Since the first sounds of explosions and air raid alert, since the first run to the bomb shelter, during our nights on the floor "behind two walls", queues at pharmacies and grocery stores - I knew it was worth everything.
I. Am. Free. I am free and I want to stay free. We are free.
And from the past to the present, we see that russia wants to deprive us of freedom - freedom of will, freedom of speech, freedom to be who we are.
This is my worst fear. I started to ask myself: what is freedom for me? It lives in small everyday details that you don't think about until there is a risk of losing them. So, I asked the women around me what freedom means to them.
Each participant wrote her answer by hand - because freedom is something that can only be done with your own hands. In these photos you can see their texts, which are "written" directly on their bodies - because it is engraved in our souls.
Freedom is the absence of fear, a sense of security that brings confidence and strength for action. Only understanding that nothing threatens me, both my existence and my self-confidence, self-esteem - I will be able to act, create, be, live, and not just survive. Today, freedom has such priorities - I want to understand that after all, I have the freedom to choose to live or not, with whom to live, where to live, what to do. And for the moment being the scariest feeling is the feeling that my freedom of choice might be taken away! Fear, pain, despair, anger and hatred because of f**king russians. But I’m trying to find strength in myself and choose, choose to notice something bright, good, see the love around and share it, find something beautiful in the midst of darkness.
Genia Tsvetkova
If I had to describe what freedom is to me in just one sentence, I would say this: it's the wind in my hair when I ride my bike through the park and take my hands off the handlebars. When the world rushes around, images change, trees, flowers, and people change, and I have a smile on my face, I know where I'm going, I don't know what's waiting for me around the corner, but at this moment I'm completely free. Free from worries, from thoughts, both mine and other people's, which oppress me and make me doubt myself. Free from judgment. Free from any life circumstances. I'm in the moment. I'm smiling. I look at the sky. Endless blue skies with small clouds look at me.
I take a deep breath. I'm not afraid. I am not afraid of the world around me. I am not afraid of circumstances that can take this moment away from me. I break out of the cage that the world has created for me, break the limitations that my environment has made for me, that I have made for myself. I can shout at the top of my lungs, and I can sing. I can do whatever I want. I can go to the station and buy a ticket for the next train. Or for a flight to London. Or I can go home and watch the series all day. 
Freedom is silence. Beautiful silence with no sirens, no voice announcing an air raid, no whistling rockets, no explosions. Silence, broken only by the chirping of birds and the laughter of your loved one. 
I can express my thoughts, my experiences, and my desires without fear of judgment. I can choose what to do with my body, with my mind. I can choose what to do with my life. I know that no one and nothing can stop me. I am free.
Xenia Duda
There is a postcard hanging above my workplace with a Tree of Life drawn on it. It is a traditional pattern, a Ukrainian version of what is called Yggdrasil in Scandinavian mythology; unlike the World Ash, the Ukrainian Tree of Life is a plant in a beautifully decorated pot, covered with flowers, birds sit on its branches, which carry heavy fruits. 
It is very pleasant to look at the Tree of Life because it is a cosy metaphor for prosperity, beauty and family happiness. In fact, it is a symbol of Paradise.
And to create Paradise for yourself is freedom. 
For example, to build a house. Just the way you want it, and exactly where you want it. Fill it with things you like. And invite people who love you and who you love. 
This is an opportunity to be with those who your soul is drawn to. Who is kind to you not because you are the best person, but despite the fact that you are not the best. 
Freedom is the right to choose role models but to follow your own path.It is a privilege to manage your own time. The opportunity to spend it on a cause that you believe in and that makes you happy.
I look at the postcard with the Tree of Life and think about all the people who lost their homes, friends, loved ones and their favourite work in the fight for freedom. Their Paradise, which they loved, perhaps without even realizing how much. After all, freedom does not seem like a great value while we have it. And it becomes the most necessary thing when it is taken away.
Because freedom is the soil the Tree of Life grows from.
Oksana Oliynyk
Freedom is the air for choices, actions, and events.
Freedom is the engine that drives us towards our goals.
Freedom is always about truth and love in life.
Freedom is the value of my people!
Freedom is a gift from birth, but nobles wanted to destroy it over the centuries
Freedom is in the genes, in the blood, in the land
Freedom in the air of my people!
