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Light in Times of Darkness

How can young people deal with the war in Ukraine? The International Association for Education and Exchange (IBB e.V.) presented an international documentary film project at the endstation.kino in Bochum on Tuesday, 9 May. 45 youth groups from 14 European countries want to use the film in local youth work.

A documentary film project that gives hope. From left to right: Katia Henrikh, youth worker from Ukraine and line producer of the film; Roman Blazhan, director and producer; Elke Wegener, general manager of IBB e.V.; Katharina Teiting, project director Generation Europe – The Academy at IBB e.V.; Christian Seibel from the Falken Bochum; Torsten Rutinowski, head of the International Youth Work Office of the City of Bochum.

Katia Henrikh is excited. After all, the film in discussion is her story. With the Ukrainian youth organisation Duga, the 27-year-old youth worker is active in the Generation Europe – The Academy network coordinated by IBB Association. Currently, she is working with parts of her youth group in exile in Germany. But of course the situation at home does not let her go. And so this unusual project was born. After nine months, she travelled back to Ukraine – to document the hopes, wishes and fears of young people there under war conditions, together with the Kyiv-based production company Minimal Movie.

“Our film gives personal insights into what usually has no place in news broadcasts,” says Katia Henrikh. “What does everyday life look like when suddenly nothing is normal anymore? How can one continue to live, hope, learn and work under these conditions? The stories we brought with us impressively show the civil resilience people can develop. And as unbelievable as it sounds, they also give us hope. That’s why our film is a good opportunity to talk to young people about the situation in Ukraine. For this, we are developing educational tools and methods that can be used at events.”

Plans on the ground

“Of course, the war in Ukraine is always a topic in our youth projects,” says Christian Seibel from the Falken Bochum. The Falken are also active in the network of Generation Europe – The Academy. Within the programme, they organise international youth encounters, network with partner organisations from Italy and Portugal and, together with the Bochum Youth Office, support a local youth group in being active in Bochum. “Having a toolkit customised for our target group to discuss what this war means for the people in Ukraine and also for us, will be a great help.”

“The film project is a good example of what we want to achieve with our funding programme Generation Europe – The Academy,” says Elke Wegener, General Manager of IBB Association. “We create opportunities to deal with important issues across national borders. By getting local youth groups active themselves, we promote social participation and solidarity, and strengthen democratic civil society. I am proud of the work of all those involved; it is particularly important in times of war and crisis.”

The first screening of the film material in Bochum was still a non-public event for participants and project partners. But it will not stop there. “Talks are underway about how the as yet unreleased film can reach as many people as possible. As soon as something is ready, we will inform you,” Elke Wegener continues.

Generation Ukraine – a Minimal Movie Documentary | Directed and produced by Roman Blazhan and Mykhaylo Volkov | Funded and produced within the framework of Generation Europe – The Academy | Produced by Katia Henrikh | Trailer and more info