Elena Mironenko, the head of the social organization “Maryam”, has received one of the awards of the city competition “Kyivite of the Year”.The award ceremony took place at the Museum of History and the winners in different nominations received awards from Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko.
“Today we traditionally award our women. The women who have realized themselves and done a lot of important and useful things for our city and its inhabitants,” – says the Mayor.
13 Kyiv women of different professions have received the awards. Among them, there are human rights defenders, crisis managers, public figures, as well as those who are involved in charity work.
Elena Mironenko has received a diploma and an award, becoming the winner in the “Charity” nomination.
“I am just a part of our big family. And it pleases me that our organization was noticed and noted at the city level.It is certainlydifficult for us to evaluate ourwork because no matter how much we have done, it seems that we could have done more.But to receive such an award from the hands of the Mayor is evidence that our activities bring benefit to society. “
It is worth reminding that last year the organization “Maryam” held a number of charity events, including those aimed at combating the pandemic.For example, activists of the organization made and distributed thousands of reusable masks. Moreover, after the opening of the Center for Gender Equality, Prevention and Counteraction to Violence in Kyiv, “Maryam” regularly provides it with food and basic necessities.The activists of the organization also participated in providing assistance to hospitals and other medical institutions, orphanages, families of internally displaced persons, and low-income people.All this work was noted by the city authorities and the Kyiv community.
Activists of Ukrainian Muslimahs’ League (UML) held an event in the heart of Kyiv on the occasion of World Hijab Day. Nazma Khan, an American Bengali, founded the event several years ago. Since then, millions of women around the world celebrate this day every year.
On February 1, UML activists held a photo exhibition about successful Muslim women.
“First of all, we have launched this initiative to show the people that it is Muslim woman’s personal preference of wearing a headscarf,” says Olena Myronenko, one of the event launchers.
In addition to the exhibition, the activists held a workshop on tying the scarf on the head. They offered the passers―-by to try on a hijab and take a photo in a new look. Olena Myronenko said the idea was women who decided to try on the hijab could feel like Muslims at least for a while. And despite the frosty weather there were a lot of those wanted to see how they looked like in hijab.
“It’s sensible and pleasant,” admits Maryna, one of participants in out of the box event held by Muslimahs. — But it’s more than that. I have always wondered how Muslim women tied the headscarf so beautifully. And now I know that there are some secrets. Besides, covering hair is correct both according Muslims and Christianity beliefs.
Another event participant, Olha, has put on a hijab for the first time. She smiles while setting the headscarf:
“I really like it,” the girl says, looking at herself in the mirror. “Firstly, it is very comfortable, and secondly, it is warm, my ears are fine. I would even go around outside like that. I think hijab is also comfortable in summer.
These and similar reviews prevailed among women who took part in the event held by Ukrainian Muslimahs’ League. In activists’ opinion it only went to show that such events were urgently needed:
“This gives us an opportunity to break certain stereotypes about Muslim women,” says Suzanna Islyamova, UML activist. “In addition, we once again emphasized that the hijab is primarily of spiritual significance. This is not just part of Muslim woman’s’ appearance.
Let us recall, that in the next two weeks, Ukrainian Muslimahs’ League are to hold Hijab Days in several other cities of Ukraine.
In the last days of 2020, Ukrainian Muslimahs’ League (UML) held the personal growth training for teenage girls in Kyiv.
“We have long understood that Muslim girls, especially teenagers, need such trainings,” says Olha Fryndak, UML deputy head. “Such events let us reach several goals at once. First, teenage girls from different cities of Ukraine have the opportunity to meet each other; secondly, we are scrupulous about the educational part of the seminar, teach the girls with certain practical skills; thirdly, we organize their joint recreational activities, encourage a teamwork feeling.
The training brought together 35 young Muslimahs from Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kyiv and Kyiv oblast. Due to quarantine restrictions, participants from several other cities couldn’t come. UML used to hold the trainings on personal growth twice a year, but this year there was no such opportunity.
“Therefore, we decided to expand the training program to three days,” says Olha Fryndak, “so that we could share more information with our teenagers and make more time together. In addition, we were to give them a tour on the third day”.
The schedule was very busy indeed. Sheikh Haider al-Haj, a Hafiz from Kyiv ICC, taught the lesson on Muslims’ moral and ethical values. The lesson was based on the example of Maryam, prophet Isa’s mother (peace be upon him).