My country has been fighting for freedom for a year
Freedom cannot be stolen, destroyed or bought
Freedom is our identity code, an amulet
Freedom is the supreme value of the Ukrainian people!
Tetyana Savchenko
Somewhere on Hoverla, with a yellow-blue flag in my hands, I shout "FREE...", and the Carpathians pick up "eee...", "DOM..." - and the mountain massif, smiling into its spruce moustache, roars "ooo...", "OM!" - I exhale all the air from my lungs, and the steam from my mouth joins the ancient clouds. "OM! OM! OM!" - echoes in my ears.
Via Lucis – the path of light. Follow the sound of the trembita inside you. Follow your own path, protect your personal values, and do not betray your guidelines. I know that the words "mother", "home", "Ukraine" resonate with everyone. But FREEDOM has always been my shrine. 
My personal measure of freedom is to speak the truth, to think, to write, to decide and be responsible for the decisions made, to agree or to disagree, to love or not to love, to marry or not. 
Freedom is my guide. I am with those and where I feel free. I don’t care about titles, wealth, recognition or career. I follow the light. My light is freedom. I consider it an indispensable condition of what I mean by the concept of "being a person."
But freedom requires sacrifices. It is hot and red, it flows in our veins and gives our hands an incredible strength to take our enemy by the throat. Because freedom must be protected.

Iryna Nikolenko
What is freedom to me?
Freedom is the ability to make a choice. Choose yourself, and your environment, choose what to be today and in which direction to move. Or not to move at all. The feeling of freedom is lightness, wings, and dreams coming true. But it's not just about doing whatever you want.
Freedom is to act following your values. Freedom is responsible and conscious. Values are what unite people and freedom is comprehended through relationships with others. A free person chooses themselves without violating the freedom of others. They accept the consequences of their actions or inaction. Choose how to perceive them.
Sometimes this choice is very difficult. Freedom is sweet and bitter to the taste. And it is not easy to get. But it is the most valuable thing you can have in life.

Kseniia Smirnova
Freedom. Liberty.
It's something that's hard to talk about. Something that some people don't even think about. Some don’t appreciate it. Some recklessly give it up. And some lose it.
But people need freedom and liberty, just like a bird needs wings!
And Ukrainians realize this.
Those who were born in Ukraine got these concepts with milk, with blood. Our Anthem is about freedom, and the Trident, our national emblem, is about liberty. Ukrainians have an invincible will to fight for their freedom. And they have been doing it for centuries. Because, as history shows, freedom must be gained and defended. And that's what we do. That’s where our resources and strength are directed. That’s what the best and bravest give their lives for. And the struggle continues.
Wish us Victory. So that we could fully enjoy our freedom and peace. So that everyone can feel free in Ukraine without enemy attacks and military aggression. 
After all, people need freedom and liberty, just like a bird needs wings!

Maryna Şenel
Freedom - what is it to me?
Only one word but so many meanings. Even the same person in different periods of their life understands this concept differently. 
When I was very young, I remember that I considered protest to be freedom - not to eat that disgusting soup in kindergarten, not to sleep during the day, to run around the playground screaming loudly and not to be punished for it by the teacher. 
A little older, I thought that freedom was to go where you want and do what you want. I was annoyed by the training in the pioneer camp, and the highest degree of protest was running away and going home through the woods :-)
In adulthood, freedom was defined by money - to be able to travel the world wherever you want.
Then it seemed that freedom is not to be afraid of ageing, to live a decent and interesting old age.
The Autumn of 2013 changed everything.
It turned out that freedom is always a choice and responsibility. Not only for yourself - for loved ones, friends, and for the country.
A year ago, with the beginning of a full-scale invasion, I came to understand that freedom is a great goal that cannot be achieved by someone else's efforts. 
Freedom has a price, and to get it, you must be ready to give time, money, health or life.
Ivetta Yaroshenko
I feel freedom with my body - in relaxed shoulders and belly. Every time I am surprised how much work I have to do to feel this freedom: to relax, to accept myself as I am, to let go of the tension, to trust myself.
I feel freedom through its absence - when it hurts. When people, circumstances, and work are so pressing that I can no longer breathe, I can't be happy, I can't create - and I can only sadly hide behind work or series. And plan a retreat from the real goals in life. Freedom is to sing softly. It's to run. It's to swim. It means crying and not being afraid of judgement, contempt, or other consequences. Because tears are about openness, about extreme vulnerability, which at the same time protects and helps to keep going. 
