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Krigsdagboken

Två kreatörer – Aleksandra Marchenko, Kommunikations- och Branding-strateg på flykt från kriget i Ukraina, och Carin Roeraade, Creative Director på Sanders Agency. I den här bloggen får ni ta del av dagboksanteckningar och vårt pågående samtal. Genom flykt och sömnlösa nätter. Om stort, smått, allvarligt och lättsamt. Hur ser en dag ut när du är på flykt? Hur bygger man ett eget bombskydd och, framför allt, ett nytt liv i ett okänt land?


Publicerad 10 maj 2022

Chapter 6: Letters to heroes

Ukrainians write digital letters to soldiers at the war frontline 

Aleksandra: One of my closest friends was a high level manager in the oil industry. On 25 of February he ended up in a trench with experienced soldiers in a real battle of Kyiv. Since then he has been living a life of a soldier {military discipline, exercises, sleep, fight} and says the drawing and pictures of his daughters and wife is what warms his heart every single day.   

Every Ukrainian now has a father, son, brother or a friend at the frontline of the war. Ukrainians launched a website “Hello soldier!” where people can post letters, photos or drawings to show their gratitude and support to the military. The published letters live online and volunteers print them out and deliver them to the hot areas. 

We translated a few of the messages for you.

Carin: We have been getting a lot of news about how the morale is so low among the Russians and so high amongst the Ukrainian. No wonder with this kind of support. 

Aleksandra: Because the other side acts from hate and Ukrainians are acting from love.

Dela blogginlägget:

Carin: I have been amazed by the creativity and, incredibly enough, humor coming from Ukraine during this hellish time. 

I wanted to highlight a few examples: 

Russian flagship go fuck yourself

Snake island, south of Odesa, came under Russian air and sea bombardment on the first day of Russia’s war on Ukraine. When the Russians urged the Ukrainians to lay down their weapons or be attacked, a soldier and border guard called Roman Hrybov responded by radio with
“Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”

This defiant statement quickly flew over the internet and became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance. 

The phrase has since been used in several creative ways, like these: 

Billboards have been made with the phrase and matching artwork: 


Official Ukrainian stamps, here presented by Ukraines president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

The stamps are an instant hit. Ukrainians queue to be able to buy them and on Ebay they sell for over 12 000 SEK.

PlayforUkraine: 

IT professionals in Lviv have created a game called Play for Ukraine that crowdsources cyberattacks against Russian websites. 

The game itself is simple and quite addictive to play. 

Feel like you need a pause from work? Play this for a few minutes and contribute to the Ukrainian cyber-war. 

The Brief: Prevent WW3

What can your agency do to save lives? (Honest question for Swedish ad agencies)

Can you put your amazing creative ideas to work? Rally your team around the idea of peace? Combat propaganda?

Signed by the Ukrainian creative community, this website has  “the most important brief of your life”  – urging creatives around the world to take action against the war and against russian propaganda. 

What are you waiting for? Get over there, read the brief, and pick a task. 

No need to declare a russian tank

Images of Ukrainian farmers towing away Russian tanks with tractors, shocked and amused the world. 

Ukraine’s National Agency for the Protection against Corruption (NAPC) put out the following statement: 

“Have you captured a Russian tank or armored personnel carrier and are worried about how to declare it? Keep calm and continue to defend the motherland!” 

They also explained that there was “no need to declare the captured Russian tanks and other equipment, because the cost of this … does not exceed 100 living wages (UAH248,100) ($8,298).”

Ukrainian Meme Forces

The oxford dictionary defines satire as: 

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

But a meme is just a funny picture, right? No big deal? 

If you joke about Putin, The Kreml, or Germany’s inability to support Ukraine – you control who gets ridiculed and who is doing the ridiculing. 

The Ukrainian Meme Forces gather and spread the best Ukrainian meme’s from twitter and reddit.  

From a Ukrainian point of view Aleksandra, where do you think this ability to still be creative and humorous in a time of war comes from?

Aleksandra:

Ukrainians gladly make fun of anything or anyone. Remember, Volodymyr Zelenskiy made his name on political satire. He openly criticized the government from the stage and the politicians who were the heroes of his performances attended the concerts and laughed at themselves. A sign of democracy and at the same time an efficient way to convey people’s pain. 

To make jokes about something or someone, be it your geographical neighbor or your mayor, is Ukrainians’ favorite. Vitaliy Klitschko, known as a boxing world champion, in Ukraine is also a champion of memes. I often think he purposefully provoked jokes and irony in his public communication as they made him closer to people and more “likable”.

On the information front of this war; games, memes, TikTok videos are the weapons Ukrainians use against Russian propaganda. The propaganda is based on blatant lies, however crafted smartly. Thanks to its creatives and IT talents Ukraine explains complex issues to the world in easy visual forms. Or to say it in a more professional language, produce content that quickly becomes viral.  

