Maryna Poroshenko, wife of the president of Ukraine and head of the Poroshenko Charitable Fund, recently visited New York. She was in the United States with her husband President Petro Poroshenko on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
In an interview with InLove magazine Maryna Poroshenko shares her impressions of America, reveals her personal style secrets, and explains how the first family celebrated Christmas last year.
Mrs. Poroshenko, tell us your impressions of your travels to New York in September of this year?
I love New York because it’s a city that lives in the wake of current trends, tolerance and freedom. And, I think that the character of any given city depends on its people, who open it up for you.
This was a landmark visit by the President of Ukraine to attend the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in the U.S., which coincided with my husband’s 50th birthday. We traveled to New York with high expectations, and were prepared to engage in a constructive dialogue with the international community. As a result, the delegation that represented the people of Ukraine went back home confident that the world supported us and were paying attention to the countries of central Europe.
I also had the opportunity during this visit to meet with representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora, including leaders of Ukrainian women’s organizations active in America. After speaking with them, I felt that Ukraine lives in the hearts and minds of every Ukrainian, regardless in which state or country they live. Everyone with whom I spoke to directly is engaged in assisting those affected by the armed conflict in the East, and overall, they are concerned about how they can help establish freedom, independence and democracy in their homeland.
I saw how active participation is the popularization of Ukrainian culture. After visiting the Ukrainian Museum in New York, I was impressed with their preservation of significant historical and cultural pieces outside of Ukraine, which are important to our heritage. I also appreciated that the Museum organizes exhibits that display Ukrainian fine arts.
During your visit to New York you met with leaders of Ukrainian women’s organizations in the U.S., was there anything that stood out or surprised you in this meeting?
Women today are a large driving force of any process—political, social, or humanitarian. Many from the Ukrainian women’s organizations discussed the immense effort undertaken, with the help of American medical assistance, to treat those wounded at Maidan, as well as volunteers and soldiers from the anti-terrorist operation zone.
As for social programs, what is important in America is also important in Ukraine: helping victims of domestic violence, preventing abortion, supporting women and children in complex and difficult circumstances. These are all issues close to any woman’s heart worldwide.
I especially would like to point out that the Ukrainian diaspora, and women as part of it, are extremely effective in building a diplomatic bridge between our two countries. This work is conducted at the highest level by engaging with congressmen and senators to ensure support for Ukraine in the U.S. Congress. This is very important for our country.
Just recently, in early November, in Washington, DC, a memorial was unveiled dedicated to the victims of the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-1933. You attended the ceremony representing Ukraine. What feelings did this event evoke in your heart?
It’s a well known fact that in , Washington, DC, lies the foundation for the principles of freedom and democracy, and as the U.S. is home to many people of Ukrainian descent, it seems only fitting that a memorial was dedicated there to the victims of the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-1933. It took a tremendous amount of effort by many people to realize this significant project. I would like to, again, thank the many Ukrainian civic associations, and Americans, who were responsible in bringing this project to fruition. Today, more than ever,Ukraine needs support, understanding and help in her desire for truth, in addition to human compassion in convicting those who commit crimes against the Ukrainian nation.
In conclusion, I would like to say that America for me is not about the skyscrapers, the bustling streets or the erected monuments, but about the people, who have open hearts and sincere eyes. These are people who are ready to help and support.
Christmas is upon us. During these holidays we always mention those who need help. What has the Poroshenko Fund, which you are the head of, do specifically during the holiday season?
Christmas is a very important holiday for each of us because it is based on hope, faith and love. Taking into account that Ukraine is currently fighting for freedom on her own territory, I would also like to add peace to this list. For me, Christmas is a family holiday, where loved ones, young and old, come together.
Traditionally, on the eve of the New Year and Christmas holidays the Poroshenko Fund tries to make Ukrainian children feel special, especially those kids who have lost their parents and have been relocated because of the anti-terrorist operation in the East. These children don’t need much, only our love and attention. That’s why we organize various charitable concerts and original events where we entertain the children and present them with gifts.
Our Fund has a special program called “Warmth In Our Hearts,” which organized a charitable concert last year by Oleksandra, Yevhenia and Mykhailo Poroshenko for children of the Ivano-Frankivsk region whose parents where killed or wounded in the anti-terrorist operation zone. We opened the doors of the official state residence “Syniohora” to the kids of our heroes. The president’s children played piano for them, delighting our young guests with classic pieces of music and with theme songs from popular films. Today we still do tours for these children. We need to get away from always organizing private events, and have more public events. They understand this well in America. I am convinced that gifting the warmth of our hearts to children is something that we can all do every day for our country. Children are the biggest asset of any nation. They are our future.
Mrs. Poroshenko, how did your family celebrate Christmas last year?
Last Christmas, my husband and I visited the Smerechuk family in Western Ukraine who welcomed a boy from the Donetsk oblast into their home for the holidays. There we had the opportunity to talk with our hosts and their young guest, as well with other children from the East who were taken in by families from this region. These are children who witnessed the horrors of war first hand, and had their innocence robbed from them by the Russian aggressor. This is why our family decided that during Christmastime we want to be with these children.
I want to say that this past Christmas Eve was not just festive, but symbolic as well, as we clearly saw Eastern and Western Ukraine celebrate Christmas together. The feeling that the Ukrainian nation was unified, showing compassion and experiencing simple joy was very special for me.
Ukrainian tabloids call you the most stylish first lady of Ukraine in her entire history. Do you have people that help you choose your wardrobe?
I choose the clothes in my wardrobe myself. I enjoy creating my own personal style, which is based on harmony and simplicity. However, when I am dressing for a special occasion, I like to emphasize the fact that I am a Ukrainian, and proud of it. Then I prefer to wear clothes made by Ukrainian designers who use Ukrainian motifs. For example, when I was faced with the question of what to wear for my husband’s inauguration, I just saw this long dress with double skirt layers in yellow and blue colors and realized it symbolized freedom, free will and unity of our great nation.
In closing, we usually ask this question: what does it mean for you to be InLove?
You can be in love with a person, an idea, a country, or life… But the most important thing is that the person who loves is a happy person. So, I wish that everyone be in love and happy, because it is love that helps the world bask in the rays of goodness and happiness.
To subscribe or purchase the magazine http://inlovemag.com/subscribe/