The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation: ‘Only memories of the past carefree life remained’ – the story of Kostiantyn Yeliseyev
The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation is a project with a global outreach that plans to collect 100,000 accounts of civilians affected by the armed conflict in the east of the country by 2025.
‘We cannot open the museum in Donetsk, so we are creating it online. It will work as an online archive, online exhibitions, online and offline projects, and as a media resource. Rinat Akhmetov helped, is helping and will continue to help civilians from Donbass. In 2014, the Humanitarian Center was created, which provided assistance unprecedented in its scale and, in fact, saved millions of lives. There is a separate story behind every saved life. We want to create the world’s main archive of Civilian Stories. We believe that in this way we keep the voices of the past and the present for a better future,’ says Natalya Yemchenko, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation.
Before 2014, Kostiantyn Yeliseyev from Yenakiyeve considered himself a fully happy person. He had a prestigious job, he was raising his daughters, and making refurbishment in the apartment. He and his wife made some plans and looked hopefully into the future, which soon turned out to be not as cloudless as they wanted. The war came to the town. The man did not leave the town even during the shelling. He remained as a volunteer at the plant to service the bomb shelter.
‘During six years of living in the town, I saw the hostilities many times, but there was one event that still remains in the memory. In December 2014, there was a heavy artillery fire. There was such a rumble that dishes were bouncing in the china cupboard at home, and windows were blown off in the school building and apartment buildings nearby. It was scary because we did not know what to expect at any moment,’ the author of the story recounts.
Due to the situation in the town, salaries were cut significantly, and in order to get paid it was necessary to go to the government-controlled territory of Ukraine. Money was barely enough for the most necessary things like food. The younger daughter was two years old at that time.
‘Humanitarian aid from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation helped us very much. Honestly, when there is no money and you understand that your children are on the verge of starvation, you are thankful for any help. The war united people in many ways and to many extents. Faced with common grief, they worked hard until late at night and helped to unload vehicles with food,’ says Kostiantyn Yeliseyev.
The Museum of Civilian Voices is an online museum that for the first time in Ukraine objectively and fully documents the testimonies of civilians affected by the hostilities in Donbass. It is a space where they can openly share their personal stories and thus free themselves from the burden of silence. The collected materials are a unique database for historians, researchers, journalists, as well as for writing books, making documentaries, feature movies and other projects that will help preserve the history as it is.
To share their stories and contribute to the preservation of memory, residents of Donbass and IDPs just need to follow the link https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/en/my-story and fill out a small questionnaire or leave their contact details for call back. Donbass Civilians can also turn to the Foundation for psychological assistance by calling 0800509001.