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Reflections on the past year from ЗMIN team


7 min

28 December 2023

Conversation instead of the year's results.
The idea of this specific format and topics of the meeting is determined by our observation of the need to speak out loud – about the fatigue and states in which we have been balancing personally, professionally, as a team and inter-institutionally for almost two years.

Talking "About ЗMIN", we aretalking about the Team that is united professionally, working and cooperatingon a daily basis, putting our knowledge, resources, and fatigue into our work.

Talking "About ЗMIN", we are talking about ЗMIN Partners – over60 teams – civil society organizations, city authorities representatives,valuable businesses, independent doers,
who have joined us and share the same values, intentions and efforts to build our future together.

We share the reflections of the ЗMIN team on the past year through an institutional lens.

From the perspective of the ЗMIN director'sresponsibility, I ask myself:

What does it mean to be a change-making Foundation during a full-scale war? Where do we stand and how do we feel institutionally in this new reality?

What scenarios we see ahead of us:

Be responsible

Being a part of the sector's community of doers automatically means taking responsibility, reflecting on today's challenges, and building scenarios for tomorrow; balancing between gaining fresh knowledge, understanding long-term strategies, as well as handling our new reality better.


Be effective
Before making every decision, it is worth asking ourselves: what is our effectiveness level? Who else does it and how? Whom can we join to gain better results? To observe and understand real needs of the society and the state. To be able to listen and hear. To be able to ask for advice.

Be sensitive

We observe phenomenon of the society's unity and solidarity, and simultaneously the rejection and lack of understanding for people with different experience. There is a need, first, to acknowledge, then to accept, and, lastly, to learn to support one another with such diverse experience and traumas.

Develop open systems. Be curious and creative
To find common language with various players, where it may be hard, but we understand the necessity of the cooperation. To develop and cherish relations.


Grow intellectual courage
We need to gain knowledge, discover new things, explore, and learn from one another, as simple solutions do not work anymore, and complex solutions are formed at the intersection. In joint efforts.


Accept permanent background of the uncertainty

Since now, "may be", "perhaps",and "what if" are parts of our daily plans, for a year or in the longterm.

Be frank and have courage to mark and say out loud that we live in a new reality, and it can last a long time.

I am grateful that we take the responsibility to actin this new reality together.

Khrystia Boyko,

director ofЗMIN


It was nice to walk through 2023 with such high number and quality of our partner teams.

Determining the co-creation and affirmation of the network as highlights of 2023, I and, probably, our whole team mostly kept in mind teams and institutions in general.In the process, we discovered a banal, but obvious truth: institutions are made of people. We communicate with people. These are people who take the responsibility. People create changes.

This year showed a new mode of life, that I marked for myself as the “bittering mode".

When it came to us – those who identify themselves as doers of the civil society – that regardless of the extreme resource contribution, there is still the reality. The reality of war.

Teams' representatives do not live in vacuum. The life amid war and realizing it led a lot of people to the mode of resignation and fatigue. Leaving little space for the mode of miracle, reflection or simple everyday life and routine.

A study of civil society records a large increase in emotional burnout.

And it is true even despite the fact that, in our sector, we have an undisputed affinity to our work and see its value.

I believe that people we work with and those that we work for strongly affect how quickly we can switch between the modes and how long we can stay in the “bittering mode". Those are shared grains of empathy that grow through our skills to be present.

ЗMIN takes up the role of being present in this interdisciplinary community. Not only with the demand of interaction through the official procedures. Not only about the system, but rather about out-of-system/anti-system solutions.

In fact, our desire to be involved, and to help switch from the bittering mode to the recovery, leads to the programs on involving new partners, to the format of the projects’ co-creation, and to the continuous partnership.

Our team – people I work with – put all their efforts to prepare transparent procedures and dedicate enormous amount of their time to inclusive communication. Such contribution of personal resources must bring the worldview change.

The experience I gained while coordinating ЗMIN programs reflects all the best and the worst in the sector.

