Ukrainian Americans of New Mexico gathered in Albuquerque on October 13, 2018 to join in communion with all other “Light a Candle in Remembrance” actions throughout the globe to commemorate the anniversary of the Ukrainian murder by famine genocide of 1932-33.
The opening solemn panakhyda was sung at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Catholic Church in Albuquerque NM by the assembled choir and by pastor Fr. Artur Bubnevych. Mrs. Nataliya Pavlenko, whose family lived and farmed in the Chernihiv/ Nizhyn region of Ukraine, then recollected her childhood memories of the stories told by her mother and grandparents who finally broke their painful silence decades after the horrors of those years, but yet made everyone in the family promise to never speak of this anywhere again outside their home for fear of arrest and imprisonment. She relayed how communist party activists came to their house and took every scrap of food, grain and property they could carry off and how her mother, then a small child of 4 herself, was warned to hide in fear of being killed and eaten when anyone knocked on their door, of how her grandmother, to her last days on earth, went to bed each night only after placing a morsel of bread under her pillow to safeguard against the Holodomor happening again. She explained how her mother was told to swallow small stones to avert the gnawing of constant hunger and how the family pounded acorns in the forest to make flour to shape into little bitter pancakes to eat.
Two documentary films on the Holodomor were then presented to the audience of over 70 attendees, followed by a repast of Ukrainian foods prepared by the organizing committee members. Books and brochures on the topic were also on display, and the organizers acknowledged the generous donation of the Holodomor teacher’s handbook and other titles by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press.
Much was learned and shared that evening and participants left with a greater understanding of the lasting effects of the genocide against Ukraine, a crime which had been silenced for so very long.