Rīga's Ukrainian community center full of life

A community center 'Common Ground' was set up in Rīga in mid-March to provide Ukrainian refugees and allies a place to socialize. Currently, concerts, masterclasses, language lessons and other social events take place there daily, Latvian Radio reported on May 16.

“Soon there will be a kitchen and we hope to cook here very soon,” said Inese Dābola, one of the volunteer activists who set up the center in Andrejsala. Ukrainians can receive different kinds of help, but the main aim of the center is to create a place to socialize, including by learning Latvian.

“There's a class here. Here we learn Latvian. Demand is huge. Here's a piano, too. [..] Every day a pianist, Artur Nikulin, comes to practice. [..] Then we have one Ukrainian oboist who asked if he could come to us to practice because it would be very loud in the hotel. We are, of course, happy,” Inese Dābola said.

There is also a computer class, a nursery, playrooms and board games, yoga, and psychotherapy. A 'free shop' has been set up where Ukrainians can get a variety of things they need, such as clothing. Every Saturday, the people of the center also have events and concerts.

“It is wonderful, it is a very necessary place because I see there are people who have left Ukraine for the first time, and especially if you have come alone, for example, a mother with a child and there are no relatives or acquaintances, then they are very lonely in Riga,” said Anna Tiana, a Ukrainian employee at the center.

"I can see them changing here every day, they start smiling more, they see friends, and not only Ukrainians, but locals and volunteers [come]," said Anna Tiana.

This is also one of the main objectives of the establishment of the center, according to Inese Dābola: to create a place where not only Ukrainians but also locals would come together.

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