Freedom is a choice that feels good. Calm and not always easy. But undoubted and honest. With which you can sleep and breathe, with which you begin to burn, with which you begin to blossom. Freedom is never final. Never permanent. It is necessary to fight for it. Protect it every time. The more you have it, the more someone wants to steal it, limit, or take it away. 
Freedom is difficult to accept even in yourself. Because comes with losses. Can you accept them too? Will you want to compromise? Can you resist? Who will be able to help you? 
Finally, freedom is happiness. It’s the base, the core of everything. It’s the ability to choose. It is the background to write freely. It is a dream and it is reality. It is the home I return to. And at the same time, it is the foundation - the foundation for the state of "love".
Oksana Mamchenkova
Have you noticed that freedom is mostly talked about when something threatens it? It's like air - few people think about breathing when we have enough oxygen to support our vital activities. But as soon as we find ourselves lacking air, all other desires and needs fade into the background. 
For me, freedom is primarily about the possibility and ****right**** of everyone to live their life according to their own choice, and to act in accordance with their own needs, interests, life values and goals. When a person is deprived of this, it is scary and sad.
But what is even more frightening is that many people get used to this state after lacking freedom for a long time. And when they finally get a chance to regain their freedom and subjectivity, they either don't need it anymore, or they are too scared to take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and choices.
That's why it's hard for people to get out of abusive or dependent relationships because they already don’t know any different. It is like boiling a frog alive by gradually increasing the temperature of the water - it does not notice that it is dying and does not even try to escape. The same thing happens to entire people in countries where civil rights and freedoms are systematically suppressed. Whole generations are being boiled in a broth of toxic propaganda and lies without noticing it. 
Therefore, for those who have felt true freedom at least once, the threat of losing it again is equivalent to a threat to life.
That is why freedom must be protected while we have it - no matter the price. Because if we lose it, it will be even more difficult for each of us to get it back.
Olga Ostroverkhova
I am a dragon, I collect jewellery, love to travel and appreciate the unusual. I have the longest relationship with jewellery, I like its shape, material, complexity of work and shine. I perceive each of my people as a beautiful piece of jewellery although I don’t drag them into my cave. I love looking into the eyes, hearing a new story and finding a new diamond. The war took away the opportunity to feel the wind of a new journey, and worst of all, it took away the sparkle in people's eyes. I noticed it for the first time last year on a business trip. She was sitting on a tourist street in Krakow, with a beautiful body, a cute face and completely empty eyes. A child was playing nearby, and when I turned to her, she smiled, answering my question in Ukrainian, somewhere in the depths of her incredibly blue eyes, which reminded me of sapphires, there was that spark. I moved on. My heart was with my husband and daughter in Ukraine, but my thoughts were with those sapphire eyes. I noticed such empty and sad eyes on all the streets.
Although to be honest it's not the first time, it's just so hurts so much and I want to scream so loud for the first time. However, I’ve been watching the eyes lose their sparkle since I was in the 8th grade. People were alive, but school, university, and work killed the most valuable thing that makes a person. “Be like everyone else” uniform and for some reason a cheap synthetic one from the market is better than a vintage brand from a thrift store. Put on a suit, because with it you will be heard better, or the text will probably become more intelligent. Write only like this, address people politely, do everything only according to the protocol - all this extinguished that precious sparkle in the eyes. There were not as many of them as since February 24, but everywhere and every time. Of course, stupidity, problems with health, real estate, money, partners and lack of one's place in life did not help. 
This is why freedom for me primarily consists of the ability to breathe freely, stand stably on my feet and have a personality. 
In my case, wearing jewellery, with faith in the future and wind in my head.
Dariya Samofalova
“Freedom Inside” in big calligraphic letters and a small fragile bird heading to the sky. 
This was supposed to be the new tattoo that I wanted to get in February 2022. I wanted to, but I didn't manage to get it on time.
Only now I’ve realised that it was too early. I didn't fully feel it then. I had not yet accepted my inner freedom and was not ready to use it and enjoy it. The freedom which was born through pain and suffering, conscious freedom which becomes an integral part of you, which changes you forever. 