Sheikh Tariq Sarkhan’s lecture focused on the proof of God’s existence. The way the lecturer presented the information was out-of-the-box: Sheikh Tariq suggested thinking about the answer to the question: “If the Almighty is the Creator, then who has created Him?” A part of his speech was devoted to the peculiarities of the inviting to Islam in our day.
Vira Fryndak, the first Ukrainian hafizah among women, had a talk about the Quran with the seminar participants, and gave several tutorials on the Holy Book studying.
There was also a workshop for girls on the basic graphic design principles. Marharyta Bodretska, the tutor, talked about the design basics, free applications to help you start learning this field, showed examples of how to choose the styles properly, what tools to use when creating pictures and graphic presentations.
“Within such trainings, we usually raise some hot issues that bother teenagers. We are trying to talk it over with them, help them confide in and find a solution together. This is very important when you are a teenager,” says Olha Fryndak. “In previous years, we came up with different formats, involved specialists, psychologists. This year we decided to hold some kind of informal discussions “Between us girls.”
Anastasia Radovelyuk, the Master of Sharia Law, was the main moderator of the informal conversation. The key topic was haram and halal: the participants discussed the issues of allowed or forbidden things, welcomed or undesirable according to Sharia. First of all, of course, they touched upon the issues the teenage girls regularly face as they grow up.
The participants not only shared their thoughts, but also held debates. Divided into two teams, they tried to defend opposing points of view on the topics raised: about the fascination with social networks, negative developments among the youth, including drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking, etc.
The last day was about useful and educational activities. The girls visited Kyiv Museum of Science. During their two hours tour, they went on a quest which the museum guides had prepared especially for them, then went through the halls and explored by their own the exhibits with audio and video stories.
According to Olga Fryndak, up to 50 participants used to come to these trainings from all over the country in previous years:
“Of course, this year the quarantine forced us to adjust our plans. Nevertheless, we are pleased to have held this training, because online cannot replace live communication itself. Talking eye to eye with these girls is important for us, likewise seeing and hearing us in the same way are important for them.”
The participants confirm the words of the organizers by saying that the seminar has given them an opportunity to discuss the issues they were worried about, and has become a good round up of the “lockdown” year.
Ukrainian Muslimahs League is happy to announce that freshly printed copies the first-ever Ukrainian children’s book about Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, came from the publisher! It’s emblematic that the publication is to be printed in the Month of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) birth.
This illustrated edition is meant for free distribution at RAMU Ummah mosques. Author of the book, Ms.Alina Martynova, is well-known to many of you as the author of the children’s stories published in “Arraid” newspaper. Her family, originally from Donbas, became Internally displaced persons now residing in Lviv, and volunteering in her free time.
The idea of the book first came out two years ago. Having discussed it with the Head of the UML, Ms.Martynova got to work, and in 6 months the text was ready. The book tells the story of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in a way that makes it interesting for children of elementary-school age, explaining who the prophet had been as a person and as a Messenger of God, and why he had become the great example to follow for every generation of Muslims.
Ms.Tetiana Yushyna, an illustrator, read the text and was excited by its simplicity and clarity, so she made her input in the cause and did the illustrations.
By the way, it’s e-book version will be for free download as well, so that little Ukrainian-speaking Muslims from all over the world can get a copy!
Every Saturday at about noon needy people start gathering near the Zaporizhzhia II Railway Station Park. They know that at 12:30 Muslimahs from WO “Safya” are coming, and are willing to extend a helping hand in unloading and carrying the heavy bags to the distribution site. Having done their part, they get in line and wait patiently.
Some salad, rice with chicken, chicken stew, bread, tea and cookies make a banquet for both the homeless and the “homely” folks who struggle to make ends meet; whose income is hardly enough to cover the utility bills, the simplest medications and bare minimum of the cheapest staple food (mostly grains).
The volunteers thank everyone who supports the initiative either personally or financially, for every small donation allows them to feed several people more.
The volunteers noticed a certain correlation: the lower the temperature outside, the more people come for a hot meal. The prime cost of one portion is ridiculously low, just UAH 30. What can be served for that money? Considering that the volunteers don’t include the value of their own time, labour and consumables (like fuel) in the prime cost, just the food, there’s a full meal served for each person: a bowl of soup or borscht; a platter of pilaw, buckwheat or cooked whole grains; a piece of meat or chicken; a slice of bread, cookies, a sandwich and a cup of tea. Sometimes they even manage to treat their clients with fruit.
