Since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian diaspora in the city has been in turmoil. The conflict tightened ties, and initiatives to support the country multiplied.
We don’t mess with the debutante ball. Such a social event is prepared months in advance. The men carefully choose their tuxedos and the 16-year-old teenagers, celebrated that evening, with their white tulle dresses. Each will clutch a bouquet of red roses between their gloved hands and offer a dazzling smile to the photographers. This is how announced the annual ball was organized in Chicago (Illinois), by the local branch of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (Umana). The entrance ticket, in a prestigious hotel in the city, amounted to 185 dollars (170 euros). The date was marked on the calendar: Saturday, February 26.
Two days earlier, the Russian army entered Ukraine. For the diaspora in the United States, the frozen conflict in the eastern region of Donbas had been for eight years a kind of irritating background noise, a reminder of the toxicity of Moscow. Suddenly, the open and devastating war changed everything, upsetting the plans, arousing anxiety, and revealing the characters.
How to parade the teenagers, toast, and dance, when the tanks rolled on their homeland? As president of the local branch of Umana, Olena Gordon immediately grasped the dilemma, especially since the hotel refused any refund in the event of cancellation at such short notice. “That’s when we decided to turn the event into a fundraising evening, in solidarity with Ukraine,” explains this 44-year-old woman.