Freedom is a capricious and self-willed girl. Demanding, bold, and inconvenient for others. She comes into your life gradually, testing your strength step by step. It is much easier to get rid of it and leave everything as it was. But once you feel its unstoppable power, you can't live otherwise. You still naively think you have a choice, but she has already decided for you. You just have to accept her.
It will not be easy for you. You will learn to take what is yours, not to put up with what destroys you, to lose and find, not to miss the past and to look into the future.
That little fragile bird inside will no longer hide in fear. It will feel its own strength, spread its wings and fly to the skies. Where it has always dreamt of being. Where it did not dare go before. And at this moment it will feel a strange mixture of terror and euphoria. The terror of the fact that it could have never got there. Euphoria from having dared.
Freedom is difficult, it is scary, and it is irreversible. But it is impossible to live without it.
I’ll definitely get that tattoo. An eternal reminder that freedom lives within, you just have to trust it and don’t stop it.
Lesia Panchenko
I often hear that there is a lack of time freedom, freedom of action, freedom to be independent of circumstances and other people to make certain decisions, start processes, do something.
Freedom is a state of mind that has an incredible power of action.
Freedom is not determined by external events and circumstances. But I often catch myself thinking that, having everything to be free, we stop and do not act. Looking around, we look for the reasons for our lack of freedom in other people.
Nowadays, freedom has become the vital pulse of millions of Ukrainians.
We are fighting for the freedom to choose those who are brothers and who are not. The freedom to choose who we will never sit next to or go through life hand in hand.
Conscious choice is not easy - it is about constant pondering.
Freedom to choose unfreedom.
Freedom to accept the fluidity of life and the diversity of motives.
Freedom to admit mistakes and be joyful in the next stage of life.
Freedom is a gift that you may never use in your lifetime.
Svitlana Som
What did I consciously choose as a person? I didn't choose or I don't remember choosing when and where to be born, the colour of my eyes that would look at the world... From this point of view, freedom is something that does not exist…
But freedom is the most delicious experience.
It's like rushing to the field near Chortoryi to watch the sunset, sometime in the spring, when the water is as clear as melted ice and just as cold, and the curfew starts at eight o'clock, and I'm already running home again, finishing an expensive cold coffee from that one coffee shop that has started working again. And that taste of burnt coffee is like the joy of life that continues... And that unmined path in the field is my symbol of freedom.
Elena Aguf
Freedom for me is not just an opportunity to do whatever you want at your own will. 
Freedom allows you to respect, know and defend your rights, opinions, ideas and values, while not limiting, not violating and respecting the rights, opinions, values and choices of others.
Freedom is connected with dignity. When you are forced to do something against your will, it degrades the human personality.
The desire to preserve dignity and values is the basis of Freedom.
Freedom is an assessment of risks and your own fears.
And despite all the risks, doing what motivates you to go forward.
I imagine freedom as forward motion.
Forward motion is development - it is action.
Thus, Freedom is based on dignity, values, knowledge, rights, respect for oneself and others, constant movement and development.
Now we are going through a period when we have to defend our Freedom, its very foundations. All of them have been affected by our enemies, the enemy wants to destroy them completely by changing the basic values. That is why we are ready to take deadly risks for the sake of Freedom.
Iraida Medvedyeva
Freedom is always about choice. It's always about being able to do as you want or as you don't want. And I am free in each of these options. Even choosing something I don't like. And this is freedom for me - without an outside observer - God, morality, authority - to have options for choosing, where there are no right or wrong answers, but there is an opportunity, breathing easily, to choose your option. Even if I screw it up. Even if later it turns out that everything turned out badly for me. I chose it. I made this decision. I made my choice.
Freedom is about responsibility. What I do and what I choose. And when there is no "good" or "bad", the essence is manifested - real, the very flesh, the nature. Because what I really am is revealed in my freedom.
Freedom is adulthood - real adulthood, not when your parents let you choose one or another toy. And imagine that you are not offered anything. And imagine that there are not just two toys and they are not even toys. And parents do not exist.
Freedom must be suffered for in order to understand it and be ready for it. Freedom strikes one's very being and takes one's breath away.
Freedom is difficult. Freedom hurts. But it worth living only for the sake of freedom.
Alina Kobenko

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