The war in Ukraine is leaving its mark on the entire world. It is not just the conquered borders or armed conflicts between armies. The truth is that tragedies accumulate. Individual stories of people broken by a war they do not understand.
It is what one finds when stepping foot in Amoami for the first time. A sewing workshop that supports Ukrainian women, who arrive in our country without knowing where to start or who to turn to. A social project in which refugee women sew “as therapy” creating “Amigurumis”, teddy bears in Ukrainian clothingas a way of expression and raising the voice of those who suffer in the East the wrath of others who want to dominate them by force of arms.
These are just some examples of the thousands of evacuations of citizens seeking to escape the horror of an invasion that has besieged them for months. Something that leaves a special mark on the little ones: “my niece, upon arriving in Poland, asked me: ‘Are there tanks here?’” says Yulia, one of the women who regularly goes to Amoami and who arrived five months ago. to our country, but that has been greatly affected by what is happening.
In our conversation, Yulia recounts one of the most extreme situations that human beings face in times of war: the death of family, friends and even strangers, a loss suffered so closely that it seals an indelible memory. And it is not always a consequence of bullets. This is the case of her friend, Andrij, a colleague at the pharmacy where she worked and who had been fighting cancer for months that she happily seemed to have overcome last February. However, the war caused a shortage of medicines. Medicines that she needed to keep the cancer that was chasing her at bay. This lack of effective remedies against her illness caused her to worsen to such an extent that it cost her her life last June. “Another way to kill people is to take away what they need, and it is something that is not talked about, that is not seen.”
Anna, a classmate from the workshop, joins our talk and tells us something we didn’t expect. Others like their parents have decided to return to Ukraine just a few days ago. “It was clear to me that they had to stay here. But for them it is like survivor’s guilt syndrome, a feeling of guilt that accompanies those who have managed to save themselves.” Meanwhile, their relatives did not have the same luck or decided to risk staying to defend their parents’ land from the Russians. “They have been living with us for five months, but they have decided to return. We have tried to get them to stay, but they had decided. “It is a very hard situation,” she says.
Amoami, knitting to heal wounds
These stories are part of the puzzle that is “Amoami”. A project that was born from the hand of Rafael Jiménez Alcaide and Rita Ruiz, designer of the pattern of the Ukrainian “amigurumis” and who would be the seed of the project. “Sewing not only serves as a livelihood for them, but as a way for them to channel their pain for everything that is happening in Ukraine.”
Amoami has a clear objective: create a community in which refugees in all corners of the planet can connectto. La Casa Encendida was the first meeting place in Madrid; but it doesn’t stop spreading. Refugee communities in Switzerland. Germany and France have joined this initiative and are already thinking about extending it to other social causes.
“When they arrived last April, their voices could barely be heard. Only the jingling of the needles. Now they are a united group sharing the hardest experience of their lives”
Rafael Jiménez Alcaide, founder of Amoami
“Amoami has evolved a lot and so have they. When they arrived last April their voices were barely heard. Just the jingling of the needles. Now they are a united group sharing the hardest experience of their lives. “The general mood has improved a lot, although each week is different depending on the news they receive from their families in Ukraine,” Rafael tells us, who is constantly ensuring that these women receive the attention and material they need to reduce anxiety. that they live daily. Something that they all share and appreciate when we ask them what Amoami means to them and that They describe themselves as a “group of friends who share a love of sewing.”
“I have a lot of family there (Russia), my grandmother, uncles and many friends who do not want to understand what we went through in Ukraine”
Meanwhile, in the East, families and friends, in a mixed relationship between Russians and Ukrainians, are broken daily. This is how Yulia, whose mother is Russian, whose feelings are deeply Ukrainian, tells it, something that distances her from her own mother: “there is a part of the family that is in Russia, and we don’t speak to each other. I was not supported by them after buying the speech of the Russian leaders. “They think I’m exaggerating, that I’m not telling the truth.” The same thing happens to Olena with relatives in the neighboring country: “I have a lot of family there, my grandmother, uncles and many friends in Russia who do not want to understand what we went through in Ukraine. They perceive what I tell them as false and do not believe me. My own family. The Russians don’t believe it’s the truth. And they think that our television gives us false information, they only trust their media. They don’t want to hear about those who die, about children…”
Amoami’s next challenge is ambitious. Reach the borders of Poland and Romania to continue helping the victims of a war that unfortunately is losing interest in people’s memory. This is where projects like Amoami are most important. Because what is not seen does not cease to exist.