The first Ukrainian cultural centre opened in Brussels. In contrast to Russian cells, which are now actively trying to recruit our refugees abroad, the Ukrainian activists opened their cultural centre in the EU capital. Olena Abramovych unveils more details.

Ruslana Shkolnyk has been living in Belgium for nine years and has her art studio here. In the midst of the war, she decided to somehow help Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes. So, now she gives free painting lessons for children once a week.

Adults see psychotherapists in the next room. They share the experience of a spontaneous stay in a foreign country. The purpose of the meeting, says therapist Sofia, is to make it easier for everyone to go through this experience.

Sofia Terlez, clinical psychologist, family therapist:

“At least to understand that I’m not alone having this experience. That is a big advantage. Because sometimes it seems to us, when we are encapsulated and isolated, that one thing or another that we are going through is something terrible, and that everyone is coping, and I am not. And this is not true. Because we all fail. And it’s okay not to cope.”

Tetiana Korol offers another way to deal with stress. She is a refugee herself. Her method of dealing with different emotions is neurographic art.

“To each his own, right. Or, for example, sadness, or some stress, some anger. Anger may look like this.”

For many present, such drawings are a wonder. But some participants have long been familiar with this therapy. They rejoiced at the opportunity to practice it abroad.

Olena, a refugee from Kyiv:

“It’s psychotherapy, first. Second, it’s a way of thinking with the help of art, and it doesn’t matter at all whether you know how to draw.”

It doesn’t matter if you know how to dance at free dance classes organised by Uliana, a refugee from Kyiv.

“We will just pay attention to different parts of the body, move, listen to music and relax.”

Every coach at the first Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Brussels has set themselves a task to help to relax, and forget about problems and stress for at least an hour. The volunteers of NGO Promote Ukraine opened the centre a week ago, on 30 May.

Liubov Karpachova, coordinator of Promote Ukraine’s Ukrainian Cultural Centre:

“People came and said, ‘we have nowhere to meet, we would like to sit and discuss some problems, we would also like to do something that we did in Ukraine, but in Ukrainian’.”

The premises – a whole floor in an office center in the European Quarter – were provided to Ukrainians free of charge at least until the end of the year.

Marta Barandiy, founder of NGO Promote Ukraine:

“We also ask for subsidies – some companies can just give us a small grant of EUR 1,000 or 2,000 for volunteers to cover their transportation costs. Because those volunteers are mostly refugees. Of course, they have no money.”

In the first days of the war, 1,500-2,000 Ukrainians came to Brussels every day. They were sheltered by various families in the cities and towns of the country. Thousands remained in Brussels. For many of them, this center is a breath of fresh air.

Oksana, a refugee from Chernivtsi:

“We are generally surprised that the Ukrainian cultural community is so developed here. And the volunteers help Ukrainians greatly, and not just with food, financial assistance, household goods, but specifically with culture by organising protests, concerts that inspire, motivate.

The organisers hope that this cultural centre will become not a temporary but a permanent project. So, even when the war is over, Ukrainians abroad have always had their place of power.

Address: 53 Rue d’Arlon, 7th floor

Information about events: Promote Ukraine

Source: Inter. Podrobytsi

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