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Bridge to tomorrow
Seminar participants watch the film "Most" Photo by Natalia Bimbirayte, IRC "Legal Space"
Seminar participants watch the film "Most"

The priest and psychologist wearing the military uniform, a few lawyers and human rights defenders - what can unite all these people? They visit together the districts of Kherson region and carry out psychological and legal seminars for the locals. They are united by one goal, one objective - to help ex-ATO combatants and their families. The editorial staff of the Vgoru newspaper joined one of such seminars, which took place in Henichesk.

The meeting in Henichesk was attended by a few couples, a few people who came from the front on leave, wives and grandparents of the children who are fighting in ATO zone, the officials who run the district work with the combatants and volunteers. The conference room in the Department of Education was packed.

Father Andriy Kalyta, the military chaplain, head of the Center for spiritual development "Source of Life" started the seminar. He told the story. When he was young father Andriy wanted to make a military career. During one of the combat operations he participated in the release of the hostages. They saw in the optical sight what was happening in the building. One of the criminals held a knife to the throat of a kid. But the order to fire did not arrive. Then the soldiers took the decision to start the operation. They managed to rescue the boy, the hostages were released, but Andriy's best friend was seriously wounded. Th requested a helicopter on the radio. But the answer was: "No helicopter in your area". The guy did not survive. And Andriy, as soon as he arrived in the unit, went to the commander and stuffed his face". His military career ended.

"To burn one's pain"

But when participants were shown the short film "Most" (Bridge) - no one could keep tears. Some just couldn't stand it, turned away from the screen...

In Genichesk this film was shown for the first time. It is short, lasts only a few minutes, but very touching. Tt is really incredibly painful to make such a choice, which was made by the protagonist to rescue hundreds of people - the price was their child's death. After going through deep grief he was able to accept that the sacrifice was not in vain.

Then each participant drew on paper his or her own pain, clenched and burned. This exercise seems to be so simple, but it really soothes the aching heart and the world is getting brighter. Having survived the wrath and rejection of events through the pain and frustration, we come to the beginning of a new life.

Before the start of the second part of the seminar the head of NGO "Volunteer" Yuri Shkalikov asked Father Andriy to help the soldier's wife. Her nerves are on edge, she does not stand the pressure, even tried to commit suicide. She has two little kids.

It's all in your hands

The second part of the seminar, which was led by a lawyer of the Information Resource Center "Legal Space" Volodymyr Orlovsky, started ... with cries. And that's fine, people need to express their negative emotions: our government and officials promised ATO combatants too much and their promises are not actually fulfilled. Interestingly, when the soldiers and their families began to complain against the authorities one of officials got up and began to report how much they do for them. Meanwhile Henichesk public organization "Volunteer" withdrew from the district ATO member center. As explained by the head of the organization Yuri Shkalikov, the government only promises assistance, but in reality - "overlaid with paperwork and orders." The last drop was the unexpected problem with the room for the seminar. On its eve the organizers were told to look for another place. Fortunately, the hall of the Department of education was free.

According to Yuri Shkalikov such seminars are very useful. Soldiers and their relatives felt that there are people who do not just talk, but really help.

A drop in the ocean

Within the program "Promotion of social adaptation of the ATO participants and their families by providing psychological and legal aid", which is implemented with the support of International Renaissance Foundation, 10 visits of mobile groups to the region are scheduled. Most of the districts have been already covered. Every appointment is attended by about 30 people. It is a drop in the ocean. After all, there are about 5 thousand demobilized soldiers. And if you count their wives, parents it's up to 20 thousand.

Legal aid is available through the " hotline "Legal Space" Mon thru Fr from 10 am to 6 pm: 093-14-77-303, 099-46-83-848.Llawyer's reception office: on Mondays from 10 am to 3 pm at the address: 2 Frunze St., of. 6, Kherson.


The visitor of Legal Space can ask the lawyer in Legal Advice within 24 hours http://legalspace.org/index.php/ua/helper/onlinecons. Or consult lawyers of Law Community Center Network in the chat room. Visiting hours: Mon thru Fr from 10 am to 4 pm.

Law Community Center Network provides free primary legal aid, includes 25 NGOs in 17 regions of Ukraine.

Father Andriy recieves on weekdays:  3 Perekopskaya St., Kherson phone: 050-418-10-01.

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