While the whole of Holland is turning orange, yellow-blue dominates today at the Apostolic Society’s square in Hilversum. A group of Ukrainian refugees introduces Hilversummers to their culture and customs and also want to express their great gratitude with this friendship market.
Behind the large Dutch flag with a pennant, which waves high in the flagpole of the church community, the Ukrainian flag dominates. The smaller varieties hang like garlands under the tents, across the square and at the stalls where the Ukrainian women have their things. Music is booming from the speakers of the country that has been under attack by Russia since February 24th.
“Today we would like to thank the Dutch people for taking such good care of us,” Gulnara said on behalf of the group of organizing Ukrainian women. “We also want to show and hear our culture, food and music,” she adds.
So what is typically Ukrainian in terms of culture? For example, Gulnara says Ukrainians are real family people. They like to eat together, to sit at the table for a long time, and it sometimes even results in singing. It unites and is fun, she explains.
In the past, the refugees received on Heuvellaan have already shown their gratitude during a clean-up operation on Maundy Thursday. See the article with video below.
When talking about Ukrainian food, one immediately thinks of borscht. The cups of vegetable soup – containing beetroot – are in high demand in the church square. The same applies, for example, to the warm sandwiches with minced meat. “It’s very tasty, although I do not know exactly what’s in the sandwich,” says visitor Gert van de Steeg.
Yesterday, the group prepared for King’s Day with a yellow-blue hue. The women made the Ukrainian delicacies in the kitchen of the nearby Lopes Dias town hall. Despite having a cook in their midst, it went until 10pm before they were ready, says Bauke van der Molen Kuipers, predecessor of the Apostolic Society.
One of the other typical things is to make a flower arrangement. Under the guidance of a few hostesses, visitors can make their own at the yellow-blue booth in the center. When the outfit is finished, it goes on right away and the cell phones come out of the bag to see how it turned out, and then record it digitally.
Twice a week, the Apostolic Society is home to a group of about twenty refugees who practice art therapy here. On Sunday and Wednesday, they make art, meet and talk to each other. This is done under the supervision of an expat who speaks Russian and is a psychologist. During these sessions, the women may change their minds and seek the support of the counselor or each other if necessary.
Some of the drawings that the women have made are shown on the third booth. There are several dontaie poles on the site. It is not possible to buy drawings, but visitors can donate money. The collected euros go back to art therapy.
as a family
“You learn to look at the country in a different way,” says the Hilversum priest about the refugee group’s initiative. In recent times, he and the many volunteers of the church community have gotten to know the women better. At first they were a bit reserved, but now that they have encountered each other more often, that distance has disappeared. “What’s happening here now feels like family,” says Van der Molen Kuipers.
Finally, Gulnara says that the group with their initiative indicates that they want to get to know the Dutch better. She expresses the desire to become friends. The idea is to show gratitude and to make and leave a positive impression when they can return home. At any rate, dozens of visitors to the friendship market appreciated the initiative on King’s Day.