THE RUSYN HOMELAND FUND
Although Rusyn culture is very much alive and well in the U.S.-as witnessed by the growth of C-RS - ironically our culture faces some true challenges in the homeland.
Consider first of all that almost 50% of all Rusyns left the homeland during the Great Immigration, leaving behind a small group. Soon came the Communist years. For over 40 years, those governments attempted to eradicate Rusyn culture and identity. They simply declared Rusyns did not exist. Instead, they were declared Ukrainians and ordered to be identified as such on their personal and governmental documents.
I'm sure that it is very difficult for us as Americans to truly imagine the impact on cultural identity of such a practice, which persisted for two generations. But the challenges didn't end there.
In Poland, the Rusyns were forcibly relocated from their ancestral homeland to western Poland and Ukraine in 1947. Every effort was made to eliminate their sense of community and cultural identity.
In Slovakia, many Rusyns, rejecting the idea of being Ukrainian, listed themselves as the majority group - Slovak. This practice of identifying as Slovak has persisted in post-Communist times, so that, in the 1991 census, in the vast majority of Rusyn villages fewer than 50% claimed to be Rusyns. I recently spent two months in Slovakia and it was common to hear the sentiment in the Rusyn villages that our language and "ways" will not long endure.
In Ukraine, where the largest number of Rusyns live, the current government continues the Communist practice of denying Rusyn identity. The Ukrainian government recently listed more than 100 ethnic minorities in its new constitution. Rusyns were not among them. The official position in Ukraine remains that Rusyns were, are and will be Ukrainians.
If our culture were a person, it would be in need of a recovery program. That's why we've created the Rusyn Homeland Fund.
In the midst of these and other obstacles, the good news is that there exist Rusyn cultural organizations in the homeland which are dedicated to the revival of Rusyn awareness. As you can imagine, living in post-Communist societies, their activities are restricted by a lack of funds.
C-RS has made the decision to create the Rusyn Homeland Fund to meet this need. We plan to distribute the funds we raise to support the current and future cultural activities of these Rusyn organizations. In anticipation of your valid concerns that the money will be used wisely, we intend to monitor the use of these funds and to receive an accounting of their use.
C-RS wishes to be an organization which communicates and celebrates the traditions of Rusyn culture. But we also wish to forge strong ties to our fellow Rusyn organizations in the homeland to help preserve our common culture into the future.
Won't you join us in this effort? If you would like to lend your assistance and make this your project too, please make out a check in any amount to "The Rusyn Homeland Fund" and send it to
125 Westland Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Walt Orange C-RS European Liaison
Return to the C-RS Home Page on the Carpatho-Rusyn Knowledge Base