Young Ukrainians at EFA22

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15 Sep, 2022


FAN-member Olena Drost who, together with more than 50 people from Ukraine, joined the EFA22 writes about her personal experiences in Alpbach and the programme her team organised at this year's event.

The programme of the European Forum Alpbach 2022 ended but I am still under many impressions of the EFA program and our Ukrainian events in Alpbach. This year I attended the European Forum Alpbach for the 7th time. In 2011 I was the lucky one to get a scholarship to participate in the program of EFA. I didn’t have any idea back then when I applied for a scholarship that the EFA will become a turning point in my life, and will make a big impact on me and my activities. In 2012 I founded an NGO Kyiv Initiative Group Alpbach (KIGA) together with a few alumni and represented the EFA in Ukraine till 2018 as a president of KIGA.

This year I was leading our Ukrainian KIGA delegation at the EFA22, which was represented by our amazing powerful Ukrainian women team – KIGA alumni, and scholarship holders: human rights defenders, young reformers, civil society activists, young politicians, specialists in energy and environment sector, lawyers, representative of the health sector. etc. Our male KIGA team stayed in Ukraine to defend the country.

This year the topic of the Russian war in Ukraine dominated the programme and was discussed from different perspectives during the events organised by the EFA and KIGA. On behalf of our Ukrainian delegation, I am very grateful to the European Forum Alpbach for their help and support for the Ukrainian scholarship holders, and for the diverse, and intensive programme of the EFA22.

Our Ukrainian delegation organised seven events in Alpbach within two weeks of the EFA2022:

- FAN Social reception #StandWithUkraine where we fundraised € 2.105 to Med Help Ukraine for medical treatment of the wounded civilians and soldiers from Eastern-Southern parts of Ukraine. According to the Austrian newspaper Die Presse the FAN Social reception #StandWithUkraine and the fireside chat aWAReness - Ukraine and the Price of Independence became the highlights of the EFA program.

- aWAReness - Ukraine and the Price of Independence, a fireside chat with our 4 KIGA scholarship holders from Eastern-Southern parts of Ukraine. Our amazing women presented the regions they came from and told their personal stories: Praskovja Bystrova civil activist from Crimea, Maria Kurinna, a human rights defender from Luhansk, Valeriya Izhyk, energy policy expert from Sumy, Maria Poloz, attorney and human rights defender from Nikopol.

- The panel discussion "The war in Ukraine and a world humanitarian crisis.", was organised jointly with the Alpbach Africa Network, Club Alpbach Iraq and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management. Speakers of the panel discussion were Ievgeniia Bodnya, a KIGA scholarship holder, professional in public policy and international development spheres supporting the Government of Ukraine in developing the Recovery Plan of Ukraine, Olga Trofimtseva, a former Deputy Minister for European Integration and Acting Minister for agricultural policy and food of Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova, a Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, Zhigger Abozaid, a President and a Founding Member of Club Alpbach Iraq and the Secretariat of the Peace and Reconciliation Working Group (PRWG) in Iraq. Blessing 'Blessyn' Kure, a multimedia personality, poet, and voice artist leveraging audio-visual storytelling for SusDev in Africa, Richard Adu-Gyamfi, a private sector development specialist focusing on promoting entrepreneurship, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), value chains and trade in Africa, Martin Frick, a Director of the WFP Global Office Germany in Berlin, Thomas Seifert, moderator and dept. editor in Chief with the Austrian daily newspaper Wiener Zeitung.

- Music-Literature Performance “Radial Waves: War in a calm pond”, created by Iryna Kupchynska, a Ukrainian writer, Robert Prosser, an Austrian writer jointly with Austrian and Ukrainian musicians.

- Sunrise Hike - United with Ukraine. Our hike started in the dark at 4 am. We were climbing the mountain Gratlspitz, which is 1,899 m high where we greeted the sunrise and created a live chain as a sign of solidarity and unity with Ukraine by holding each other’s hands and having the two-minute silence to honor the Ukrainian modern heroes, - fighters for a peaceful future of Ukraine and Europe.

- The Fireside chat "Rewriting the present: Action we can take to counter propaganda and disinformation in the Russian war in Ukraine." Organised jointly with the Club Alpbach Netherlands hosted the incredible speakers: Foeke Postma, investigator, and trainer at Bellingcat, Lisa Yasko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and Tetiana Pechonchyk, head of the Human rights center ZMINA - investigating war crimes in Ukraine and Lidiia Akryshora, a KIGA scholarship holder, freelance journalist, communication and culture expert.

- I met wonderful people this year from all over the world, I found out more about Iraq, their traditional, modern culture, the women's rights movement there, and a very beautiful nature of Iraq. I met very nice people from the African continent. Our Ukrainian-African dance workshop organised by the African and Ukrainian scholarship holders was rocking Alpbach!

It was possible to have such a fruitful, professional and effective programme due to our incredible and united Ukrainian team of Kyiv Initiative Group Alpbach, due to everyone's super active involvement and participation in the events.

Source: Olena Drost