Two Worlds but One War
By Tamu Bakery, Jan 21 2016 06:26PM
"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’" ~Eve Merriam
November 2013. Peaceful Odessa, Ukraine. My sister's wedding.
My dad - "So where are you planning to go next to empower women?". "Not sure yet, but I am sure I will find out soon. I am waiting for some kind of sign".
December 2013. Verona, Italy. Airport.
Waiting for my flight. Looking at the destinations board. Tirana, Albania. Something clicked inside me.
February 2014. Cornwall, UK. Skype conversation.
"Dad, after a long search for my trip, I am off to Kosovo. Something is telling me this trip isn't just about delivering help in Kosovo, I feel I will learn what is waiting for Ukraine...."
"We are having a crisis, but it won't come to anything as serious as war".
May 2014. Gjakova, Kosovo. Medica Kosova office. Conversation about international marriages.
"So women in Kosovo sometimes marry guys from Macedonia, Albania...Sorry for my insensitive question.... but why even 15 years after the end of the war do women here still refuse to even talk about Serbian men?" - me.
"I shall give you just one example. We are aware of some cases of violence during the war when Serbian soldiers would force a father to rape his own daughter in front of the whole extended family..." - my colleague from an organisation helping women affected by the war.
May 2014. Gjakova, Kosovo. Medica Kosova office. Baking session with local women.
"We have heard about the conflict in your country.... Poor people of Ukraine. We know what it’s like." - my fellow bakers. Conversation goes on about a village nearby where 500 men and boys were killed in a massacre during the years of unrest.
July 2014. Cornwall, UK. Tamu Bakery Fbook post.
"Dear supporters of Tamu Bakery,
Thank you for your concern and support regarding the situation in Ukraine! Next Friday I am travelling home to visit my family and to see for myself what is going on. I have heard from my parents that a refugee camp has been set up close to where they live, so I am planning to visit there and help as much as I can. What I am asking here is I am ready to donate one week of my time from this Friday baking cakes for you all in return for a small donation towards helping the women and children of Ukraine who are currently displaced. Please get in touch and share this with your friends. If you know me and my fight for equality, I hope you will help. God bless you all and I wish you never see your country in the news like mine. Lots of love, Tamu"
August 2014. Mayaki, Ukraine. Refugee camp.
"Here are some toys, children’s books, baby wipes and tampons for women, nappies and clothes for disabled people and some pictures for you all from children in the UK" - me on a microphone in front of 200 refugees.
"Thank you for your help" - says an apparent female leader taking our bags.
"Where are you from? Are your relatives OK" - me.
"I am from Street N in Donetsk, next to my house there is ongoing fighting. Lots of dead and guts everywhere" - said the woman.
August 2014. Cornwall, UK. Writing this blog.
"Dad, you said our conflict wouldn't get as serious as the one in Kosovo. But it did. Women in both places have lost their children, husbands and brothers. And I don't know how to explain to your grandson why mummy had to go to help women affected by war in his favourite and before today peaceful Ukraina".
"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war" - Yana Spencer