The new radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adapt to Prague

PRAGUE (AP) – This is a call from Radio Ukraine.

A new internet radio station in Prague has started broadcasting news, information and music about the daily problems of some 300,000 Ukrainian refugees who arrived in the Czech Republic after Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine..

In a studio in the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work together with absolute beginners to provide refugees with what they need to know in order to settle in the new country as best they can.

The 10-member staff brings together people who have fled Ukraine in recent weeks with those who have lived abroad for years. No matter who they were, their common goal was to help their Ukrainian compatriots and their homeland, who faced a brutal Russian invasion.

Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in Prague, said she could not refuse the offer to become editor-in-chief.

“It was for my people. For people who really needed help, who needed support, something that would help them start a new life or start their life here after they went through very bad things trying to escape from Ukraine, ”Churikova said.

Employee Sofia Tatomir is one of those who left to escape the war. A 22-year-old resident of Kalush in the west of the country was planning to move to another city in Ukraine, when one morning a friend called: “Sofia, the war has just begun.”

Her parents and older brother decided to stay at home, but wanted her to join her aunt in Prague.

“It happened suddenly,” she said. She got on a bus alone in Čarniucie and 28 hours later arrived in the Czech capital, a city she had never visited.

“When I was already abroad, I remember a moment when I was crying and trying to buy a ticket and couldn’t write which ticket I needed. It was very difficult, ”she said.

Tatomir worked as a graphic designer and singer in Ukraine, graduating as a publisher and media editor. Broadcasting was part of her university training. To her surprise, her aunt’s brother found a job vacancy for a new Ukrainian radio station.

She said she needed “some time to realize that not everyone can be at the forefront of war and everyone should do what they do best.”

“So here’s how I encourage myself: that I’m doing my profession, that I’m doing what I can best, and that’s the best way I can help our people, I can help Ukraine,” she said.

Safe in Prague, she was still trying to come to terms with the invasion of her homeland.

“It’s awful,” she said. “I still can’t find any logical explanation for what they do and why they do it. In the 21st century war? Why? We were a peaceful nation. “

Another announcer, Margarita Galabrodskaya, was working as a copywriter for a program company when she received a call from Churikov, whom she knew during an internship at Radio Free Europe.

“I used to think crazy people who get up early, ready to work from 6 am, and now I’m doing it, and I really like it,” – said Galabrodska. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to be useful to my country, even though I live so far away.”

For 12 hours every weekday – and 11 hours on weekends – Radio Ukraine broadcasts Ukrainian and Western music, presenting news from Ukraine and the Czech Republic along with information for refugees every 15 minutes. It contains detailed information on where they can get the necessary documents from local authorities, how to get a job or treatment, or how to find a place for children in schools. Children can also listen to Ukrainian fairy tales.

The native of the southern city of Nikolaev Galabrodsk has been living in the Czech Republic for eight and a half years. After the invasion, she traveled to western Ukraine to meet her mother and 9-year-old sister and take them to safety. In Prague, she drew them into her air.

“My mom, for example, told me she wanted to hear what she shouldn’t be doing here. For example, she can’t park her car where she wants, like in Ukraine, ”she said.

The idea to launch the station came from Bohemia Media, which operates several radio stations in the Czech Republic. She provided the studio and her people collaborated with the Embassy of Ukraine, the local Ukrainian community and others to make it a reality in just three weeks. It also covers salaries.

Project director Lucas Nadvornik said it was planned that the station would operate as long as necessary. The main task now is to make as many potential listeners as possible aware of its existence.

One of them is Sofia Medvedev. The 23-year-old web designer could not hold back tears as she told about a recent six-day trip with her mother and younger brother from Mykolaiv to Krakow, Poland.

But in Prague she joined the groom and Radio Ukraine helped her adapt to a new life.

“I am so amazed at the opportunity to listen to Ukrainian music when I am not at home. I feel that I am not alone, ”she said. Her only recommendation for this is to invite a psychologist to “advise Ukrainian refugees on how to fight the survivors’ syndrome and how to fight depression.”

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Follow the coverage of the AP war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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