Throughout the reign of the Russian Empire and the decades of Soviet rule, the city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine was a military shipbuilding center. The “closed” aspect of Mykolaiv caused by the military secrecy has coursed through its people for hundreds of years.
“The mentality of being in a closed city and not having the right to talk, the right to move, has been passed on from generation to generation, from mother to son,” says Anna Ganshul, who became a lawyer so she could help people.
While attending a human rights forum in Kiev in 2013, she was introduced to Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI), a nonprofit that widely educates on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
She recognized that YHRI combined two of her passions—human rights and social activities. Determined to change the attitudes and behavior of Mykolaiv’s people—and therefore, their destiny—Ganshul launched YHRI Mykolaiv soon thereafter.
The chapter currently has 50 active members and frequently organizes community outreach events, puts on lectures in schools and participates in city festivals. More than 47,000 people have been reached via television and online coverage of YHRI Mykolaiv. Not only has the organization presented materials in all of the city’s schools, colleges and universities, but the campaign was also recognized by the region’s head of the justice department.