From a humane perspective Ukrainians are a truly life loving nation. Sense of humor and creativity are just the signs of it. A pinch of irony and a song have been a healing for those hiding from the war in their basements. And even though the history of Ukraine has been quite tragic, humorous folk art accompanied it through centuries. 

What we share now are just the digital forms of it. 

Dela blogginlägget:

Aleksandra: It’s been 50 days of Russian war against Ukraine.
Understanding what the war is didn’t come to me immediately. I look back in time and recall the moments that felt like icy wind in my head, an explosion in my chest, weakness in my legs, but also the iron strength of my spirit.
Here are a few of these personal war alerts I would like to share with you. 

February 

Woke up from the shakes of my house. Headline on a news website said: “Russia attacked Ukraine”. Switched off my phone and decided to sleep more. Thought it was the last night when I could sleep properly. 

February

A message from the government officials on Facebook not to film our army or military equipment or post the movement of the military equipment on social media. “Armed forces of Ukraine entering Kyiv to defend Ukrainian capital.” Am proud and scared, proud and scared. 

February

Asking a Ukrainian  “How are you?” now practically means “Are you alive?”.
I text my relatives and friends every morning.
A new morning routine in this new reality. 

March 

Arrived to the train station to check the schedule. “All trains from the east to the west of the country are now for evacuation,” a female voice in a loudspeaker says. Swallow this. See a platform full of men waving Goodbye to their families in the cars that depart to western regions.
“When will they be reunited?” the question blocks my throat. 

March

Watch the videos of Ukrainians in the villages trying to stop Russian tanks and cars with bare hands. They lie down on the ground and Russians actually stop. [Gone are those days] Also videos of Ukrainians who let surrendered Russians peacefully leave their land asking if they did not forget anything. Crying observing this kindness of Ukrainians. We all naively thought it must be a mistake and the Russians would lay down their arms.  

March

Headline in some international media: Ukrainians remain in the subway once the curfew is over. Their homes were blown away and they have nowhere else to go. 

March 

Relatives from Chernihiv, a town in between Belarus and Kyiv, suffer under daily bombardments and still refuse to leave their home. I keep looking for the option for evacuation until one morning the bridge linking Chernihiv with the roads to Kyiv is bombed, the town is cut off.
A few hours later I see a call for ATVs from volunteers who deliver aid from Kyiv to Chernihiv. ATVs to go through the rivers and the forests.
Pride and pain, pride and pain.

April 

Having a video talk with my friend from Kyiv who went for a coffee to the other side of the city from where she lives. A place were we met for lunch last time I was in Kyiv. In the middle of the video I hear air raid sirens {a threat of aim bombardment or shelling} in the background. She calmly continues our chat and her coffee. “F*ck Russians”.

April 

“Google Bucha” happens. And also Irpin, Gostomel, Chernihiv and Oblast, all areas liberated from Russians. Am numb for three days.
Cannot find more space inside myself to absorb this sorrow.  

April

The words on the rocket that hit a railway station in Kramatorsk say “for the children” written in Russian. It targeted people waiting for evacuation.
Feels like the warning “Sensitive content” on social media is of no use.
Every single human who already saw the photos from this war got far beyond any normal level of sensitivity. 

April

A painter Mila Gogenko draws a picture called “The Wings”. It’s dedicated to Mariupol where citizens and the army have been living in siege since 1 March. Ukrainian soldiers blocked in Mariupol film a video saying they remain true to Ukraine and continue defending Ukrainians. 

April

It’s spring and the trees are blooming. Ukrainian farmers started the sowing in demined fields. People plant the trees and flowers in liberated Chernihiv, destroyed for 70%, and Kharkiv that remains under daily shelling. In spite of the warnings of Vitaliy Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, Ukrainians come back to Kyiv. Life prevails.
Only we will never be young anymore. 

Dela blogginlägget:

Aleksandra: Today and tomorrow, April 6-7th, I will speak about Ukraine and Ukrainians on the Swedish female community HejaLivets instagram.
See you there!

Dela blogginlägget:

Carin: Everyone reacts differently. During the first days of the war, I wanted to know everything.

Get all the updates. I listened to P1 incessantly, started following Kyiv Independent’s reporters on Twitter, and donated to Unicef.

Felt inadequate, scared and restless. 

A childhood friend on Instagram asked if I had any contacts in Swedish media who might want to publish a Ukrainian woman’s stories from within the war.

The woman in Ukraine was Aleksandra Marchenko.
We kept in touch and just days after our first messages, she had to escape from where she lived due to the continuous threat of bombardment.

The more we talked, the more we realized how a like we were. 

