Community of Ukrainians “Obereg” in Astana
Tatyana Shirmer is the Head of Public Association “Community of Ukrainians “Obereg” in Astana, which was established in 2003. “Obereg” is the community that tries to develop and preserve Ukrainian language, culture and traditions. Tatyana Shirmer told about the activities of Public Association and answered the questions of our edition.
—Could you tell us about the history of “Community of Ukrainians “Obereg”? How many Ukrainians are there in your community?
—Ensuring inter-ethnic and inter-religious consent, civil unity is an important condition for the development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Today, Kazakhstan is the home to more than 130 nationalities, it has formed its own model of interethnic consent, which has received high assessment in the world community. Our country has developed a unique formula for the development of culture and languages of all ethnoses, we can and should be proud of.
Ukrainians make a worthy contribution to the historical chronicle of multinational Kazakhstan. According to the results of the Second national population census in the Republic of Kazakhstan held in 2009, the total population of Kazakhstan amounted to 16 million 4,8 thousand people. Being the fourth largest ethnos in the country (333.2 thousand people), ethnic Ukrainians accounted for 2.1 percent of this number. As of 1 January 2016, the total number of Ukrainians, according to the Statistics Committee of Ministry of Economy of Kazakhstan, amounted to 289,724 thousand people. Places of the residence of our compatriots are Kostanay region (78 thousand people), Karaganda region (45 thousand), Pavlodar region (36 thousand), North Kazakhstan region (36 thousand), Akmola region (35 thousand).
The most important activity of the state in the sphere of interethnic relations was the implementation of a balanced language policy, which makes every citizen of Kazakhstan able to create, love their homeland, respect the freedom of other people regardless of their religion, nationality and culture.
The propriety of the chosen course of the country is confirmed by the work of the Public Association "Community of Ukrainians "Obereg" of Astana, which was established in 2003. This was an important decision for Ukrainians who lived in Astana – the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. There were native speakers of language, culture, traditions, who united for preservation of ethnic integrity, spiritual values of the people of Kazakhstan and formation of the all-Kazakhstan culture. "Community of Ukrainians "Obereg" of Astana and 10 regional Ukrainian ethno-cultural associations are part of the Republican Association of legal entities "Rada of Ukrainians of Kazakhstan".
—Could you tell about the name of your Public Association? Why did you give the name “Obereg”?
—The name of the Public Association contains an important meaning: "Obereg" is an object that keeps away, protects from anything. We set the goal of our activities: to protect the native language from oblivion, to preserve good traditions and customs, the original culture of the Ukrainian people, to educate Kazakhstan patriotism, to strengthen the unity of the people of the country. Ukrainian Sunday school "Ridne slovo", youth wing "Charivni Dzherela", vocal and choreographic ensemble named after N. Litoshko, seamstress’ club "Bereginya" contribute to it.
Priority of the activity of the Assembly is to educate the younger generation in the spirit of tolerance and inter-ethnic consent. Sunday schools are focused on solving this problem through the study of the language, history, customs and culture of the people of Kazakhstan.
—Is there a Sunday school at the Public Assocation?
—It is symbolic that 2008 was declared the Year of Ukraine in Kazakhstan and it was in February when Ukrainian Sunday ethnolinguistic school "Ridne slovo" began its work. The main purpose of the school is to afford an opportunity the students of different nationalities to study the history and culture of the Ukrainian ethnos, to instill in students the understanding of human values and morality, to provide an opportunity to learn the Ukrainian language.
Study of traditions and customs, the Ukrainian language, music, arts and crafts, choreography, classes of puppet theatre is carried out at Sunday Ukrainian school. Teachers conduct activities that help solving the problems of Ukrainian and Kazakh ethnopedagogics. These are national holidays of the calendar cycle, state holidays and significant dates of Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
The work with youth takes a special place among the priority directions of Public Association "Obereg". A youth wing "Charivni Dzherela", which was established in July 2005 with the aim of promoting the activities of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan in the sphere of regulation of the rights and legitimate interests of young people functions at the community. Members of the youth wing take an active part in significant events held by the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, Public Association "Community of Ukrainians "Obereg" of Astana. There are training clubs at the youth centre, where participants develop an active civic position on various aspects of society, master classes, seminars on arts and crafts, flash mobs, sports competitions. Gala concerts are held with the participation of youth creative teams. As part of the President's Decree given at the XXVI Session of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, the youth wing "Charivni Dzherela" successfully implements long-term social projects: charity social project: "Let's give happiness to children" and the project "International social and environmental action "World Cleanliness Day".
