The projects implemented under the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2014-2020 are not just indicators, budgets, reports and payments. Although these are inseparable elements, above all each project hides the specific ideas, values and dreams of people implementing it, as well as the stories of those who benefited from their implementation.
We want to bring some of them closer to you by the "Project stories" – the cycle which presents their more human (but also animal – as in the 1st, 13th and 14th episodes) dimension of our selected projects. We invite you to read!
On scaffolding piled several metres up, amid cement and dust, with trowels in their hands, in the sweat of their brows, are toiling... the women themselves. The strongest of them, in a large bowl instead of bread, is making concrete. Why? Because the male builders have left for the West in search of work. Despite this, a gem is slowly emerging from beneath the women's hands - the renovated façade of the Jesuit college in Lutsk, adjacent to the 16th century Czartoryski Tower. This - also undergoing restoration - is returning the favor with surprises that give history enthusiasts a heartbeat:
"Scio me nihil scire", said a wise man. This famous phrase best expresses the feelings I am feeling right now. The Czartoryski Tower has revealed yet another secret - the unexplored underground cellars. Scientists still have a lot of work ahead of them before the discovered rooms are made available to visitors, and no one knows how many more treasures the Tower will allow us to discover, but the greatest treasure I have for myself is the experience of being part of the "TwoTowers" project, part of the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2014-2020, which overcomes borders and makes you feel special! - Oleh Parfeniuk, head of the Ukrainian part of the project, commented warmly at the time.
The TwoTowers project, carried out in cooperation between the Executive Committee of the Lutsk City Council and the City of Lublin, concerned the revitalisation of the Czartoryski Tower with the defensive wall and the Jesuit Monastery in Lutsk and the Gothic Tower in Lublin. A modern museum was created in the underground cells of the Jesuit monastery.
History buffs in the partner city of Lublin were equally excited, as part of the same project work began on the renovation of the Gothic Tower, part of the Old Town fortifications.
It is one of the best-preserved fragments of Lublin's defensive walls and medieval defensive architecture in the entire region. (...) During the conservation work, we wondered whether it was possible to make the tower accessible and how the construction of wooden walkways would affect the exposition of this object, but we decided that it would be unjustified, as today we can see this object in the form it was given in the 16th century,' says Dr Hubert Mącik, the Municipal Conservator of Monuments at Lublin City Hall, passionately.
Thanks to the project, a model of the Old Town in Lublin in its shape from five hundred years ago was also created. In addition, a number of events were organised to promote this unusual place attracting tourists. But it was not easy...
These events were carried out at a special time, because a pandemic broke out in 2020 and we had to slow down some of the activities. Fortunately, during the summer we returned to this enthusiasm, being together in the space of the city – recalls Barbara Wybacz, coordinator of the Lublin Legends Festival.
Organised among the historic tenements, backstreets and squares of Lublin's Old Town, the festival was the most spectacular part of the project.
With its stories and tales, it complemented these spaces with additional values. This is a festival that is based on street theatre, on events that happen in space, involving visitors, residents, and spectators in all kinds of stories. In addition to the theatrical layer, installations-sculptures in public space were a very important element. (...) There was also a lot of music, but above all time spent together. The Festival of Legends was conceived as an event for children, for families - one that evokes that Eastern hospitality that we ascribe to ourselves as our special characteristic.
Difficulties harden characters and are a test for human bonds. The project partners emerged from it victorious and strengthened. They not only coped with the challenges of the pandemic, realised investments and events, but also faced together dramatic events that could not have been foreseen:
Today we are also united with our partners in their daily struggles, with Ukraine, which is immersed in war. Lublin is such a transit city where many refugees from Ukraine arrive and we try to provide them with first aid. (...) On a personal level, both our authorities and the office staff work on a voluntary basis at information points, at transit points such as the railway and bus stations. In the office we have many employees who are of Ukrainian origin, so they also get involved, keenly emotionally involved. We are happy that at least in this way we can help our partners. I think that also the projects we have been doing have contributed to the fact that we feel as one community and this help comes naturally – concludes Barbara.
Today, when Russian missiles have also reached partner city Lutsk, such experiences of the already 20-year cooperation between the two cities and the strong human ties are a source of confidence for both sides that the good days of building together will return. Especially since it is possible and worth building on such a solid foundation.
The space under the Jesuit monastery in Lutsk is no longer an underground cell, it is a real underground city! Two parts of the historic galleries have been combined to form the largest underground complex in Ukraine. I would never have thought to address the Poland-Belarus-Ukraine Programme as a living being, but now the time has come: "Dear Programme, you have changed my city for the better. Thank You very much!".
More details about the TwoTowers project can be found here.
 „I know that I know nothing”
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