We have divided this world into “mine” and “not mine”

An interview with a volunteer of the “Angels of Freedom” project

January 21, 2023

Gaukhar is a yoga teacher, nutritionist, she had worked as an HR-specialist for a major construction company. A few months ago Gaukhar began to help to the Angels of Freedom project. We inquired why it is important to her and how events in the neighboring country are seen in the yoga philosophy.
The Angels of Freedom are a symbol of freedom from anger, from hatred, from condemnation, from evaluation.
Gaukhar, how did you join the project Angels of Freedom?
— Completely by accident. And, you know, I don't think I'm doing anything supernatural or doing something ambitious in this project. When the war had started in Ukraine, like many others, I helped with what I could, with money. There were all sorts of fundraising, and I thought it's better to transfer the money because they know better what they need. At that time, we were well acquainted with people from Ukraine, there are a lot of Ukrainians among the coaches in the online space, people from there worked in our company as well.
You knew about the launching of the Russian “special military operation” from them or from news?
— From news.
And it turned out that you may not just make Angels of Freedom, leave it and forget, but you can become a permanent participant, do something more.
What was your first thought, emotional reaction, when you found out the war had started?
— To be honest, I don't even remember it. At that moment, I probably didn't realize what was happening. To be honest, I began to approach more consciously to what is happening in the world and in our country after what had happened in January. I began to understand that I had to somehow cultivate my civic position, educate, activate it somehow. And when it happened in Ukraine, I was not aware that in recent years everything was leading up to it: I stopped watching TV, listening to the news, and being interested in politics a long time ago. But after the January events in our country, I became more interested and delved into political processes.

And, of course, it was scary. First of all, for those who found themselves in the very epicenter of the bombing. Familiar yoga teachers, bloggers, psychologists, authors of courses and programs of personal development, to which I was subscribed on Instagram were among them. On their pages, they shared the horror and nightmare that was happening in their lives. They told how they cope with this situation, what actions they take to simply survive, save their relatives and those who are nearby. I, like many of my compatriots, thought about how I could be useful, how I could help. I decided to transfer money to the account that my friend had posted — she was familiar and was in a contact with people from Ukraine. When it became clear, that war will not end that soon, I had started looking for ways to help regularly on a regular basis, without disturbing anyone, because I have lost previous communication channels.
That’s how you met “Angels of Freedom”?
— Yes. And then mobilization happened in Russia. It turned out that the flat I own near to the Russian border was rented by a young man who had run from the mobilization. And I thought: since I receive income from Russians, I had to send minimum 10% of them as an aid to Ukraine. I thought there is some logic. And unexpectedly I see an announcement in social networks that it is possible not just donate, but also come and do something with your own hands.
And what do you do in the project?
— When I came to toloka for the first time, I did not plan to participate in the project all the time. I thought it would be just a one-time action: I'll go, make some contribution which was in my understanding, and that's it. I went there, met the volunteers, the organizers — Iryna, Yevgeniy. And it turned out that you may not just make Angels of Freedom, leave it and forget, but you can become a permanent participant, do something more. Since then, I regularly go to tolokas, take part in fairs if I can. Although I have my own life and my free time does not always match with the schedule of exhibitions and fairs.
Nevertheless, you keep on being a volunteer of the project, so it gives you something. What exactly do you think?
— Above all, I keep on going there because I want to help. Because the issue of Ukraine is in the first place for me. I am very concerned about what is happening in my country. I want everything to be fine with us. You know, I believe that the victory of Ukraine will assure democracy not only in Ukraine, but also in Kazakhstan. I still think our system is authoritarian, as well as in Russia, and we are close behind. We might be mentally different from them, but the systems are the same. That’s why I pin my hope on Ukraine.
Were there any cases or acquaintances in your volunteering period that made a big impression on you?
— Of course! The project itself, communication with the organizer Yevgeniy, volunteers. For example, volunteer Aelita had a great influence on me. She never misses any events, she is ready to put all her potential into this project, she invests and helps. I’ve witnessed how Yevgeniy organized this project from scratch, how he believes in it, how he faiths in it. Because I think it's not so easy to carry on this project, to expand it. It needs such faith… especially when you see that out of a huge number of people, a very small number of them participates in it. Although there is nothing complicated — it's enough to come once and help to make angels. And the more people respond, the more opportunities there will be to help.
So why do you think most people take a passive observer position?
— There are people who do not try to investigate, they take that development as a negative. Maybe, in order not to clog up their emotional field with negativity, I don't know. I don't find anything negative in this for myself, quite the opposite. My lifestyle implies that I shouldn't take any side. Yoga is about that there are no good or bad ones in the world, the world is not divided into good and bad, it’s needed to accept everything in this life. And all bad things happen just because we divide this world, separate ourselves from it. We human beings are divided into races, nationalities, religions. We separate ourselves from animals, we consider ourselves superior to animals or plants. That's where it all comes from. And the war in Ukraine makes us realize those things clearer.

Yoga, which you previously immersed yourself in more theoretically, is now in your life. When I get angry, annoyed and argue with someone, I help the war to escalate and become even tougher. If I want to contribute to this war ending as soon as it’s possible, I must work on myself in my life then.
— And what does it mean work on yourself?
— Change your habitual perception of the world, stop judging, criticizing and evaluating others, just because they look at this world with other eyes, respect the feelings of others, be able to empathize and sympathize with the suffering of others. We cannot change the course of the war directly — you are not going there to fight, or you do not have that much money or weapon. Therefore, first of all it is necessary to establish relations with loved ones, no matter which side they take. We are striving for a democracy where everyone has the right to their point of view. And I had this thought: if I'm striving for democracy, then I should let my family have their own opinion. I understand that now there is a question of “evil” and “good”, “light” and “darkness”. But until I give this opportunity to my loved ones, it means that I am also on the side of darkness, so I am resisting this, I am in a struggle. And I don't want to be in a fight, I want to be in love. We cannot help Ukraine if we argue and impose our truth, our vision on each other. If I want to help, I have to show what the light is with my actions. And the project “Angels of Freedom” surprised me with this, it is so bright. We help children, restore schools. I think it's very cool.
We all need to stop judging everything that doesn't fit into our worldview.
Continue the phrase The Angels of Freedom are…”
— The Angels of Freedom are a symbol of… freedom from anger, from hatred, from condemnation, from evaluation. Freedom, when we really understand that love will save this world. It seems to me that the “Angels of Freedom” symbolize this. They're angels… We all need to stop judging everything that doesn't fit into our worldview. We have divided this world into “mine” and “not mine”, and everything that is “not mine”, we condemn, evaluate, hate, feel fear. That is what led to this kind of misunderstanding, this war. And I think that true democracy just assumes that you do not condemn anyone, accept both “red” and “white” and “blue”, as it is said. We are all equal and we are all under the same God, under the same sky. We're just different, that's all.
Author: Tatiana Pravdina
Angels of Freedom
Interviews with volunteers