Supporting Ukrainian Civil Society Heroes: Liudmyla Chychera

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Liudmyla Chychera ran a small community center in the heart of Mariupol, offering its residents a place to meet, talk, learn, and create. “February 22, 2022, upended everything,” Liudmyla shared with CEELI Institute’s team. “We ceased to exist as an educational center and community center.”

Today, more than two years after fleeing Russian forces that continue to occupy her native city, Liudmyla and the charity she co-founded, Halabuda, have been on a pilgrimage of reinvention: helping the Ukrainian military win the war—and one day, take her city back. From their new home in Cherkasy in central Ukraine, she and seven staff members provide humanitarian aid to civilians and soldiers. They run a small repair facility, fixing hundreds of the military’s drones that have been damaged during the fighting.
Last month, Liudmyla came to the CEELI Institute as part of a new short-term fellowship for leading Ukrainian civil society activists CEELI began this January. CEELI designed the program to provide humanitarian and civil society actors a short respite, typically for one month, to live, work, recover, and network with Czech and international aid organizations before returning to Ukraine to continue their work. CEELI recorded Liudmyla’s story during her final week in Prague before she returned to the frontlines of Ukraine’s citizen-led fight for freedom.  We encourage everyone to take five minutes to listen.

Please find the video here