Hutsulka Ksenia, and were joined by director Roxy Toporowych and actor Maksym Lozynskij to discuss their respective films.
Before all schools went on quarantine, Razom Ticket was glad to start a new initiative – supporting Math School, a week-long math camp with 6+ hours of intense studying sessions for children that have reached the 3rd or 4th stage of the Ukrainian Math Olympiad. The Winter Math School, organized by the Kharkiv Physics and Mathematics Lyceum No. 27 and the Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics, took place on January 4-11 for students in grades 8 through 11. 90 students came from 12 cities all over Ukraine, Razom Ticket was happy to support the participation of 19 of them.
With Ukraine’s quarantine measures, all educational institutions were closed and Olympiads were postponed indefinitely. The teachers of the Kharkiv Physics and Mathematics Lyceum No.27 reached out to the RazomTicket team, requesting help in purchasing document cameras needed for effective online learning. As STEM disciplines are typically taught by demonstrating on a board, adapting to remote education was especially difficult for these teachers and students.
Bohdan Radchenko Stipend for Veterans provides highly motivated and accomplished Ukrainian veterans with a possibility to gain a Master’s degree in the specialization of their choice. The most popular field of study for veterans has proved to be Public Administration.
As of 2020, we have 17 stipend recipients (including 6 graduates). Since the start of the program, Razom has funded $10,000 in tuition and stipends for veteran’s higher education.
Six new veterans embarked on their Master’s degrees at the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Kyiv School of Economics, and the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Four veterans graduated this year, while 5 are in their second year of courses for their Master’s degrees.
The veteran stipend recipients are also responsible for raising money to keep the stipend program going, even when they graduate. In 2020, this year’s cohort of stipend recipients planned, organized, and executed a successful online fundraising event on Saint Mykolai day and raised more than 40,000 hryvnia.
With the announcement of the pandemic, it became obvious that Ukrainian doctors urgently needed personal protective equipment.
In early March, we responded to this need by establishing an Emergency Response fundraiser. Within the next few days and weeks, Razom raised and allocated over $45,000 to protect health workers fighting COVID-19 in Ukraine. Partnering up with Patients of Ukraine in Kyiv and the Corporation of Monsters in Odesa, we provided healthcare workers with 1500+ protective suits and 10,000+ respirators. Thanks to the generous donations, we additionally purchased and delivered two oxygen concentrators and an isolation capsule.
We restarted the Covid Emergency Response in October 2020 once there was evidence of a COVID surge. To date we sent a bit over $21,000 to Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odesa to help local volunteers purchase oxygen concentrators. In Lviv and Odesa, volunteers were assembling independent services to serve outpatients that require oxygen supplies. In Kharkiv, the concentrators were delivered by our local partners, Station Kharkiv, to the hospitals that lack them.
Razom Think keeps Ukraine relevant and affords the opportunity for the wider global community to engage in meaningful discussions and actions with leading Ukrainian change makers.
In January, we hosted an open discussion with Oleg Sentsov, where he spoke about Ukrainian political prisoners, life after imprisonment in Russia, and his future as a filmmaker. Sentsov, in conversation with Razom volunteer Maria Genkin, thanked everyone who supported him during his years in Russian captivity and reminded the audience that the fight isn’t over until all Ukrainian political prisoners are freed.
Since his release, Sentsov has been catching up on five years worth of movies and planning his own creative work with a goal of making five films over the next five years. He will continue to fight for Ukrainian political prisoners.
Razom Book Club is a community of engaged readers who read Ukrainian literature and read about Ukraine.
We hosted twelve book clubs in 2020. We started this year meeting in person in NY, but as COVID Quarantine came into effect, we switched to
online meetings. In this format, we were able to expand the geography of the club. We are now joined by readers in Cleveland, DC, Chicago, and Kyiv monthly.
Among the books we read this year were: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, Amadoka by Sofia Andrukhovych, The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland, Ivan and Phoebe by Oksana Lutsyshyna.
We also were fortunate enough to host a few meetings with the writers in person at the beginning of the year. Club members and Razom volunteers enjoyed meeting Andriy Kurkov and Artem Chekh.
In early 2020, together with the BWN Group, Razom launched the Veteranius project to help Ukrainian veterans, volunteers, and internally displaced persons master programming skills – and enter the competitive Ukrainian IT industry.
Thanks to the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation and the European Union, we were able to quickly scale the project since its inception. We received 252 applicants into the program and 64 veterans were selected to participate. During the program, participants receive real tasks on projects that require software development. Their work is supported and supervised by mentors, who are IT professionals.
The Veteranius program provides crucial experiential learning exposure that other programs and courses simply do not offer, especially for veterans. The first cohort of Veteranius graduates already have jobs in IT and act as mentors for project newcomers.
Our Razom Partners Building Ukraine Together (BUR) and Serhiy Zhadan Charitable Foundation partnered to rebuild a school library in Myronivske in the Luhansk region. The children of this post-industrial town near the frontlines needed a space to gather, play, and hang out.
BUR rallied the local community to create such space in the school library. The space has been fully renovated and furnished, supplied with high-speed internet, and stacked with hundreds of new books.
Serhiy Zhadan visited Myronivske for a reading and conversation in October, as part of his work with the small-town communities in eastern Ukraine.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Razom was able to provide $11,800 in support of the two partner organizations in 2020.
Razom Toy Drive provides assistance for displaced people, orphans, and families of Ukrainian military who died or were hurt in action.
In 2020, the Toy Drive initiative has been able to help over 140 children affected by the Russian occupation of Eastern Ukraine. These are children of veterans, children who lost one or more parents to the war, children of veterans with disabilities.
We were able to provide them with clothing, shoes, school supplies, toys, Birthday presents, St Nicolas presents and much more.
Thank you for volunteering your time, donating funds, making introductions, and supporting our efforts together.