I am a first generation Ukrainian American.
My beautiful Mom is Ukrainian + immigrated with her family here to the United States when she was a young girl. Over the last few days, I have watched in horror at the events taking place in Ukraine right now. My heart has been heavy with waves of grief as I witness the traumatic wounds of our people being ripped open yet again. The hardest part about the events unfolding in Ukraine right now is that it is like watching what happened to our grandparents in real time. History is repeating itself. Once again, Ukrainians flee our land to Poland while others stay behind to fight. For many years, the Soviet Union tried to minimize the atrocities taken against the Ukrainian people. Now the world sees Russia's acts of violence + aggression against the Ukrainian people for themselves.
My prayer is for Ukraine to find peace + our people find healing.
My Ukrainian grandparents
During the first few days of the war, I kept thinking of my Baba. I kept recalling her childhood story of her village being invaded + burned down to the ground in WWII. She ran into into the forest in the dead of winter with her family to escape. Her mother froze to death in those woods. My Baba, the oldest daughter, was now responsible for caring for her 4 siblings. They survived by hiding cans of food + potatoes in the ground. Stories like these are hard to imagine when you grew up in the United States + do not have to fear if a bomb is going to be dropped on your home. Unfortunately, it is not a story that is unique to my family. I think that most Ukrainian family histories have a war torn story... war + hardship have been no stranger to the Ukrainian people. And despite all that these people have been through, Ukrainians remain as a beacon of beauty, integrity + the resiliency of the human spirit. One thing I can say for certain is that my Ukrainian family has taught me is that being Ukrainian means to have an iron will + a heart of gold. These people are fiercely loyal, loving + determined. We may wear flowers in our hair but we have the spirit of the warrior.
Inspired by Ukrainian crafts
Crafts + handmade goods are an important part of Ukrainian culture. My Baba was a gifted textile artist. Even with all the hardship she endured, she still wove beauty into the world. She made traditional Ukrainian clothing + embroidery. (She made the tapestry + shirt I am wearing in the photos above). My Baba is the person in the family who I take after the most. She is definitely where I get my artist gene + spiritual gifts from. I too am a crafts artist. I am a metalsmith + jeweler by trade. In the first few days of the war, I knew I needed to use my craft to be of service; to help Ukrainians in need. Inspired by Baba, I began handcrafting a Ukrainian Tryzub pendant to sell as a way to raise money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. To be honest, I think that this whole Ukrainian Tryzub fundraiser project was Baba's idea! I could feel her spirit with me as I was making it in my jewelry studio.
The Tryzub (trident) is the Ukrainian cote of arms. It is a Ukrainian symbol that has been around for hundreds of years. Because I believe that jewelry has the power to connect us + amplify our intention, I designed this pendant as a prayer for peace in Ukraine. It is a symbol of the inner warrior of the people in Ukraine right now standing up to defend their home, their culture + everything they love. As a first generation Ukrainian American, this project is a way for me to honor my Ukrainian heritage + raise money to donate to Ukraine.
I am donating $100 with each Tryzub pendant sold for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. All donations will be made through the Ukrainian National Women's League of America. My Aunt, Roksolana, was a very active member of this organization. The last time that Russia invaded Ukraine, she went there with UNWLA to help injured Ukrainian soldiers + their families. UNWLA passes along 100% donation funds directly to Ukraine.
Show the world you stand with Ukraine with a Tryzub Pendant! I know I will be wearing my proudly! Slava Ukraini! 💙🙏🏼🇺🇦