Almost the same age, we both started our careers as journalists but have in recent years worked in marketing with creative brand strategy and content marketing. 

We’re both into fashion and like to do yoga in the morning. May sound trivial but it was those little things that united us.

And then differentiated us. 

Because while I was sitting in my safe home listening to P1, Aleksandra heard the air raid alerts. 

While I went into the office, Aleksandra lost the job projects she had planned to do. 

While I could sleep in my own bed at night, Aleksandra slept on her yoga mat in a village house fleeing from the war. 

One of us was suddenly a refugee. An identity that felt alien.

I talked to my colleagues about her. Could we help? Get her stories out to more people? Find her a job in the swedish marketing industry?

We decided we would start by listening, and scheduled to meet her in a video meeting. 

Like everyone, we’ve had hundreds of video meetings the last few years, but I don’t think we’ll ever forget this one. The strange feeling of connection and separation. Working in the same industry, with similar projects (that vanished overnight for Aleksandra) basically being colleagues, and at the same time facing extremely different realities. 

We should be able to help her, I thought. Maybe we can’t help hundreds of people or change this terrible situation, but we should be able to help her.

And if we help one person, maybe it will create a ripple effect. 

Maybe by telling Aleksandras stories we can create more awareness of the everyday life of a refugee and connect more Swedish opportunities to Ukrainian refugees.

And furthermore, we just really liked Aleksandra. She felt like a friend. 

Together, we decided that we would try to let more people experience our conversation – the heartbreak, the everyday struggle and the small things that unite us. 

You’ll find all that in this blog. 

This text is in english, in order for it to be inclusive for Aleksandra and anyone she wants to share it with. 

Dela blogginlägget:

Carin: Hi Aleksandra, how are you today? Hope you managed to get some rest 💛💙

Aleksandra: Hi Carin, I’m better. Thank you ☀️

Carin: So we have a blog now. A space to share your war diary and our conversations. 
Before we get into the unfathomable challenge of finding a new job while  escaping from a war zone, should we start with an extract from your diary, to give the readers a sense of who you are?

Aleksandra: Yes, sure. 

Aleksandra Marchenkos war diary, 03 March 2022

Most of my Instagram feed used to be about art, design and fashion.
I followed fashion weeks, saved the street styles of influencers and studied all the commercials of cool brands. Now it’s mainly links to volunteers who help Ukrainian refugees, pictures of air attacks and shelling and calls to the world for help.
When posts from fashion campaigns and shows pop up, my eyes burn.
I understand, life goes on as it should, but still these pictures with idyllic compositions feel like they are from an alien planet. 

I am from Dnipro, a city on the south east of Ukraine and one of the biggest in the country. Currently it’s the center for injured soldiers and refugees who fled from the eastern border of the country. Although the bombardments in our area are rare and random, even on a calm day it feels like the city is at war.  

I was packing my clothes the other day, to be ready to leave anytime. People shared strategies in the Telegram publics for refugees.
One small backpack with food for urgent evacuation, a small suitcase with basics plus a bigger luggage for a VIP-trip. You should be mentally prepared to throw away the latter in case there is no space for it on a train, the lines are too tight on the border control, or if there is a threat and you have to run.

Two suitcases are ready: one small with a single total look, as I used to call it in my previous life, for a change, tooth brush, phone charger, a set of thermal underwear and socks, a thin yoga mat to sit in the basement. And another bigger one with some spring clothes.

When Ukraine wins, there will be spring again in my life, I believe. 

Didn’t know what to take in the big luggage. My wardrobe is rather small as I am following basic sustainability guidelines like reselling and reducing consumption. My clothes tell the stories of my life as most items were bought during trips. They recall certain moods and memories. Not sure any of those will be relevant. Never again will I be a person who had never seen a war.
Don’t yet know how I can express it in the language of style.   

I’ve been wearing the same two sweaters and two pants since February 24, not even noticing it. Air raid sirens are regular in Dnipro, and every time we have to run to the basement. Dress code for such exercises is quite reserved.

I also do not recognize myself in the mirror. Swollen face, wrinkles, anger and pain. Ukrainians, one of the most beautiful nations in the world, are all in sorrow, blood and tears on the main pages of the media around the globe.
It is still pure beauty. This “filter” is called “strong spirit”. A real fight for survival of the nation. True love for the land and free life. 

There is no daily shelling in the city itself. I took advantage of a relatively peaceful day and had my hair cut. Was late to the hairdresser for 20 min dealing with the inner resistance. It’s sexier when it’s long. I went to the simplest salon across the street and asked to cut straight and record short.
In case of the intense rocket attacks I will need to run away from the city in urgency, and won’t be able to take proper care of it.
So now I am prepared.

Dela blogginlägget: