Bohdana Yakovenko, professional photographer and a donor

Bohdana Yakovenko is a professional photographer and a donor. A Ukrainian from New York, at the beginning of February 2022 she held a fundraising campaign: in exchange for each donation to the elderly, she was posting for the subscribers one of her funny pictures from school and her young years in her stories.

«I am grateful to the foundation for their contribution to the improvement of elderly people’s lives! 💚 I’m also very happy to have an opportunity to help too! Since I was a child, I have been seeing old people that had to be out on the streets asking for money, it was so painful to see it. Nobody deserves this! So good there are people, who can help financially and volunteer. I am grateful to them!

The idea of the initiative came to me suddenly – everything happened very unexpectedly! Because I live in the USA and have many non-Ukrainian friends they always ask, what is going on in Ukraine? There is a trend: they always feed me and ask how am I doing, say they are thinking about my family, and wish us all the best. I was already getting tired of it a little bit and thought: why not draw their attention to things that can actually help in some way, that are not just good wishes?

So that’s how the idea to raise funds for “Starenki” appeared – when I was asked again what do I think about Russian aggression and how my family in Ukraine is living now?
I was born and grew up in the Luhansk region, in a typical small town. Since 2014, I live in New York, it turned out I moved to the USA just a few months before the Russian attack on Donbas. My family was living there for a few years, but not long ago my parent’s moved and transported my grandpa and grandma to a safe place.

I really love humor and laughing at myself! So I have decided to combine this with the charity to attract the attention. My husband was the first one who donated money, even though I did not ask. So that’s how it started, little by little 🙂 That’s how we raised 515 USD for the elderly! I did not set a deadline for this fundraising, because it was happening very chaotic. However, I’m sure, because there were so many posts and they were so funny, silly even, people liked it! I didn’t even expect that.

I talk a lot with Americans and other foreigners and I am always happy when there is an opportunity to tell something about the history of Ukraine, about culture, and the military conflict as well. I also write a lot about it in my Instagram stories. I’m not an expert and not a professor, but I’m trying to translate complex information into the understandable one for foreigners.

Humor and laughter are my everything, I think we should all laugh at ourselves, because what else can we do – life is complicated. That’s why I offered that for a donation to the “Starenki” foundation I will show pictures of me and my Ukrainian childhood! I was very active online back then and was regularly posting silly (in my opinion now) pictures, which are veeeery funny to me now. That was the humor that helped me to raise 515 USD. They were sending me money on Venmo (like PayPal), and I was transferring it to “Starenki”.
The money was sent by friends – Ukrainians, my friend from Lebanon (she knows what it is like to live in instability), a friend from Russia (!), an American from Macedonia, other American friends, and also a bunch of absolutely unknown people.

I am sure that positivity, caring for people with disabilities, and how easy it was to transfer money played the main role! My friends trust me, and they know the money would go exactly where it’s needed”.