Paulina Vitushchenko

is the curator of the Ivan Lutskevich Museum in Vilnius (Belarusian Culture and Community Center).

She says that the Vilnius self-government after 2020, when the number of Belarusians in the capital of Lithuania increased, wanted to help them and decided to give the building in the center of Vilnius to Belarusian activities.

"We won the tender for this building and, therefore, started working in the summer of 2021.

Now several organizations work here - "Vyasna", "Doctors for Truth and Justice", the platform "Zubr" and we, the Vilnius Belarusian Museum named after Ivan Lutskevich (a.k.a. the Center of Belarusian Culture and Community in Lithuania)," says the curator of the Center Pavlina Vitushchenko. .

Pavlina Vitushchenko

Vitushchenko adds that all organizations are working to integrate Belarusians in Lithuania and maintain a connection with their identity.

"At the Center, children and adults can receive psychological help.

Very talented psychologists work here who understand perfectly what each of us is going through.

And a lot of people use it."

The center houses the largest Belarusian public library in Lithuania, says the curator.

"Everyone can find a book for any taste.

We try to supplement the library as much as possible.

We also offer book presentations almost every month for lovers of reading.

During this time, many wonderful Belarusian writers, translators, publishing houses visited us, we always get very interesting meetings.

Concerts of Belarusian artists are also held regularly."

Event of the Center of Belarusian Culture and Community in Lithuania

The Center also has a free co-working space, and a women's club meets every Tuesday, the interlocutor said.

"Women are engaged in traditional Belarusian crafts, sing, talk about important topics.

Sometimes a gynecologist comes to them, who can answer important questions, and there are self-defense classes for them - everything a modern woman needs.

There are also all kinds of activities for the community - we regularly write postcards and letters to political prisoners."

You can join folk singing classes, as well as excursions around Vilnius.

The Center also offers language courses, says Paulina.

"Several groups of Lithuanian and Polish language courses are now working.

Let's not forget Belarusian either: every Wednesday, linguist Vintsuk Vyachorka comes to us and tells interesting stories about various aspects of the culture of the language, how to speak Belarusian well, correctly and beautifully."

The Center for Culture and Community in Vilnius does a lot for children as well.

Sunday school is open.

"The school is one of the largest non-formal education initiatives for Belarusian children in Lithuania and in all diasporas, it has more than 150 people.

Every week there are groups on various topics, we try to introduce the children to our history, culture, language, but also to make them feel at home in Vilnius," says Paulina Vitushchenko.

Every weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., children from 3 to 16 years old can engage in a variety of activities: drawing, robotics, singing, theater, language courses, and other activities.

How to help the Center of Belarusian Culture and Community in Lithuania?

To help the Center for Culture and Community, you can become a volunteer and donate any amount.

"These donations help us to cope with our utilities, to have treats for the children's school, because the little ones always eat everything in their path," smiles Paulina.

- A large part of our center's staff are also volunteers, so financial support helps us survive a lot.

And, of course, it will help if you participate in events, bring your friends, because our main function is to work for Belarusians in Vilnius, and the more people we can reach, the better for us."

Belarusians in Lithuania who declare their salaries can help the Center by sending an amount from their tax to its activities, says Vitushchenko.

"Lithuania has such a system where everyone can donate 1.2% of the declared amount to any organization they like.

The average salary is almost 39 euros.

And if this money is not donated to anyone, then it just automatically goes to the Lithuanian state.

With this money, we can buy new books for the library, especially for the nursery, because children are our most active readers, they really need a lot of new books every week.

The funds will help us organize holidays for children, where we need to organize something beautiful."

According to the curator, the procedure is very simple.

You can become a donor literally in 10 minutes.

For convenience, the employees of the Center posted instructions on their Instagram.

Belarusians in Vilnius

"To take care of each other collectively is an extremely important job"

Now the Center is working on the organization of children's summer camps, says Paulina Vitushchenko.

"It used to be very easy for Belarusians in Belarus - children could be sent to their grandparents.

And now in Vilnius it is a bit problematic to occupy children in the summer.

Therefore, we would like to join in solving this problem and create summer camps in Vilnius, where children come, work with teachers, learn something useful, do something with their hands, move, sing, fool around in the company of similar Belarusian children - and return home in the evening."

As long as repression continues in Belarus, the work of the center is very important, the curator believes.

According to her, living in a community has many advantages.

"There is an opportunity to support each other, because Belarusian life has been everyday for us for the past couple of years, but in fact it is a huge stress.

Therefore, it seems to me that if you can somehow collectively protect each other, this is extremely important work."

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