One year after Russian invasion, Ukraine House hosts Kidsave
On Feb. 8, Kidsave— an international organization that advocates for older kids in the foster care system— partnered with the US-Ukraine Business Council and the Ukraine House in Washington DC to launch their new campaign, Flat Sasha. This is one of the organization’s many initiatives to mark one year since the Russian invasion.
Flat Sasha represents a young Ukrainian orphan who was displaced during the war but was rescued by Kidsave. A spinoff of Flat Stanley, Flat Sasha is a cartoon that can be printed out and taken on the go to raise awareness about the need in Ukraine.
Kidsave was founded more than 20 years ago by Terry Baugh and Randi Thompson, who witnessed the reality of children in orphanages in Russia and Kazakhstan. When visiting these orphanages, they saw that older children especially—who were on the brink of aging out of foster care— had been neglected with no welfare program in place to support them. Thus, Kidsave was born with a focus on helping children ages 7-18 find families.
The nonprofit has since grown in the U.S. and internationally, helping thousands of children through mentoring and adoption programs. Kidsave currently operates in the U.S., Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Ukraine, where it was established in 2016.
In Feb. 2022, Kidsave was working to expand their network in Ukraine when Russia invaded, transforming their welfare efforts into rescue efforts. Since then, a team of more than 300 people on the ground in Ukraine, called the “Angels of Hope,” have helped more than 30,000 children and their families get to safety and provided humanitarian aid to those in need.
“There is not enough attention right now to Ukraine. Children in particular are the most vulnerable and are bearing the brunt of the war,” said Thompson, Kidsave’s CEO. “When this war ends, that’s when the real work starts. We have to help the families that have been separated and children who have been traumatized.”
In addition to launching the Flat Sasha campaign, Thompson spoke at the Feb. 8 event about another initiative, the Kidsave Miracles Center, which is currently under construction in western Ukraine to support families and children of all ages coming out of the war.
“This new center is going to serve many purposes,” said Thompson. “First and foremost, it’ll be a place for people who have no place to go. It will also be a place where working teens can intern… a connection camp where orphans can meet and get to know potential families… and the center will offer war trauma training.”
Thompson was joined by president of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Morgan Williams, who said their network is in full support of Kidsave’s initiatives. The council is focused on their own two goals in the country right now: pushing Russian president Vladmir Putin out of the country and rebuilding Ukraine.
If you would like to learn more about Flat Sasha and how you can help, visit kidsave.org.
Guzmán speaks at event honoring Pedro Martínez
On Feb. 9, in a heartfelt ceremony hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez formally donated his baseball cleats from 2004, a baseball used at the World Series of the same year, and one of his emblematic #45 jerseys. Martinez was born in the Dominican Republic and played as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. He was instrumental in helping the Boston Red Sox earn their World Series win in 2004, the first since 1918. Dominican Republic Ambassador Sonia Guzmán and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino, Jorge Zamanillo, spoke at the event. This donation, representing a first by a Dominican-American athlete to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino, is expected to be inaugurated by the end of 2024.
Canadian embassy exhibit honors indigenous culture
The Canadian Embassy’s latest exhibit brings a new perspective to horse racing and indigenous culture. The INDIAN. RELAY. exhibit made its debut in the embassy’s art gallery on Feb. 1, which depicts North America’s oldest extreme sport. More than 50 photos by Canadian photographers Jason Lawrence and Julie Vincent line the walls of the gallery, in addition to a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Duncan McDowall showing the sport in action.
The Indian Relay is a competition between teams of four, where one rider races three laps, switching to a new horse at the start of each lap by jumping from one to another. Two teammates hold the awaiting horses, while the fourth catches the arriving horse. The first rider to cross the finish line after the third lap wins.
Lawrence and Vincent fell into this project in 2018 when they met a man who sustained a leg injury from the relay. Intrigued, they followed him to his next race for the opportunity to catch some action shots, but instead were welcomed into a community full of vibrance, excitement and anticipation. They spent the next several months documenting the Indian Relay in Alberta, Canada, focused not only on the race itself but the sport’s deep roots of indigenous culture and family tradition.
The sport was established in America more than 500 years ago among native communities when horses were reintroduced to the land. Competitions have been maintained in states such as Idaho, Montana and South Dakota, as well as Canadian territories. Lawrence and Vincent’s work tells all dimensions of the sport, from war paint on the faces of the competitors and their horses, to the spectators that gather for the race.
While Indian Relay is a male-dominated sport, the photographers incorporated women into their project, who are credited with the creation of the traditional dress and the war paint designs for the racers. A few photos show women and children involved in the relay, many in tribal communities who learned how to ride before they could walk.
The Canadian embassy is hosting this exhibit to symbolize the close relationship between the U.S. and Canada, both which have deep roots in native tradition. The sport is gaining rapid popularity in Canada among indigenous tribes and those outside native communities, and the photographers hope this exhibit will allow the viewer to get a close encounter with their culture’s tradition of family connection.
INDIAN. RELAY. is on display now at the Embassy of Canada’s art gallery until May 31.