The Voices of Ukraine

“We Are Here! | Ми тут!” is our first Photobooth Action in which participants have the opportunity to record their voice in an audio booth after taking their portrait. Hear some of the testimonials from participants currently in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Inside Out Team
JULY, 27TH 2023

Over 800 people have already taken their portrait in “We Are Here! | Ми тут!” our first-ever Inside Out Photobooth in Ukraine. Whether they are holding up a prop, making a powerful face, or using their body to creatively position themselves in their portraits, these participants have declared: we are here, we are human, and we will persevere. 

This is our first Photobooth Action in which participants have the opportunity to record their voices in an audio booth after taking their portrait. There, a team member asks them to respond to the question, “What does ‘We Are Here!’ mean to you?” Many participants took some time to think about their answers and others asked to do their recording alone and express their thoughts privately. 

Already, over 200 participants have recorded their testimonies. We’ve seen a wide array of answers, but overall, participants have described this Action as an act of unity, support, love, and resilience. They have emphasized the importance of community, living in the present moment, and supporting their country and fellow citizens during these difficult times. 

This fall, all the audios collected will be available on the “We Are Here!” Photobooth page. Listen to the stories and check out the translated transcripts of some of the participants below! 

Геннадій Соколов, "We Are Here!" portrait, July 2023

Геннадій Соколов Listen to the audio

For me, "we are here" means that we leave the past behind and live in this moment, experiencing everything that is happening right now.

Katya - Listen to the audio

I want to start by saying that I am here and lately, probably for weeks, I feel like my life is becoming more and more routine. Every day I feel like I'm in Groundhog Day, and every day is the same. So now I'm here to have some fun [...] unfortunately, with age, I feel life differently. When you were young, it seemed like your whole life was ahead of you, everything was fun and cool, and even the same actions every day didn't seem sad. But now, unfortunately, it seems that routine has completely taken over life. And it's sad, but you have to entertain yourself, [...] you are the constructor of your own life. So now I'm here to expand my horizons [...] So, I'm here to be here, to live my cool life, regardless of the routine, regardless of the war that has unfortunately also become our routine.

Postemska Julia - Listen to the audio

I didn't study Ukrainian in school, I didn't learn Ukrainian at university, and it's very difficult for me to speak it. But I try to do it. And I don't understand people who don't even try to convince themselves that they can do it. I don't understand people who say they are just used to speaking Russian, that Russian is more native to them. I don't understand people who can't even imagine themselves speaking Ukrainian. Although you live in this territory, and this is your land, and these are your relatives, and this is your air, this is your sea, rivers and lakes, this is your land. And you can't communicate in the language that is here. Well, please, leave this country. I have a real language barrier. I often convince myself that I even sound very strange to myself in my head. Like, I don't feel like myself when I speak Ukrainian, but I understand that this is happening only because all my life I was convinced that I should speak Russian. After all, it was better, there was better music, there were better films, there were better TV series only from Russia. It's just propaganda, right? This is our language. I speak it.

Nadia KravchenkoListen to the audio

They flew over my sky, destroyed my beloved home, shot at the water's edge, and broke my whole world. I woke up at five in the morning from the shots of heavy guns, and by six I was packing my things, crying so much that I couldn't speak. I read fresh news; look at the heat in the locks. What is happening in this world?[...] I sleep, just listening to the sky. We don't hear enemy forces. About twenty minutes passed when the sky began to shake. It flew back and forth, I couldn't understand. I just lay there and held on tightly. No tears, no grief, no boredom. I hoped that tomorrow they would tell us that we won.

Tereza Lashchuk, "We Are Here!" portrait, July 2023

Tereza Lashchuk Listen to the audio

"We are here" for me is a phrase with a special meaning. About half a year after the start of the full-scale war, I realized that it was very psychologically difficult for me to be in Ukraine. I had a panic attack and decided to go abroad. I never thought it would be even harder,[...] I constantly blamed myself for this, and even now, when I have returned to Ukraine, I still think about how ashamed I am that I was not here for about half a year. [...] So the phrase "We are here" is for me about Ukrainians who stay in the country and about our connection with each other. 

Because after the start of the full-scale war, nowhere abroad, it seems to me, will any Ukrainian feel such strong contact with another person as with another Ukrainian. We can sometimes not even speak, we understand many things without words, which was not the case before. And it is very important for me to be here now.

Дар'я Listen to the audio

Probably, to the question 'Are we here?' I can answer in two ways. The first way is a general one, common for all Ukrainians. 'Are we here?' means, world, please notice us. We are here, we exist, we are not in another universe. And we are in reality, and in reality, this is happening to us. [...] And the second thing that specifically means 'We are here" for me, more precisely 'I am here', means that now, probably, at this time, in this period, in these one and a half years, it is harder than ever to realize myself here and now. I want to escape, I want to just disappear from this reality, I want to find myself in a paradise city where everything is available, where there are no restrictions, no fears, no dangers. [...] And not so long ago I came to the conclusion that if I am still alive, it means that my mission is not yet accomplished. It means that I am still on my way to my key mission in this life. And this means we are here."