The team of “Our House” spent the last month of spring actively assisting refugees from Ukraine and Belarus. We also continued to monitor the human rights situation in Belarus and inform European politicians about it. May will also be remembered for the Forum of the Democratic Forces of Belarus that was held in Warsaw. You can read more about our working results of May 2022 in our review.
Our journalists posted 38 materials on the Russian-language website of “Our House”. Among them, we published nine monitoring reports. Eight new materials were added to the “Defense and Solidarity” campaign. We published 11 thematic texts in the framework of the “NO means NO” campaign. Journalists raised the topic of children-328 three times last month. Three more articles appeared as part of the “Non-Children Play” campaign.
In May, we continued holding voice chats on our Telegram channel. During the month, two guests spoke to the subscribers. We also continue producing YouTube videos on relevant and topical issues. Our team released five videos on our YouTube channel in May.
You can read about Our House’s activities on our social media channels. In May 2022, we published 36 posts on Twitter about our activities. There were 21 posts on the “Our House” Instagram account. We also posted 60 stories and released seven videos. Olga Karach’s Instagram account published 22 postings, 71 stories and seven videos. “Our House” main Facebook account published 38 posts in May.
In the office of “Our House” in Aušros vartų g. 3 in Vilnius, the humanitarian aid deposit continued working. In May 2022, we distributed more than 7 tons of clothes, dishes, toys and household items. During the last spring month, 316 families visited the warehouse.
We continued to hold English and cooking classes for children on Saturdays. We have held English lessons three times, with an average of 12 children attending each class. Cooking classes were held twice in our office. Up to 9 children attended each class.
We have not forgotten about the adults either. Two English classes for beginners and one for the Intermediate level were held and attended by an average of 10 people. Four times we met at art classes for children and adults. Our office guests learned how to draw with coffee, weaved bracelets and made crafts. On average, 16 people attended each class.
Also, in May, a food drive was launched at “Our House”. Thanks to our partners – the organization Maisto Bankas – Belarusian refugees were twice supplied with slightly over 480 kilos of food for 98 persons. We assisted 34 families.
“Our House” speaking about Belarus at the international level
On 9 May, Olga Karach spoke at the “Strong Women – Strong Europe” conference in Frankfurt. In her speech, Olga Karach emphasized the unique and difficult situation that Belarusians experience. She also spoke about the work of “Our House” on providing help to refugees and about the “NO means NO” campaign.
On 23 May, Olga Karach took part in the meeting of the working group on women’s rights at the OSCE. She spoke about the issues faced by Belarusians in Ukraine, who had first escaped from terror and repression in their own country and then found themselves in the middle of warfare. It is the first time since the war began that the issue of Belarusian women in Ukraine has been raised at a high level.
Also, on 23 May, Olga Karach spoke at a rally in support of Ukraine held in Vilnius. It was attended by Verkhovna Rada member Maria Ionova, public figure Valdas Bartkevičius, the Lithuanian Justice Minister Evelina Dobrovolska, a member of the Seimas Foreign Affairs Committee and a former Lithuanian ambassador to the USA Zygimantas Pavilienis, and the creative director and representative of Creative Sich Community Ganna Mark. Olga Karach stressed that Lithuania has been actively supporting both Belarus and Ukraine and thanked all the Lithuanians present in their native language.
Lukashenka’s regime versus “Our House”
Two events took place in May at once, which we cannot but note because they show the absurdity of the decisions of the illegitimate regime of Belarus and the desire to avenge the truth by any means. On 5 May, “Our House” was recognized as an extremist formation. It is the sixth time that Lukashenka’s regime called our activities extremist. For the extremist formation establishment, its leader can get punished under Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code for up to 10 years in jail, while the participation in an extremist formation is punishable by 3 to 7 years of imprisonment.
On 11 May, “Our House” received an official message from Twitter, where representatives of the company informed about the request from the National Data Protection Center of the Republic of Belarus demanding to delete either the publications or the whole account of our organization. The regime also demanded the deletion of the accounts of Malanka Media, Belsat and BELAMOVA.
Political and public activities
The main meeting of “Our House” in May was the Forum of Democratic Forces held on 16-17 May in Warsaw. About 150 people registered for the event, and over 80 people attended offline. The important outcome was the unanimous decision that Belarus is currently under Russian occupation. Olga Karach raised another significant topic – the problem of political prisoners and the need to change the criteria for recognition of a person as a political prisoner.
Despite all the obstacles from our detractors, we continue helping Belarusians and Ukrainians and voice those topics that many are silent about. It is significant to talk about Belarusians and put Belarus back on the agenda as a territory illegally occupied by Putin, as a territory where human rights are violated. We hope that in June we will have even more opportunities to help, more friends, more partners, and we will become even closer to defeating the regimes of Putin and Lukashenko.