The youth wing, conducting its activities and participating in the events of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, makes its contribution to the formation of the tolerant environment, strengthening of public accord and peace in the country, preservation of the spiritual values of the people of Kazakhstan, building, development and formation of Kazakhstan's statehood.
—Do you have any ensembles or dance and vocal groups?
—The trademark of the Public Association is the vocal and choreographic ensemble named after Nikolai Litoshko. The ensemble is marked by diplomas and certificates of the Ministry of Culture of Kazakhstan, the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, Republican Association of Legal Entities "Rada of the Ukrainians of Kazakhstan", the Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Kazakhstan and other. People in the ensemble are inspired and skilled. The programme of the group is extensive, selected from the best songs of the Ukrainian song heritage. The members have extensive stage experience. The ensemble is a welcome participant of international, national and city festivals all the years of its musical life. The creative team performs a charity programme in "Medical and social institution for the elderly and disabled"in Astana, in the Motherhood and Childhood Centre, in "SOS Children's village in Astana", at the concert venues of the city. Those who came to listen to the Ukrainian singers for the first time would definitely come next time: sincere words of songs, beautiful women and men, bright costumes fascinate. Through its activities, the ensemble preserves and promotes the cultural values of the Ukrainian ethnic group in the Republic of Kazakhstan, contributes to the strengthening of inter-ethnic dialogue and unity.
In June 2018 the capital House of friendship began its work, where ethnic and cultural associations are located and work. Public Association "Community of Ukrainians "Obereg" has the space, where household utensils, masters’ crafts, in other words, the picturesque museum of the folk crafts are presented. The exhibits of the museum are the works of the creative team "Bereginya", its members are wonderful masters. The masters try to preserve and multiply all cultural characteristics. Members of "Bereginya" embody them in various details. These are “motanki” dolls, embroidered towels and paintings, various objects of decorative and applied art. The creative team has repeatedly participated in international, national and city exhibitions. High professional level of skilled workers was awarded by the Republic of Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Masters do embroidery, knitting, weaving and baking. They can prepare a variety of dishes of Ukrainian cuisine. Flour products (pampushki, cakes, haluski, dumplings with the most different fillings: from cottage cheese, potatoes, cabbage and berries and other), products and dishes from meat products: (Ukrainian sausages, cured pork fat and other), vegetable and dairy products (ryazhenka, syrniki) are very popular in Ukraine. One of the favorite drinks is compote – pot licker of fruit or dried fruit ("stewed fruit and berries"). Ukrainian borshch is very popular too. Cured pork fat and borshch are a kind of culinary symbols of Ukraine.
—Your national clothes are really beautiful and colourful. Can you tell about them?
—At all times, the national clothing was a real symbol of the country and demonstrated the culture, traditions and characteristics of the people. One of the examples of rich culture and history is the Ukrainian national costume, which can be seen in the office of "Obereg".
Women's costume consists of embroidered shirts, skirts, corsets or vests, national shoes. A necklace “girdani” or “koralle” is worn on the neck and a handmade wreath of flowers “ochipok” or “chiltse” is worn on the head. The men's suit consisted of a shirt, trousers with a belt, peasant’s overcoat and hats.
—What about your national music and instruments?
—Music is the soul of the Ukrainian nation. Musicality, smoothness and melodiousness are the main features and peculiarities of Ukrainian music. You can see your favorite Ukrainian national instruments – bandury in our Ukrainian corner under the roof of the House of friendship. The most common folk musical instrument of Ukraine is the wind one: sopilki (it also can be called the pipe), flutes, spring whistles, pipes and telinki, which differ both in appearance and number of holes. Among the stringed instruments bandury, kobzy, basoli, torbany, tsimbaly, played by the poets and the hymners were popular.
The House of friendship unites people of different ethnoses with the cultural origination, being a priority tool for the implementation of the goals, objectives and ideas of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, created on the initiative of the Leader of the nation N.A. Nazarbayev to address issues of inter-ethnic consent. It is unique and still never repeated, model of unity of the people, which acts as the core mechanism of harmonization of society for more than twenty years, which embodies the ideas of friendship, tolerance and joint development of cultures and traditions of all Kazakh ethnoses. The Kazakh model was highly appreciated by the entire international community and was successfully presented to the UN and translated into 60 languages. For the whole world, it has become a model of social stability, an example of preserving and strengthening the balance of interests of different ethnoses and faiths. The creation of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan is the result of the policy of the state to unite all people, to create a community of stability, a community of joint work, to develop friendship and interethnic unity.
