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How kindness and art become a call for life. BLOG by Roman Rubchenko, Director of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation


Sometimes things like this happen in our life: an acutely current topic, a painful theme becomes an impetus for good and creative beginnings. The fate of children who became affected by the conflict in Donbass is among them. Little Milana Abdurahsydova from Mariupol became a personification of these stories. Three years ago, the girl and her mother became victims of the shelling happened to get in a shooting in Vostochnyi city district. The motherwoman died at site, yetand Milana was, miraculously survived. The child’s traumagrief was aggravated by a serious physical injury: doctors had to amputate her leg.

The story of Milana's story opens the photobook ‘Donbass and Civilians’ Pphoto Bbook published by the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. There is a lot of pain and suffering in the chronicle of the terrifying events in the east of Ukraine. At the same time same time,  each of 11 stories of specific concrete individuals it contains has a life-affirming ray of hope in it -, an inevitable bright and visible one.

When the Pphoto Bbook was being created, several factors happened to coincide  timely came together. The original idea of visibly talking abouttelling about the lives of civilians inspired the team of creators, who put their heart into the process. The story of providing help not only gave a new impetus to the talent, but also let it open up in a new, unexpected direction. As a result, every reader of the Photo Book cannot remain indifferent will be affectedto by those who feature in it, and the book itself became a momentum for new creative beginnings.

Resulting from this synergy of charity and talent, the ‘Murals’ project came into being as a visual continuation of the Photo Book. The story of Milana impressed the author of the mural -, artist Sasha Korban. He tried to convey the feelings of the girl. And it resulted in a stunning effect. On the one hand, the book where vivid pictures take turns with black and white images, tells about a horrific disaster, including the story of Milana who faced such a monstrous tragedy. On the other hand, a small, but strong girl, with her will to life, invoked such emotions in the artist that their joint energy turned the mural into a call for life. The Mariupol locals themselves say that it worked. Some of them, though, were at first skeptical about the mural -, althoughbut then they then admitted: when looking at it, that they want to live.

Moreover, the mural has its own life beyond the Photo Book. It is widely popular on Instagram. I was astonished by a post fromof a young man who was going to proposes to his girlfriend under the mural and was asking for a better way to do it.

What the Rinat Akhmetov Foundations finds most important is not only helping people, but bringing hope and trust for the future to people. Such projects, where their participants share a common inspiration, are a clear demonstration of the success of the initiative. It is rare that so many elements successfully come together -, but when it happens, the effect is stunning.