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Rebuilding Education During War

Our inspiring new documentary.

It is hard to say when something is truly inspiring, especially about our own work. Perhaps with documentaries is easier, you can be inspired by the people that are part of the film: this is one of those cases.

Thanks to a big coincidence, I was on a trip and I stumbled upon Steven Steger at the airport where I had to transfer. We were going to the same event from different places, but we met at the same spot at a random airport. On the way to the plane, he told me that a group of teachers in Ukraine were trying to have their textbooks printed. The budget was moved from education to the army. He said that perhaps a documentary could help them, to tell the story and get the funding that they need. I jumped on board with a big yes.

Another lucky hunch made me find some fantastic people for the team who I knew because of other projects, Gian Marco Duina was one of them. I call him because of the award received by The Right to Play and while in Ukraine for another very interesting humanitarian work, he was waiting for a videographer coming from Spain: Ricardo Oliva. The timing was perfect, I told them about the project, and they were ready to help in no time.

I had the privilege to work with many professionals, but the real hero, however, is certainly Iryna Kostyuk

On the way, I had the privilege to work with many professionals, but the real hero, however, is certainly Iryna Kostyuk, one of the central educators featured in the documentary who actually allowed everything to happen together with Steven, by facilitating the process, making all the connections and helping the crew in Ukraine. 

It was a privilege to meet all the Ukrainian people also outside of Ukraine. Speak with the kids who left their countries thanks to Maryna Kaftan and Oleksii Andrusych and people who are making a difference outside, also here in Amsterdam trying to do what is possible, like Ihor Fefelov. He helped with the film and sat with us (the editor Tarik Bahou and me), to not only do the sound design but also help with the accurate translations from Ukrainian. Last but not least it was a pleasure to work with my former student Leonardo Furore on the beautiful soundtrack of the film.

The Ukrainian war has something different from the other wars, and it is the amount of empathy that was able to spark. Never before have people started to put themselves in other people’s shoes and tried to understand, from east to west, and that fascinates me.

I went to Boston and New York, to speak with some people Like Fernande Raine and Ulrik Christensen. They are helping to create an amazing digital platform that will allow Ukrainian refugees to study in the new books, even though they are far away, missing home, but still able to study in their own language the history of their country in the context of a globalised world.

Iryna said it well in the documentary: “we do not know how much the war will last”, but we have one certainty, if things may change in the future, it will be through education and empathy and will take time, so we will need hope.

You can learn more about the project and support it at