Young Ukrainians give rocket debris a new life
Vilnius. The Vilnius Office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM Lithuania) cooperate with Ukrainians who came to Lithuania after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine to conduct research and surveys. One of them is Ihor Lameko, a 21-year-old Ukrainian who came from Kharkiv. He worked for two months as an enumerator for IOM Lithuania, hearing first-hand the stories of Ukrainians about how they manage to live in Lithuania, rebuild their lives, and look for work.
Ihor himself came to Lithuania and is studying at Vilnius University. He brought with him some painted rocket debris. The Vilnius Office of the International Organisation for Migration also received these painted rocket parts. This gift has travelled 1,500 kilometres in Ukraine and abroad and has become a symbol of gratitude for the efforts of Lithuanians. Vilnius University, where Ihoris is currently studying, received a similar gift. He also received a shell casing, which was used by Ukrainian soldiers to liberate the Kharkiv region. Symbolically, the projectile bears the picture of Taras Shevchenko, and was handed over by the village's Shevchenkova.
Dozens of missiles fly into Ukraine every day, destroying homes, energy infrastructure, schools, kindergartens and hospitals. A young Ukrainian woman, Viktoriya Shvartskop, who is studying sociology in Lviv and comes from the small town of Rozhishche, together with other volunteers, decorates the rocket debris they find in a beautiful way and passes it on to various institutions in different countries as a symbol of an invincible Ukraine and as a sign of future victory.
Ihor says that after 24 February 2022, his dreams were shattered and his life turned upside down. Until then, Ihor studied sociology and political marketing at the V.N. Kazin Kharkiv National University. He came to Vilnius through the Erasmus+ programme and continues his studies in sociology at Vilnius University. "The journey was extremely long - 34 hours in the car with my family, who miraculously left Mariupol. I myself was born in a small village in Kherson Oblast, and when I was 5 years old we moved to Mariupol. I went to school there, I went to ballroom dancing, and later I moved to Kharkiv. Now my home is ruined. I have the keys to my house in Mariupol, but I have no home. Ironically, this is the reality of my home, only the keys remain. But I am grateful that my family and close friends are alive. Now my home is my family", says Ihor.
Ihoris is currently adjusting to life in Lithuania and helping other students while studying. In Ukraine, he was President of the Student Council. As he says, he has always been active, and now that he has arrived in Vilnius, he is actively helping other students so that young Ukrainians do not lose the opportunity to study and enjoy student life that the occupiers are trying to take away.
When the war broke out, both Ihor and Viktorija tried to help their compatriots by actively volunteering. At Christmas in late December, they met in Poland, where Viktorija gave the remains of a rocket to Ihoris to donate to Lithuania. "Viktorija and I had never met in person before. It was an incredible opportunity. When I picked up the parts of the rocket, I felt so many emotions that I can hardly name them, a firework of emotions. After all, this is the symbol of our impossible Ukraine. I proudly handed it over to Vilnius University, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Vilnius office of the International Organisation for Migration," says Ihoris. The wreckage of the rocket he donated is decorated with children's drawings. The children turn the weapons that linked death into a symbol of life. "We believe in Ukraine's victory, now the most important thing is not only to win, but also to rebuild our country, and then to visit all its cities," says Viktoria. When the army learns about Victoria's and other volunteers' initiatives, they themselves hand over rocket parts, debris from shells or leftover helmets to decorate them and give them a new symbol.
"I would love to go back to Ukraine, but my home in Mariupol was destroyed, my grandparents' house is still there, but now our village is occupied. I will return to Ukraine when it wins or if my country needs me badly. In Lithuania, I can help my country more with money, things and information. I want to thank Lithuania and Lithuanians very much for helping my country. You understand us very well and you are helping us to achieve victory. I am sure that we will be able to meet in a restored free Ukraine, where I want to invite all Lithuanians. And of course we must taste the most delicious watermelon from Kherson", says Ihor.