Shevchenko is a leading campaigner and activist for female and LGBTQ rights in
Ukraine. In 2008 she founded the NGO called Insight to support this cause and
is now focused on assisting women and children with the new challenges such as
safe relocation as a result of the
Russian invasion. Two shelters in Lviv have been established to house women along
with members of the LGBTQ community as an immediate response to the war.
Olena travels throughout Ukraine to help the most vulnerable
members of society who are increasingly lacking access to basic resources like
food and water for survival.
Her organization is
completely focused on delivering humanitarian needs like relocation from
occupied cities to more safe areas in the west and surrounding nations, with
partners who can offer care including a partnership with Airbnb which provides
one month of free and safe accommodation in various cities throughout Europe.
There are currently 35 Ukrainian volunteers working in Lviv who
have been displaced from their homes, but find themselves in a position to help
other Ukrainians through Olena's organization.
A major affect the Russian invasion has had on the LGBTQ community
is an increased general fear of Russia occupying Ukraine and the potential for
torture and hate crimes directed toward their sexual orientation. This is not
an unfounded fear since this is exactly what happened in the Crimea after
Russia invaded in 2014 and Olena herself has been threatened with violence by
pro-Russia groups in Ukraine.
Olena's organization is increasingly using social media platforms
like Telegram and Facebook in order to offer essential help like mental health
services and to generally unite and ensure solidarity between this vulnerable
community. Most remarkable is that despite the extreme danger Olena and her marginalized
community faces, she has no plans on leaving her beloved Ukraine for in her
words, "somebody needs to stay."
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