First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska talked about the directions of her activities in 2022 in the conditions of Russian aggression against Ukraine. In an interview with Vadym Karpiak during the United News telethon, the President's wife said that the duties of the first ladies, especially during the war, are not regulated, so she had to decide for herself what a priority for the country is and where she will be able to bring the greatest benefit. Therefore, her work focused on several directions.
- Evacuation of children with oncology, orphans abroad, care of family-type orphanages.
"And now I continue to take care of evacuated children from orphanages. Often in a new place, they do not have the conditions they need. So we provide everything," the First Lady said.
- Diplomatic mission, in particular, speeches in the US Congress, the UK Parliament, in the UN, meetings with world political leaders.
"It was important for me that everyone heard what is happening to us, that the war is not far away. To say that for me a diplomatic mission, in particular, the speech in Congress, was a step beyond my comfort zone means to say nothing. But we have all been out of our comfort zone for a long time. However, the fear disappears because you have something to say," Zelenska said.
- Creation of own Foundation to help Ukraine in the areas of reconstruction of medicine, education, humanitarian aid.
"There were more and more requests for help. But the number of proposals and questions "How to join and donate to help Ukraine?" was also increasing. For this puzzle of requests and offers to take shape, a tool was needed – a foundation. I would like to note that we are raising funds abroad to use them in Ukraine," the First Lady said.
- Initiative and participation in the creation of the National Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Program.
"The Ministry of Health is currently taking care of the implementation of the program, we involve all foreign experience, and at the same time, we already have our own, which will definitely be needed not only by us. The good news is that major psychological problems can be avoided if you know how to give yourself help and how to get it. We are building such a system," Zelenska said.
- Continuation of the reform of school meals taking into account wartime needs.
"We launched the reform in January 2022, and an attack happened a month later. There was despair that we had to stop. But we don't stop. In the last few months, we have been continuing the reform of school meals in new conditions, under new challenges, when some children study at home, and schools often do not have electricity. But we have tips and solutions for all these cases. A training program for chef teachers who train chefs for schools has been launched. And we also launched the construction of a kitchen factory in Bucha together with American philanthropist Howard Buffett. It will be able to feed three surrounding communities, and I hope that it will start working on September 1," the First Lady said.
- Continuation of the implementation of barrier-free access, in particular, the extension and publication of the Barrier-Free Handbook – the country's first manual on inclusive communication. "In it, an important In Wartime section, which provides answers to the most pressing questions, has appeared. And we took another step – we printed it, in particular, in Braille. In general, accessibility becomes even more important: while restoring the country, we have to make it better than it was. And people with disabilities should be given the best opportunities," Zelenska said.
- Continuation of cultural diplomacy projects, in particular, the launch of Ukrainian audio guides in world museums, the Books without Borders project, Ukrainian Bookshelf on the distribution of Ukrainian literature in the world and among children - temporary immigrants, Better Time Stories on the creation of personalized audio books for children by their relatives, who remained in Ukraine.
"People who quickly left their homes hardly took books with them, but reading at night is a corner of peace for the family. A normal family evening is really important. More than 200,000 books have been printed and distributed to children as part of the Books Without Borders project. It is how they feel connected to their homeland. Thank you to our Ukrainian publishers who joined it and provided book layouts for printing, and to our diplomatic institutions for organizing the process," the President's wife said.
She said that Ukraine, its citizens and culture should now be heard in a loud voice.
"We have to take our place in the world in all spheres. We have been overlooked for too long. It is necessary to maintain and increase this level. But without war," the First Lady said.