—Could you tell about your cooperation with other organization?
At the XXII session of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan Head of state N.A. Nazarbayev directed all charity events in the country to be held under the auspices of the APK. Participating in the event “Karavan miloserdiya" Ukrainians contribute to the charity, in order to show mercy, humanism and selfless mutual assistance, as the main factor of social consent and national unity.
The Association closely cooperates and provides assistance to "SOS Children's village Astana", these are the children left without parental care. We provide targeted charitable assistance to children with disabilities, hold charity events for veterans and the elderly. Funds from participation in the first charity festival "Damdi Fest" were transferred to the Charity Fund "Voluntary Community "Miloserdie" for the treatment of children who suffer from diseases incurable in Kazakhstan and assistance to orphanages.
"Community of Ukrainians" Obereg" is awarded with the letters of appreciation and personalized gift of the Corporate Fund of the village SOS Austria, the letters of gratitude "SOS Children's village Astana", Temirtau, Ust-Kamenogorsk. "Community of Ukrainians "Obereg" became one of the winners of competition of social projects "Meyirimdilikten – birlikke" at the Republican Congress of charity organizations.
The community closely cooperates with the Ukrainian centre of science and culture of the Republican Association Legal Entity "Rada of Ukrainians of Kazakhstan" at L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University. Annually it organizes and participates in the International Shevchenko readings, round tables for significant and memorable dates of Kazakhstan and Ukraine, conferences. Together with "Rada of Ukrainians of Kazakhstan" we hold International and Republican festivals of Ukrainian folk art, ethnic fashion marathons, various exhibitions, recitals dedicated to the memory of the famous poet who united two brotherly people of Kazakhs and Ukrainians – Taras Shevchenko. Today, the focus of the Association is learning the state language, because the knowledge of the state language increases social mobility in the economic, political and cultural life of the state several times, it is the key to equality, the ability to participate fully in the social and political life of the Republic. Members of the Public Association attend annual courses of the state language, organized by the Committee on Languages. Every citizen of Kazakhstan, graduating from high school must be fluent in Kazakh and English. This is the task of our President, who takes care of every Kazakhstan citizen to be competitive both in our country and all over the world.
Our Ukrainians are happy to tell their foreign "tribesmen" about the land, which became their homeland – beloved Kazakh country, maintaining contact with the Ukrainian diaspora around the world. International cooperation has been established with representatives of the Kazakh community "Birlik" in Ukraine (Kharkiv), Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Shevchenko National Reserve in Kanev (Ukraine).
Public Association "Community of Ukrainians "Obereg" is a member of "World Congress of Ukrainians" since 2006. Mr. Ratushny, the newly elected Chairman of UWC (Ukrainian World Congress), went on his first business trip to Kazakhstan. He first visited Kazakhstan and took part in the International festival of Ukrainian folk art as a guest of honour.
The Public Association takes an active part in public discussions, round tables, dialogue platforms, conferences, forums, congresses, international, national and city festivals, exhibitions of Ukrainian folk art, it is engaged in charity, writes reviews in support of the initiatives of the Head of State, gives interviews to TV channels, newspapers and magazines on topical issues of the formation of civil society of the capital and the republic. It is the initiator and organizer of international projects.
The Public Association was given Honourary diploma of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev for contribution to the promotion of stability, unity and harmony in the country. “Obereg” is granted letters of gratitude, recognition and diplomas of the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, Akimat of Astana, Ministries and departments of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Republican Association of Legal Entities "Rada of Ukrainians of Kazakhstan», Embassies of Ukraine in the Republic of Kazakhstan and other organizations for the worthy contribution to strengthening of unity of the people of Kazakhstan, public consent and Kazakhstan patriotism, for the contribution to strengthening of unity and intercultural dialogue, for the achieved success in preparation and carrying out various events in the capital and the Republic, for the powerful contribution to strengthening of friendship and cooperation between Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
We are proud that the fate has given us the opportunity to live in a such beautiful country where everyone, regardless of nationality and social status, can learn, work, develop their language, culture and traditions. Thanks to the wise, balanced policy of the Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev multinational Kazakhstan lives in peace and harmony, has common goals and common thoughts aimed at consolidating society around the basic values, which are based on independence, stability, peace, harmony and unity.