On the one hand, it proves the flexibility, adaptability to challenges, creativity, and power of small communities. On the other hand, alas, there still are projects that exist for the sake of themselves, instrumentalization, and unethical, unempathetic communication internally and externally. And all of this is about people.

The flexibility, the already restored trust within sectors and communities, as well as forming of the horizontal networks all became key factors in the conditions of survival.

This grand trauma we are all, as a huge community, living through is going to change us, which is obvious. Still, I believe that working in our separate communities and interacting within our network, with the full understanding of everyone's input, we can succeed in becoming a truly rooted community of communities, and scale the embodied solidarity.

Here, we face the enormous challenge to stay human and see another person, with their unique experience, on the other side.

I want to believe that the possibility of our joint reflection, naming things by their names, a sincere talk, and the mutual gratefulness will present us with the vision of our future.


programcoordinator of ЗMIN

I am happy to be and grow together. Here. I am grateful for that.

Looking back on the last year with ЗMIN andYou (our partners), I focus on reading the “voice" of our teams.

I personally interpret it not just as a sound that allows us to translate senses verbally. Instead, I look at it from the perspective of actions and ideas, too.

I can listen to this "voice" through the prism of working for the Foundation. I joined ЗMIN in spring this year, and it became my first experience of working with organizations in the civil society sector.

The"voice" of teams is strong. You can speak about yourself. It is pleasant to see that the projects are well-highlighted in terms of communication due to the already developed recognition and presence of a loyal audience.

The "voice" of teams leads. It is wonderful to see that projects you implement are worth observing and cheering for results.

From the side of ЗMIN, we focus our "voice" on the equal interaction. We often observe the lack of readiness to involve our team into the projects’ meaningful component. Our activity is built on the high-quality and sensitive, in a good sense, selection of initiatives. Although our reality demands "putting out fires" in the society, we try to initiate a constant and continuous "long game". Therefore, we have possibility to add our "voice" to the"voice" of our partner teams. Acting together, we strengthen and increase our influence.

I have a personal wish I prepare to enter2024 with – to hold the "voice" steadily and firmly and to know that this "voice" is heard.


project manager of ЗMIN (communication section)

 This is probably the first time I am publicly introduced as a part of ЗMIN team, and it is both important and valuable for me that it happens in such warm format.

Throughout my involvement in the Fund's work – which mostly consisted of my support of grant programs and work with project teams – I would like to share my two observations.

First, the courage.It seems to me that we all here are courageous. Courageous to be, courageous to be active, be efficient. We work on the ideas, calibrate them into projects and implement them. I am convinced that we do it not just because we want to, but because we can't not do it. It is about passion which is the engine of change and the cement of the civil society. ЗMIN partners in different formats are people full of passion, as they clearly see the issue in their communities and are ready to work in order to resolve it. Let's agree it was not easy to implement a project even during peaceful times, while to act and change something now, at the border time of the war and uncertainty, regardless of the fatigue, losses, and sadness, is already a huge effort that gives birth to the new solutions, new better practices, which make our future brighter. It inspires me, I appreciate working with you, and thank you for this invisible power of passion.

My second observation is the request for grouping, searching for "our" people, and developing communities so that there were more of "our" people. In times of war, we have more conscious need to be with someone, to feel that we are not alone personally, institutionally, and professionally. A man needs another man, and a team needs another team. In ЗMIN, networking and co-creation have become our priorities of the past year, and this meeting has proven the fact that the priorities had been chosen correctly.

Lastly, I would like to share my personal insight. In ЗMIN, we could choose teams for cooperation and reinforcement, choose the tone of voice of the organizational culture. For me, it seems to be a great luxury and, at the same time, responsibility, where the institutional trust is rooted. The trust to institutions is something our society lacks so much.

So, thank you for this year, it's great to be a part of the process and see how a community of passionate leaders and teams is growing despite everything. To2024, I take with me the faith, steadiness, courage, and gratefulness. As Taras Prokhasko once wrote, "a man, above all, needs gratefulness".


Iryna Shymon

project manager of ЗMIN

Reflections from ЗМІN team

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