Actress Dasha Tregubova Chronicles Her War Story With Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Voices of the Peaceful Project
Actress, author, television host, YouTuber, and film producer Dasha Tregubova is a glittering star in the firmament of Ukraine’s entertainment industry. Recognized by her peers and the public as a force to be reckoned with, Tregubova is known for her relentless efforts to bring the truth to light, her indefatigable spirit, and her artistic and deeply nuanced understanding of the human implications wrought by the war between her home country and Russia. As Tregubova recently revealed to the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Voices of the Peaceful project, she’s learned that using creativity to transform personal tragedy into an outlet for artistic expression can offer people much-needed therapeutic relief to help them better cope with the enduring traumas of war.
Documenting the Truths of War, One Story at a Time
Moved by the plight of Ukraine’s children — Russia’s most innocent victims — billionaire steel and mining magnate Rinat Akhmetov, who heads up the country’s elite Metinvest conglomerate, felt compelled to establish an organization to help alleviate their suffering. His eponymous Rinat Akhmetov Foundation grew out of that desire. In addition to offering practical assistance to children and families impacted by the war, the foundation later expanded its scope to include initiatives aimed at addressing the war’s cultural and historical ramifications as well.
One such program is the Voices of the Peaceful project, which functions under the auspices of the foundation’s Museum of Civilian Voices. Its mission is to record and document for posterity the eyewitness testimony of Ukrainians who have lived through the ravages of war and have been forever changed by the experience.
Voices of the Peaceful: How the Language of Art Helps Survivors Heal
While she has a higher profile than the average Ukrainian citizen, Dasha Tregubova considers herself one of the people. In the days prior to the war, like her fellow Ukrainians, she felt its threat hanging heavily over her head like the proverbial sword of Damocles. When the Russian invasion became an all-too-terrible reality, Tregubova’s ability to draw on her deeply ingrained artistic training enabled her to create a cathartic outlet with which to ward off at least some of the darkness for herself, as well as a growing audience hungry for emotional respite.
“On Feb. 23,  I had a poetry evening. Even then, there was a premonition of something inevitable, but we decided that poetry and creativity calm people down, put them in the right mood,” Tregubova recalled during the foundation’s fall Blogger Camp event in Transcarpathia in western Ukraine. “The evening ended late … When my mother and daughter called me and said that the war had started, I asked them to give me some time: Wake up, drink coffee, and figure out what to do next.”
For Tregubova, what came next was a trip that brought her and her daughter first to Austria and later to Poland. While in Poland, she made the acquaintance of the Ukrainian ambassador, to whom she pledged her aid in the best way she knew how — through the arts. Tregubova continues the important work of uplifting Ukraine’s collective spirit, most notably with her highly respected ongoing video project #DashaChitaye, which focuses on performing and promoting the work of modern Ukrainian poets.
Among the program’s fans are Ukrainian soldiers who often write to her. “This is the kind of therapy that helps you hang on,” Tregubova shared. “Only music, cinema, poetry, painting can reach all people — and books, of course. To each his own. And these are the things without which there will be no nation because it is a language and an opportunity to speak out; [to] make someone experience something [anew] and [to] cry.”
Tears, Tregubova believes, are a powerful tool for healing. “We all had our usual lives destroyed to one degree or another,” she admitted. “Each person will look for what he can do to get himself out of the victim state. And this is where creativity comes in handy. At my performances, I read the first two verses and everyone starts sobbing,” she reflected. “[Any] psychologist will [tell you]: ‘If a person cries, they feel better.’ I have everyone crying.”