INSHA reports: One year of war
A year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. The war continues to this day. Media interest is still there, but it is limited to the political-military sphere. We learn little about how the people in Ukraine or those in exile are actually doing. Their everyday lives in bombed-out cities or their problems abroad have hardly any place in the German public sphere.
Not so with filia: Since the beginning of the war, we have been in regular contact with our Ukrainian partner organizations, learning from them which projects are continuing, which are on pause, where their employees are, and which needs are the most urgent. One of these organizations is INSHA, an LGBTIQ+ organization based in Kherson.
How could INSHA support its community?
Since then, we have been in close contact with the director, Maryna. She herself fled to Germany because of the war, but continues to work from exile and coordinates the activities in her Ukrainian homeland. Thanks to filia’s support, INSHA evacuated nearly 350 people, women and LGBTIQ+, from Kherson during the Russian occupation of the city. The organization even helped three people escape abroad. INSHA has also provided humanitarian assistance to around 600 people. For example, it provided food to trans people. During the occupation, these people no longer dared to go out onto the streets, because there they ran the risk of being checked and detained because of the gender entry in their passports.
INSHA also provides psychological support to activists, women and trans people who have fled the city. Maryna told us that they now work with six psychologists who have expertise in working with rape victims and crisis intervention.
Special projects during the war
At the beginning of the war, INSHA’s main concern was to financially support activists in Kherson: “The first thing was to give a job, to pay a salary to our collaborators living under occupation.” They asked them to document their everyday life in the occupied city. The results are currently being used to create a research paper that will soon be published.
A photo project initiated by INSHA was also created during the Russian occupation of Cherson (March to November 2022): It portrays the hands of the city’s women. These photos are to be shown as part of an exhibition in Ukraine, perhaps also in Berlin.
INSHA’s support has primarily targeted the LGBTIQ+ community. Until the war, INSHA operated an open community center in Kherson. The war completely changed the situation: At first, INSHA was still accessible through its website; due to power and line outages, communication channels had to be used flexibly. Activists contacted INSHA by phone or via the Internet. Depending on what was possible at the time. To ensure that those seeking help could actually make contact, it was important to supply the community with power banks. INSHA organized this as well.
Most of the INSHA staff left Kherson during the war because the city was bombed extremely heavily. They fled to the surrounding areas or further away. This makes the work in the team and the support of the activists on the ground very challenging. Because the situation in the city is constantly changing. It remains chaotic. When asked what activists need most at the moment, Maryna says: “Generators, lighting, gas stoves. And psychological help. It’s a matter of survival. There is no electricity, no internet, no phone connection – and therefore no ways to make contact. That’s the biggest problem.”