How a Lyndeborough mom is tracking events in Ukraine in real-time for global policymakers
In the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a grassroots organization formed to document the violence and share photos and videos with the world. That organization, Dattalion, was founded by a group of Ukrainian mothers and has since found support from volunteers in the U.S.
Among those volunteers is Sarah Chadzynski, from Lyndeborough. Chadzynski has been working with women from Dattalion to get the word out to policymakers in the U.S. about what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine.
“What Dattalion is doing is creating [a] live-time, accurate, logged database of the real events happening in Ukraine right now so that policymakers, not just in the U.S. but around the world, can make effective change and really direct support where it's needed to Ukraine,” Chadzynski said.
That database is updated regularly. The photos, of families, children and the destruction in Ukraine, are hard for Chadzynski to look at.
“It is extremely difficult. It is heartbreaking,” she said. “It is the exact reason why I am putting my time as a volunteer into this work.”
A mother of three herself, Chadzynski said photos, like those in the album “Children on the War in Ukraine,” are painful to see. But they’re necessary in order to make people, including people in positions of power, see the scale of devastation in Ukraine over the past month. Chadzynski said she thought about those photos when she put her kids to bed the night before.
“I tucked them in last night and I sat there for a minute looking at them, and my heart goes out to all of the mothers, the parents, the family that are tucking their children in, not knowing if they're safe. Not knowing how they're going to get food for their children, how they're going to get water, [or] how long the noise and the bombs are going to last,” she said.
Chadzynski has been filling her days with calls to politicians to disseminate the evidence members of Dattalion have collected, and ask for support from the U.S. She says those in New Hampshire who want to get involved can do the same, or support organizations like Dattalion or Friends of Ukraine.
Below is a transcript of Chadzynski’s conversation with All Things Considered host Peter Biello:
Peter Biello: Dattalion's mission is to document what's happening right now in Ukraine. Why is it important to get photo and video evidence?
Sarah Chadzynski: I think one of the most important pieces here for us to understand is that the information that is coming from Putin and other Russian media is not accurate. And what Dattalion is doing is creating [a] live time, accurate, logged database of the real events happening in Ukraine right now so that policymakers, not just in the U.S. but around the world, can make effective change and really direct support where it's needed to Ukraine.
Peter Biello: This database, linked to Dattalion's website, is a Google Drive and there are various folders that sort this information. I took a look through this morning and I want to mention one thing that stood out to me in the "Children on the War in Ukraine," there's a photo of one child with a woman, possibly his mother, and they're both looking at an open casket and the boy is wearing a Paw Patrol shirt. And the expression on his face is just so heartbreaking. Sarah, I'm wondering what it's like for you to look at these photos and videos.
Sarah Chadzynski: Sure, Peter, thank you. It is extremely difficult. It is heartbreaking. It is the exact reason why I am putting my time as a volunteer into this work, into spreading the word, into calling policymakers' offices, into meeting with senators' offices. Because what is happening is heartbreaking beyond words. It is something that has kept me up at night for the last, going on a month now.
Peter Biello: How has doing this work changed your view of the war?
Sarah Chadzynski: I think it has brought it home to me more. I have personal family lineage connection to Ukraine as well as to much of Eastern Europe. I am also a mom. I have three children and I tucked them in last night and I sat there for a minute looking at them, and my heart goes out to all of the mothers, the parents, the family that are tucking their children in, not knowing if they're safe. Not knowing how they're going to get food for their children, how they're going to get water. How long the noise and the bombs are going to last.
Peter Biello: We hear from many people in New Hampshire who want to help Ukrainians. What do you tell people when they ask what they can do to help?
Sarah Chadzynski: So, there are a couple organizations that they can donate to. And one of them is the Friends of Ukraine who are doing direct work with humanitarian aid and working in partnership with Dattalion, as well as supporting information coming from the Ukrainian embassy of where the need is the highest. Right now we're working on raising funds to get ration packs and Dattalion is grateful for any sharing of information. Anyone who wants to volunteer to help, we are here and accessible and you can reach out directly to us.
Peter Biello: Sarah Chadzynski is a volunteer with Dattalion, a grassroots organization documenting the violence in Ukraine. Sarah, thank you very much for speaking with me.
Sarah Chadzynski: Absolutely.