Meet Dmytro, the youngest volunteer of NGO Promote Ukraine. Russian full-scale attack brought 17-year old Dmytro from Kyiv to Brussels in March 2022. He found a new sense of purpose amidst the chaos and turmoil surrounding him when he responded to the call to become a steward for a large demonstration and concert in support of Ukraine.
Read Dmytro’s story about how he stayed up until 2 a.m. drawing his best posters, felt thrilled to speak for the first time during the demonstration, and transformed into an activist.
Volunteer’s journey: Dmytro
Meet Dmytro, the youngest volunteer of NGO Promote Ukraine. Russian full-scale attack brought 17-year old Dmytro from Kyiv to Brussels in March 2022. He found a new sense of purpose amidst the chaos and turmoil surrounding him when he responded to the call to become a steward for a large demonstration and concert in support of Ukraine. Below is Dmytro’s story.
When I first became involved in activism, I didn’t know how to express my ideas in a way that would make an impact. But as I attended more protests and rallies in Brussels, I realised that the right message could be a powerful tool. Once, I created a banner for a demonstration that read, “Nothing can stop the idea when its time has arrived.” This is my favorite saying. I drew it at 2 o’clock at night, l and I was very happy to see it being quoted in the media. But not everyone understands complex messages, so I also create simpler quotes for our protests that could easily be turned into posters. One of my favorites is “Russia is a terrorist state” and I made sure to create a poster with that message that was both eye-catching and impactful.
I remember the EU-Ukraine human chain, to raise awareness about Ukraine’s EU candidate status. It was such a powerful and unique historical event for me. Actually, I was so inspired that exactly at that demonstration I approached one of the activists to ask how to join the team.
Volunteering through demonstrations became my primary activity, and in the autumn of 2022, we organized a protest near la Monnaie, which had scheduled three Russian operas in its upcoming season. As a result of our manifestation, Monnaie displayed a banner of the ruined Mariupol theatre on its facade and added some Ukrainian content to its program.
One of the brightest memories – the demonstration next to NATO. For the first time, I had the courage to speak in public asking for more weapons to fight against the terrorists. “NASAMS-ABRAMS-LEOPARDS” – I still hear the slogan in my head.
Some events are also very difficult psychologically speaking. I remember, in the summer of 2022, we went out on the streets to raise awareness about Russia’s war crimes in Kremenchuk and Olenivka, where innocent civilians and Ukrainian Azov defenders were brutally murdered by the terrorist regime. Around 200 people gathered, so many of them were crying during the protest, it was heartbreaking. If I wasn’t part of the Promote Ukraine team at the time, it would have been much more difficult for me to process these and other tragedies.
On the future
Experience with Promote Ukraine changed my attitude towards volunteering. Now I consider myself an activist. You invest a lot of time and energy, but you get a significant reward. I grew and learned a lot, I met smart people. I regained a sense of my own worth and contribution to victory. In Ukraine, I never experienced this before.
The fight isn’t over yet. While I believe in Ukraine’s victory, I know that it will take more than just slogans and posters. We need continued support, donations, and most importantly, the belief in our military’s ability to protect our country. It is easy for people in Europe to forget about the war, but we can’t afford to become apathetic. We must continue to fight for what we believe in and never give up.
As for me, journalism has always interested me, and I would love to go back to Ukraine and, maybe, one day be able to tell the stories of my country to the world.