Mariia – Ukrainian Champion of Local democracy

In war, it is always the most vulnerable people that are affected the worst. So, when the war started in her country Ukraine, Mariia Tyshchenko understood that she had to act as fast as possible and refocus her work to identify and support groups of marginalized people. Finally, and with help from others, she managed to evacuate 42 persons with disabilities from Kharkiv to Malmö in Sweden.

Mariia is here presented in our series “Champions of Local democracy”

About Mariia

Mariia Tyshchenko is an expert in social cohesion and integration of gender and diversity issues into social-economic activities. She has spent over 15 years working with the promotion of equal rights in Ukraine and with UN Women. In 2011 she founded the non-governmental organization “Poruch”, a community of volunteers co-operating to implement charity projects, of which she is the Executive Director. Since its foundation, the NGO has been actively participating in carrying out a number of social events, educational projects, and training initiatives, many of which were realized with the support of international donors. The aim of the organization is to raise a new generation of leaders by promoting volunteer movements and contributing to the development of civil society in Ukraine.

Mariia is also active as an PhD, an Associate professor of Vadym Hetman Kyiv National Economic University in Ukraine, and in ICLD as a mentor for participants from Georgia and Ukraine within ICLD International Training Programme “Human Rights Based Approach”.

She believes we always can do more together to create peace, and she has therefore headed the project “Inspiring Peace in Ukraine: development of children and young health through nonviolent development of conflicts”. The aim of the project is to assist schools in the development of peacebuilding and mediation by spreading the culture of peaceful conflict resolution among children and youth.

Taking refuge in Sweden

Maria and her son took refuge in the city of Malmö with assistance from the Malmö University SAYP (Swedish Institute Academy of Young Professionals) Outreach Initiative that support Ukrainian alumni to safe living and working conditions in Malmö in the time of war.

While Mariia was travelling through Europe to Malmö Nataliia Bovkum, another Ukrainian SAYP alumni working in Ministry of Social Affairs, reached out to Malmö SAYP Outreach Initiative asking for support to evacuate 42 persons with disabilities from Kharkiv.

They contacted Mariia asking for her to engage her network to provide accommodation in Poland and transport to Malmö, which was provided by Fundacja Akademia Obywatelska. In addition, they reached out to their longtime partner FIFH Malmö Parasport Club to mobilize the right support for the group in Malmö. Through the joint network of all involved temporarily housing and necessary care was provided to everybody. In addition, a former Poruch intern Justin Santana who was in Ukraine in 2018 and Axel Andersson that is Head Chef of a restaurant in Malmö, mobilized restaurant owners and food wholesalers and succeeded to fill the bus with 5 tons of food that was distributed all over Ukraine by volunteers in Mariias NGO Poruch.

“There are not enough words to express our gratitude and feelings to all who were involved”, says Mariia.

At the moment Mariia has, with the support of SAYP Malmö, gathered some of her employees and volunteers in Malmö. This “Malmö Poruch Office” support all kinds of actions Poruch is carrying out in Ukraine. She is also preparing for an ICLD Local Democracy Talk about Ukraine that will take place on the 17th of May and volunteering in FIFH.

Picture of people
Some of the people of the group who evacueted from Kharkiv. Photo: Mariia Tyshchenko.

Personal development, when shared, influences and inspires social development.

Mariia believe that building a better, peaceful, and prosperous future with equal opportunities requires good people working together and to jointly take steps with higher values towards these enlightened, practical developmental goals.

“Personal success is built upon the wisdom of others and a personal effort to integrate this learning into everyday life. When we stand upon the shoulders of giants, we see further, and we achieve much more.”

“Personal development, when shared, influences and inspires social development,” Mariia says.

Mariia calls this ‘The Ripple Effect’; progress ripples from person to person and from group to group; and betters life in our shared world. “We have begun to ‘ripple’, let’s continue together!” says Mariia Tyshchenko.

About our series Champions of Local Democracy

Within this series, we tell personal stories about individuals who inspire others and let democratic values live on. Regardless of gender, status or the burdensome situations that they might have endured, they have never backed away from the democratic frontline. Our champions have been, or are currently, a part of our operations at ICLD. Read former portraits.