On 28 August, volunteers of Women’s Social Organisation “Maryam” distributed school supplies they’d bought in terms of a charitable benefit “Ready for School!”. Joint efforts of many people resulted in helping needy families from Kyiv, Zhovti Vody, Yahotyn, Sumy, and Zaporizhzhia, significantly easing their financial burden for three years in a row. Most of such aid is directed to grade-schoolers.
This year, unindifferent people once again didn’t let those families down. One good-doer bought 45 schoolbags and spent another UAH 5,000 on office supplies; another brought UAH 2,000; another UAH 4,000 were donated by many to the charity’s special bank account; someone from Rivne city sent a large box of office supplies — not to mention many people who also bought the office supplies they could afford and personally brought them to Kyiv ICC when attending the mosque.
School bags filled with everything necessary have found their owners. We wish glorious academic records for the schoolchildren, and God’s many blessings for the good-doers!
Last weekend, Ukrainian Islamic Cultural Centres through the combined effort of Ukrainian Muslimahs League wrapped up the World Hijab day with final themed events. “Bright”, “interesting” and “momentous” are only a few of titles generously posted by guests of those events on social media, along with their headscarf-clad photos.
Muslimahs in Vinnytsia held their Hijab Day on Saturday, 8 February. They dispelled stereotypes about “Muslimahs imprisoned in their homes and kitchens” by telling, in particular, about their own volunteering projects and holding a fashion show by Vinnytsia Muslim designer Nafisa Roziyeva. They also did headscarf styling for everyone interested, and treated the gathering with tea and sweets. To wrap up the ladies’ party, they invited some men to perform a traditional Arab dance for them.
In Dnipro, Hijab Day was held on 9 February by the local women’s organisation “Blagodiya”. They also started with dispelling stereotypes that headscarf is for sure a means of oppression, and that a Musimah is only capable of unqualified work (in case she does have a job). They spoke about successful Muslimahs from all walks of life, as well as of the religious background that makes modest clothing important for those women. The organizers also did a fashion show, demonstrating modest clothes of different styles, some with references to different ethnic backgrounds, and did a workshop on styling kerchiefs and headscarves. Besides treats, the guests were offered to participate in a quiz and win some presents.
Zaporizhzhia Muslimahs also held their Hijab Day on 9 February. They also spoke about the stereotypes and the importance of the concept of hijab (modest clothing) for female followers of Islam; mentioned successful Muslimahs; recalled some Ukrainian traditional headdress and different ways of its styling. Besides, this year’s kicker was a performance recreating Henna Night, a Crimean Tatar bridal shower. According to one of the organizers, Ms.Niyara Mamutova, that was their natural way to develop the last year’s topic of wedding traditions of different regions of Ukraine (then represented by a ceremony of tying a kerchief over the newlywed woman’s head during the wedding party. This time the guests learned about the wedding arrangements of Crimean Tatars: how the presents are delivered, how the bride is dressed while everyone is singing and telling stories, how the bride’s arms are decorated with henna patterns and how she and her future mother-in-law greet each other in order to show their mutual respect. And, of course, treats were available not only for the performers of the Henna Night, but for the guests as well: tea, coffee and sweets were offered to everyone.
On September 15, the volunteers from the Maryam Women’s Organisation held an educational event “I Love Mary, Mother of Jesus, Because I’m Muslimah.” The project was also supported by Tariq Sarhan, a representative of Mercy for Mankind international initiative. It should be noted that volunteers — Margarita, Daria and Olga — are also members of the Mercy for Mankind group, and such educational campaigns are coordinated through the initiative’s group on Viber.
On Sunday, a small number of the group members could come, but a lot of people were interested in getting the information about it, as a “Animal Rights March” was going in Mariinsky Park at the same time, and there were much more people than usual. People whose hearts are open to the world became a great audience: they were coming to the stand, asking questions, warming up with tea and coffee, participating in a quiz, having awarded with sweet prizes at the end – fragrant honey puffs.
The organizers were pleasantly surprised that many of those who came up to them already had a basic knowledge of Islam and Muslims, so the quiz was easy for them. Even the kids showed good awareness! Others, on the contrary, were coming up to due to lack of knowledge: they wondered what connection was between Mary and Muslimahs. And they were told that Muslims respect Mary very much, and know not only about her life, but also about the lives of her parents and relatives; mentioned in Qur’an, which includes the whole Surah named after Mary, and the miracles associated with this righteous person are mentioned in great detail.
