Joseph Sywenkyj is an American photojournalist whose current project is photographing injured Maidan activists and wounded Ukrainian soldiers as they attempt to go on with their lives after their injuries.
“I covered the Maidan from start to finish and I remember in the middle of things I just remembered seeing all these wounded people coming back towards the front lines of the barricades and I already knew at that point that I was going to be doing a project like this for quite some time. And when the war started, I just adapted it to that, started photographing soldiers as well, “ said Sywenkyj.
Sywenkyj stated that he’s not just looking to show wounded people, but to illustrate the relationships they have with family and friends. Some of the people who have been his subjects are Volodymyr Honcharovsky, who was shot three times on the Maidan, and is now stuck in a wheelchair with atrophied legs, and Vasyl Pelish, a volunteer fighter who had his arm cut off by separatists because he had a “Glory to Ukraine” tattoo on it.
“I wouldn’t describe them as broken, I find them to be extremely strong. They obviously have physical issues, some of them have psychological issues as well.”
Sywenkyj added that he spent a lot of time speaking and getting comfortable with them before he actually took any photographs.
Summarizing the state of Ukrainian hospitals, Sywenkyj said, “Things could be a lot better. I think hospitals and doctors do as much as they can with what they have. Without the volunteers I think things would be a lot worse, I think they play a major role in making sure these guys get better care. “
His photographs may be seen at: www.Rany.com.ua
Hromadske International's Nataliya Gumenyuk and Ian Bateson spoke with Joseph Sywenkyj on July 12, 2015.