My absurd tour: Ukraine

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My absurd tour: Ukraine

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My absurd tour: Ukraine

My absurd tour: Ukraine
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“Nemec?” ?? German? ?? asks the grim-looking officer at the Ukrainian border crossing in Uzhgorod. I nod.


“Nemec?” ?? German? ?? asks the grim-looking officer at the Ukrainian border crossing in Uzhgorod. I nod. In perfect English, he asks about drugs. My decided “No!” is the starting signal for a complete dismantling of man and machine. After all my belongings are scattered on the floor, my papers are pushed back into my hand. They didn’t find what they were looking for. The request to vacate the space as quickly as possible is unmistakable. While I am slowly packing my belongings back onto the Transalp, I have time to think about my being here. Since 1997 there has been contact between our “Fitness Association Prohlis e.V.” in Dresden and the Ukrainian children’s home in Schewtschenkove, which we have already been able to help with a number of campaigns. On my tour I want to bring donations and find out about the current situation on site.

My absurd tour: Ukraine


Students of the Shevchenko children’s home, festively dressed up.

A grandiose backdrop with old wooden houses and mothers tending cows compensates for the experiences on arrival. I feel like I have been transported back 100 years, apart from the impeccable asphalt. What is going on among my Metzeler Tourance is amazing! 70 kilometers of cornering paradise through the Ukrainian Carpathians, before the suspension travel of my Transalp on bad roads is again fully challenged.

Shevchenko is located near the city of Uman and was named after its most famous inhabitant, the poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861). His poems, steeped in love for their homeland, are still recited today by young and old. The director of the children’s home can’t believe her eyes when I pull my Honda into the yard. It is difficult to understand by Ukrainian standards that someone should undertake the long journey from Germany to here ?? and then also with the motorcycle. The greeting is correspondingly warm, and the dinner table is almost overflowing with the little that the residents have to offer. That kind of hospitality always makes me very embarrassed. Toasts follow friendship, family, and love. My switch to non-alcoholic drinks is only accepted with a smile at a late stage. The high percentage alcohol and the exhausting journey are showing their effects. And the sight of the prepared couch gives me the rest.

My absurd tour: Ukraine


Peer Grallert covered 12,000 kilometers in his Honda Transalp in 12 days.

The next day in the nearby district town of Svenigorodka. Several bank employees are busy converting the donations into the local currency “Hryvnia” to swap. Notes are counted and sorted several times, countless forms filled out and signed. The director uses the money to buy urgently needed drawing utensils and accessories for the sewing room. And finally a long-cherished dream of the home can be realized: a stereo system for music lessons. The range is surprisingly large and the electrical shop is heavily guarded. For most Ukrainians, these goods are completely unaffordable.

Despite the difficult circumstances in the country, the ninth grade students say that they want to stay and do a job here. You can find out about life in Germany in a completely impartial manner. However, leaving abroad is out of the question for them. The English teacher Jura counters my comment about the wonderful local nature by stating that unfortunately you cannot eat it. He earns the equivalent of around 80 euros a month, but sometimes the payment stays off for months. His vegetable garden thus becomes essential for survival. The expectations of the “Orange Revolution” have long since given way to the insight that only the powerful stuff their pockets. Unemployment is high in the country and the crime rate is rising. But you don’t complain, you endure the situation with admirable serenity and confidence.

The government has only limited funds available to maintain the home. After all, renovation work has been carried out on the schoolhouse since my last visit in 1997. And the then desolate sports hall is also unrecognizable. The people here are faced with great tasks. But despite all the prevailing problems, life here seems pleasantly slowed down. I want to capture these moments, knowing that this rural character will lose its charming patina over time. The last day. The children and young people thank them for the support with traditional dances and songs. That doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Doswidanja Shevchenkoe – goodbye!

Brief information on Ukraine

Area: 603 700 km2
Population: 46 million
Capital: Kiev
Currency: hryvnia

Author information

Peer Grallert, 47 years old, works for the technical services of the city of Dresden. On a trip to Ukraine, he covered 4,000 kilometers in 12 days with his Honda Transalp

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