It was interesting to communicate with a group of devote Christians: they found much in common with Muslims concerning their knowledge and attitude toward that person. They noticed differences as well, but discussed them with respect for each other’s views. The two groups shared even their contacts with each other, and Christians promised to visit Kyiv Islamic Cultural Centre, noticing that they would not change their religious views, though. They were assured that no one would require it from them: They were just asked to come with peace and hearts open to dialogue and building the bridges.
Ukrainian Muslimahs League not only holds events in different regions of Ukraine, but also has enough experience to share abroad. Thus, Head of the League, Ms.Olha Fryndak, who had a private visit to Moldova in August, was invited to give a lecture for her sisters in faith from Moldovan muslimahs League. The meeting took part on 18 August.
Ms.Fryndak exemplified her lecture with success stories of Muslimah volunteers from different regions of Ukraine, who, despite having jobs, education in process, and kids, managed to find time for being useful for both the local communities and the overall Ukrainian Ummah and Ukrainian society. By not dividing Muslims and Non-Muslims, the UML’s volunteers share true information on Islam and combat stereotypes, strenthening interfaith peace and cohesion.
According to the lecturer, who had already spoken for Moldovan Muslimahs several years earlier, she was really happy to see the increased activity of her Moldovan sisters in faith. She mentioned that last time, there have hardly been a dozen women in the audience, while, three years later, now there were over three dozen.
The cooperation wasn’t over after the lecture ended: the MML asked Ms.Olha to make a training on organizing and coordinating the team’s work as well. So a week later, on 24 August (Ukrainian Independence Day), they had another meeting where they learned how to analyze the situation, set goals, define their abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and define what they were eager to invest in the cause and what was their targeted audience. They also spoke about working as a team, developing common rules and sharing responsibilities.
Each participant got some homework which they have to send to their trainer in September. That must help them define their main fields of work and how they are planning to grow in order to fulfill the roles chosen.
30 female activists of All-Ulkrainian Muslimahs League, coming from Kyiv, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Sumy, participated in educational recreational camp that the Association held in Slavske on 8-13 July. That wasn’t just a mere chance to get away from it all and leave everyday duties behind, but also an opportunity to gain more knowledge they could make use of both in this life and in the Hereafter. There was a novelty adopted from this year’s children’s camps, namely evening campfire stories.
The agenda was well thought-out to cover both the physical and spiritual recreation: there was a time for prayers and individual worship, time for morning jogging, and a balanced diet. After recharging, both physically and spiritually, in the morning, the participants began their day of study.
During the very first Qur’an lessons, the women were given a clear and achievable goal: they had to memorize the 56th Sura, The Inevitable, and present their results during a closing recitation contest. Of course, the best reciters were awarded.
During trainings, they spoke about the emotional burnout, establishing connections with different types of personalities, student-teacher ethics, general communication ethics, sisterhood in Islam and morals of everyday deeds. They recalled respective examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. The participants also learned how to perform the last favour one Muslimah can do for her sister in faith: washing and shrouding the body for the funeral.
Of course, the programme also included sport games outside and excursions. They visited Shypit waterfalls, Synevir lake and a ropeway to Gemba mountain.
One of the participants, Ms.Ruslana Martsinyshyna, shared that mountain jeeping was her personal favourite:
— We didn’t use the road that made a huge detour, but we just made our way straight ahead, with both any type of road and even some plane stretches of land unavailable. Riding across all those rocks and ditches was a pretty scary thing to do, so we tried not to look down, but God, how beautiful it was around us! You can’t see that from a bus traveling on a regular road.
When asked what she liked the most about this year’s camp, she replied:
— A chance to be among intimates of sisters in faith, with whom you have shared values and desire to grow and develop and learn something new.
Can anyone understand a woman better than another woman? Who can answer the most delicate questions in the fullest? For women do have problems that men find hard to comprehend, and only a woman with a respective training knows both the theory and its practical implications.
On 23 June Kharkiv Islamic Cultural Centre hosted a meeting with a guest from Dnipro, namely with the only female member of RAMU “Umma”Shariah Counsil, Ms.Anastasia Radoveliuk. Among the topics raised there were, for instance, balance of modesty and modernity in a certain cultural conext, limits between a Muslimah’s personal style and undesirable choice of clothing and accessories, appropriate attire for different situations, basic rules of using makeup and perfumes.
There were more delicate questions as well, like periods and postpartum bleeding. The participants were reminded of religious rulings on different aspects of life during those periods of vulnerability and of the practical meaning of those rulings for a woman’s health. Everyone had an opportunity to discuss even the most delicate matters and get full extended answers.
Noteworthy, the meeting was facilitated by Ukrainian Muslimahs League.