Civil society leaders of Lithuania and Ukraine to gather in UKREATE hub

Categories: NewsPublished On: 2023 February 06

On the 2nd of February, “Ukreate Hub” was opened at the premises of Open Lithuania Foundation (OLF) in Vilnius, Didžioji st., with a goal to empower the network of active people of Ukrainian civil society (teachers, academics, intellectuals, journalists and cultural activists), who have relocated to Lithuania. The long term aim is to contribute to the strengthening of Ukrainian civil society and to the preparation for the return to rebuild Ukraine. Hub’s roadmap includes intellectual discussions on rethinking Ukrainian future, brainstorming workshops, project incubation, internship programs, residence for human right activists etc.

The Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Mantas Adomėnas, came to congratulate the participants of this important initiative: “the implementation of Ukreate Hub initiative once again highlights the importance and power of civil society. I’m grateful to Open Lithuania Foundation, which cares not only about Lithuanians but also about active citizens of Ukraine and sees the value of unleashing their potential in foreign but friendly environment. I believe that this place will become a home far from home for Ukrainian civil society. Let’s be more than witnesses, let’s unite our strength to support brave initiatives that arise here.”

In his welcoming speech, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Lithuania, Petro Beshta, stressed that Ukreate Hub will broaden the horizons of Ukrainians in Lithuania and contribute to the creation of a vibrant social network. The Ambassador also noted that this meaningful initiative will help build even more bridges between Ukrainians and Lithuanians.

The official opening of the bilateral initiative was complemented by a live presentation by Mykhailo Vynnytskyi, Harvard University Fellow, a PhD in sociology and an Associate Professor at the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, on the importance of civil society for the development and reconstruction of Ukraine. The same theme was carefully continued by Oleksandra Matviychuk, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and representative of the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties.

“Since the end of February last year, the Open Lithuania Foundation has been supporting Ukrainian initiatives in Lithuania, responding to the needs of active Ukrainian citizens: working on educational and integration challenges, establishing NGOs, and finding financial resources for self-realisation projects in our country.”

“After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which shocked the whole world, we were looking for a way to help the motivated and active part of Ukrainian society operating in our country. We remained faithful to our mission – to strengthen civil society, to encourage and support those citizens, who seek social and political changes in their environment for the sake of better coexistence and the consolidation of overarching democratic values,” said Sandra Adomavičiūtė, OLF director.

Svitlana Zalužna, Hub manager for Ukraine, who has been developing OLF projects for social and cultural integration of Ukrainian citizens for a year now, sees Ukreate Hub as a platform that can nurture active compatriots into professional civic activists, NGO leaders, and social initiators. “I believe it will be a place where we will come together for a bigger purpose – to strengthen our diaspora for a more active advocacy and the reconstruction of Ukraine.”

Potential participants in the Ukreate Hub emerged before the hub’s activities were even announced publicly. Eugenija Kovaliova, OLF international project manager, project leader and hub manager for Lithuania, believes that this is another way for Lithuania to support Ukrainians in their struggle for the future of their homeland. “We want to invest in people who will return ready to rebuild Ukrainian communities. We are sending a message to the societies of both countries that we invite Ukrainian thinkers, teachers, academics, cultural workers, activists to join Ukreate Hub, where they will have access to our facilities, participate in networking and intellectual discussions, and receive professional assistance in nurturing their ideas into well-developed and impactful projects, grounded in Lithuania for now, but focused on their home country – Ukraine.”

There are various ways to contribute to the activities of Ukreate Hub: for example, the strategic concept, name and visual identity of the hub were voluntarily developed by business consultants Synthesis Consulting Group and Andstudio, and designers Lina Ščerbuke and Donatas Čiulada from the BNI Aitvaras business community helped to furnish the premises. Law firm Sorainen will pro bono consult the Hub community on legal and tax issues, OSFL Projektai will provide accounting advice, Kotryna Stankutė-Jaščemskienė, head of Marius Jakulis Jason Foundation and Orion Wealth philanthropy and education projects manager, will advice on networking, Publicum FComm will provide PR services, and CRC Consulting – strategic services.

Ukrainian students studying at the Design Department of Kaunas Faculty of Vilnius Academy of Arts are creating Lithuanian-Ukrainian relationship themed posters for interior design as their bachelor’s thesis, and centre premises were also decorated with reproductions of Ukrainian children’s drawings from the Kharkiv metro, “Diaries from the Hiding Place”. The drawings, which were born in a difficult time, are a tribute to Ukrainian heroes. The website was created by Ukrainian artist Mikhail Filonenko.