ARTdespite at the Vernissage

How art helps children in a war-torn environment

February 13th, 2020
Verena de Lange, News from Berlin

It is only a small room, but it packs a lot of colour and excitement. Adorning the walls are photographs and paintings, in the space the chairs lined up perfectly to watch the piano on stage. Most of the paintings look highly professional, and appear to be made by experienced artists. However, the opposite is the case in the ARTdespite exhibition in Charlottenburg.

Marina Bondas is a Ukrainian violinist based in Berlin; when the war broke out in Eastern-Ukraine she decided to set up the charity “Heart for Ukraine” so she could raise money for humanitarian help in the region. This would then be distributed directly by her contacts in the area. When she was travelling to the smaller cities and villages in Eastern Ukraine, she saw how the war impacted the children, who very often have no way of getting psychological help to deal with their trauma.

And so Musik Rettet was born. The project is run by established artists and international volunteers. They set up summer camps in Berlin, meant for children and young adults who live in Eastern Ukraine. Before the group travels to Germany, the participants also explore Kyiv and Lviv, and get to know the Ukraine outside their living environment.

For a couple weeks, the children get to experience German life and take classes in painting, photography and music. During the time they spent in Berlin they work on a group painting. Exactly these group paintings are now up for auction at the Vernissage. The proceeds of the auction will go to funding next year’s summer camp. On top of this ms. Bodas organizes events, such as musical and lyrical performances in order to raise money. These also take place regularly in the Vernissage.

In art, the children find a way to escape their reality for a while, and it helps them to express themselves in a way other than words. Some children who arrive at the camp have already experience with art and just need some more guidance, others are less certain about their talents. In the end, all of them are pleasantly surprised by the final version of their paintings, and  some even recognized a skill in themselves they did not even know they had.

Upon return to their homeland and continue, several of the children continue working on their art, and others never pick up an instrument or a brush again in their life. But no matter what happens in the future, all of them have had a really good time and take the memories with them.

A charity auction and concert will take place at the 29th of February at 19:00. Free entrance.


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