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4 June 2020 - Story


Fifty-eight-year-old Tatiana* and her six-year-old granddaughter Alyona* fled the crisis in Eastern Ukraine. Alyona has a disability and cannot eat or walk by herself and is cared for by her grandmother. Tatiana used a cash grant from Save the Children to buy food to feed Alyona for the whole winter and buy shoes for her other granddaugher Irina*.

It’s clear Tatiana* would do anything for her granddaughters. Anything to keep them warm, safe and healthy. But sometimes even these simple things are almost impossible.

Tatiana and her granddaughters fled their hometown in eastern Ukraine when shells started to destroy the buildings around them. They ran for their lives. Now they live in a communal housing centre with other families displaced by the conflict.  

And although they are safe, life is far from easy. Tatiana often has little money to buy food and clothes and she worries about what the future brings. 

“My granddaughter Alyona* is six years old. I also have another granddaughter, Irina*, who is at school. She is 10,” explains Tatiana.

“Alyona has brain damage. I give her medicine now for her headaches. I have to watch her all the time because if she starts to cry or tries to hit herself she will vomit and stop breathing. It’s very dangerous. I cannot leave the house without her, it’s very difficult. 

“I’m worried there won’t be enough food or that we won’t be warm enough during winter. Aylona will not eat cereal without milk because she cannot chew. I prepare food for Alyona so it’s smooth and she can swallow it.

“Now I live like a butterfly – just one day at a time.”

Save the Children is helping the most vulnerable children like Alyona survive the crisis in Ukraine.

With funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), Save the Children has provided cash grants to more than 10,000 households to help them get through the harsh winter and buy food, warm clothes, medicine and pay rent.

“We received two cash grants from Save the Children,” says Tatiana. “I spent the first cash grant on rental payments and I bought shoes for my granddaughter Irina. The rest I spent on food.

“The second cash grant I spent on food for Alyona. I bought so much food because when the winter comes, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to go and buy food. Last winter there was so much snow and there’s not public transport so it’s difficult to move around. I bought all this food so I can feed Alyona for half a year, for the winter.

“It was very important to receive the cash grant because we can buy food for storage. If we didn’t get the cash grant I don’t know what we would have done.”