To hope: A magazine documenting the resilience of the Ukrainian people

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© Sasha Maslov.

Featuring 34 largely Ukrainian photographers, To Hope presents moments of beauty, strength and peace, raising funds for organisations offering aid within the war-torn country

On 27 February 2022, three days after the Russian invasion, Grant Lewandowski began his journey to Ukraine. Via military checkpoints and against a background of gun fire, he made his way to Zhytomyr, a city in the country’s north west. The American NGO worker and photographer was there to provide aid to Ukrainian orphans with disabilities. However, after just four days, Lewandowski and the women and children he was supporting were forced to flee.

© Ira Lupu.

After several months of living safely in Germany, Lewandowski began to ask himself how else he could help the people of Ukraine. Deciding action was necessary, he set about curating a magazine, Сподіваюсь (To Hope). “I thought about how I could use photography to highlight, aid, and give voice to the struggle I witness every day and the national photographers I admire,” he writes in the publication’s introduction. “…I believe photography has the possibility to give space for reflection in a world violently divided.”

On sale today, To Hope presents the work of 34 photographers – many of whom are themselves Ukrainian – including Sasha Maslov, Ira Lupu, Maria Matiashova and Alec Soth. Amid the destruction of war and the fear of displacement, these photographers captured moments of humanity, peace, beauty, rest and strength. As Lewandowski sets out in To Hope’s introduction: “I am not Ukrainian and I don’t know what it is like to be pushed out of your home, but everyday when I see firsthand how resilient the Ukrainian people are it gives me hope that this restoration and a better Ukraine will exist.”

© Tommy Sussex.
© Zhenya Trifonova.

“The publication has the reality of today’s chaos and tragedy, but is far outweighed by the beautiful imagery of the Ukrainian landscape and people”

Funds raised from the sales of the magazine will support two organisations helping Ukranians affected by the war: Kyiv Angels and Livyj Bereh. Kyiv Angels is a group of around 50 young locals who supply food and medicine to families and the elderly living below the poverty line. Livyj Bereh do similar work on the left bank of Kyiv’s Dnipro River and, since the de-coocupation of the city’s suburbs, have been working to expand their support, delivering communications devices and tents to regions badly affected by the war.

To some, photography may not be an obvious medium to employ in supporting such work. However, since the beginning of the invasion, photographs have played a key role in documenting and sharing the Ukrainian experience of war. “That is the origin of the publication’s title ‘Сподіваюсь (To Hope)’,”  Lewandowski says. “The word in Ukrainian is a verb, an action. It is not always easy to ‘To Hope’ – that is where I believe photography has an essential role in creating and maintaining hope for even the most broken and beaten people. That is why the publication has the reality of today’s chaos and tragedy, but is far outweighed by the beautiful imagery of the Ukrainian landscape and people.”

To Hope is published by Nighted Life and is available to purchase here.