Who: Basil Lohaza
Interviewer: Katya Chizayeva
Location: New Orleans
Where are you from Basil?
Ivano Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine.
How did you find New Orleans?
I came here nine years ago because of a relationship.
What is home for you?
To be home is to recharge your strength, wherever it comes from. It can be people, places, activities. Home is a resource. You create it and build the flow. Sometimes a new home can be found, sometimes not. Sometimes there are things that give you energy, and they can’t be changed. The buildings are the easiest to change. The other things are harder to create so they would give that energy.
Please give me four words that describe how your body feels right now.
Tired, on pause.
Regime of self protection.
Working on empty.
What’s your favorite place in New Orleans?
Kuchnya Slavic restaurant at the Green Room.
And my backyard. There is a hammock, a fire-pit, plants, tools, toys, trees and birds, and now a banya that we built.
How would you describe a feeling under the skin that you are walking with?
It’s difficult currently to feel my body. It is somehow separate, somewhere else. Only when something feels bad then I get a signal; otherwise, it seems to sit in the closet separately from me.
How did the war affect your close relationships?
Some people went away, some people have appeared. I wasn’t surprised. It just sped up some processes. I am okay with it.
If you were a battery, how much charge did you have in the beginning and middle or the war vs. now?
In the beginning I was at fifty percent, then it went lower, and now it’s coming back. If earlier the basic self care like sleep, eating, routine seemed like a privilege, now it’s like a duty, there is no other way without it. In Poland I had a lot of charge because I was staying with my friends, they spoke in Ukrainian, they had daily routines, and they cooked great!
What has been helpful to you?
It’s been important to eat and to sleep. Also, it’s helpful to connect to people;, although, I have been avoiding this for the most part. When it happens it’s clearly helpful because to seek connections has been difficult.
What has been unhelpful?
Reaching too much news is unhelpful. If I do it a little it’s motivational. If the news is analytical and interesting, that works too. It seems to me that being frequently emotional is a sign of internal conflict and very often when the understanding comes, emotions go away.
How did your sense of reality change after February 24th?
At first I was in a stupor. Then I had a realization that what was before will never be the same. After that the next phase was to act. The search for what can be done, in terms of helping and on a personal note.
What actions did you take?
Continuing to work was very hard, so I closed all my work projects and began to research how to help those who are defending Ukraine. I found that I could help in three ways. They are – things, money, and experience/skills. It seems to me that the balance between these three is changing overtime.
In the beginning what was important was finding and sending things, because you couldn’t buy anything in Ukraine, and there wasn’t any sense sending money. So that’s what I was doing. With your help,. Operation “How things appear in Ukraine”.
On a global level the supply has been set up. There has been a change in perhaps focusing on rare requests or help to those who’ve suffered from the war.
What was your hardest day since the war began? Why?
I think the third. Because there was an internal shift;, I couldn’t understand how to bring a new reality into consciousness and what to do with the news. Afterwards I realized that I won’t be able to live like before, and I began to get ready to go to Ukraine.
What do you want to say to people in New Orleans?
To people who are close to me I want to say thank you for your support.
To those who aren’t close, come closer.
What is your dream for Ukraine?
My dream is for the Ukrainians to see a common future, to see what they can imagine, and work on that vision.
I want us to see ourselves, our differences, what we have in common, and what interests we have in common. To start where we are right now, not in an ideal way. What do we need, what do we want, how do we do something with what we have?
What is your dream for yourself?
I would build a house.
I don’t know.
That’s a cool dream.
Help Ukraine Locally
The New Orleans Ukrainian Resettlement group will support newly arrived asylum seekers. They are looking for volunteers and community support (rides, temporary housing, rental units, resource sharing, ESL, fundraising, childcare)
Kryla.org – Kryla is a local non profit started by Ukrainians in New Orleans to send medical and humanitarian aid. You can help us fundraise and support our local aid efforts.
If you are a lawyer consider joining Home Is Here training in asylum seeking law to provide pro bono work for Ukrainian asylum seekers. Call 504.650.1070 to speak to Julie Yeal.
If you are a musician, a venue owner/manager, or a restaurant owner please consider donating your talent or your space for our next benefit.
We are looking for new creative ways to fundraise for our medical and humanitarian aid, as well as to support newly arriving Ukrainian refugees in New Orleans.
If you are a member of a club, a business, an institution, or an organization that wants to help support Ukraine please get in touch, we are looking for sponsors for specific fundraising goals.
Contact Katya Chizayeva at email@example.com for funding support, local volunteer opportunities, or to ask general questions about organizing efforts in the local Ukrainian community.
Non Local Groups We Trust
www.Israel4Ukraine Bus evacuations, medications, food aid
www.communityselfhelp.org Grassroots support of refugees, medical, humanitarian aid in Lviv
www.koloua.com Help get vests, tactical gear, defense gear Kiev ngo that coordinates supply demand logistics
www.unitedhelpukraine.org Multifaceted US based aid, medical, army, humanitarian
www.dronesforgoodworldwide.org/ Help send drones to Ukraine
www.posmishka.org.ua Women and children, displaced families, orphanages Zaporozhskii region
Poliska hospice from Dongass region of 65 elders can be reached at their Facebook. If you want to donate to hospice you can email the director Evgenii Tkachev firstname.lastname@example.org