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4 June 2020 - News


Elena Kushch/Save the Children. *Name changed to protect identity.
Thursday 14 January 2016

Viktor’s* voice shakes with emotion as he talks about his home. He built the house with his own two hands almost 40 years ago and has raised his children and grandchildren under its roof.

When the conflict reached his town in Eastern Ukraine, Viktor and his wife Natalia* sheltered in the basement because they couldn’t bear to leave their home. But eventually the shelling became too severe and they were forced to flee.

One day soon after they had left, Viktor’s neighbour called to say their home had been hit with three shells and was on fire.

“When I saw our house after the fire, I was shocked. The house burnt to the ground. Only the walls were left and nothing else. Even the fence was burnt and lay on the ground. My wife fell down and started to cry,” Viktor says.

When Viktor’s grandchildren visited their house after it was shelled, they were shocked.

“I was carrying Sveta*, she was one and a half years old at the time,” Viktor says. “Suddenly it started to rain. Sveta looked at me with surprise – she could not understand why we were standing outside and were not going inside our house to hide from the rain. She could not understand that there was no house anymore.”

Twelve-year-old Georgii* says only two toys survived the fire. “One is Sveta’s teddy bear and another is a toy phone,” he says. “When I came and saw our house after the fire, there was so much rubbish.”

Luckily, a lot of people came to help Viktor and his family – his former boss and colleagues, neighbours and friends.

Natalia says: “A lot of people helped us, even people from the church. We loaded six trucks with the wreckage from inside the house.”

After the debris was taken away, Viktor with his friends and family started to repair their house. Day by day, bit by bit they built a new roof, laid new floors and plastered the walls. But when the prices for construction materials more than tripled, Viktor’s family could no longer afford the repairs.   

Save the Children provided Viktor with a cash grant so he could finish the house in time for winter. He bought doors, linoleum to cover the cement floor and glass wool to provide insulation for the house. And when everything was finished, Viktor’s family finally moved back into their home. 

 “Sometimes I cry, thinking back to our old house. But then I remember how much support we received…and it makes me believe that everything will be good,” Natalia says.

Save the Children’s work in Ukraine:

In April 2014, fighting broke out between armed groups and government forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. As the conflict intensified and spread, children and adults were forced to flee their homes. So far, there are more than 1.5 million internally displaced people registered and 3.1 million children and adults in need of humanitarian assistance. Another 800,000 people are living along the contact line between Government forces and armed groups. Insecurity in many locations along the contact line constantly endangers the lives of these children and their families.

With funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Save the Children is providing conflict-affected families in Eastern Ukraine with cash grants so they can pay for rent and utilities or essential house repairs. More than 700 households have so far received cash transfers.

Save the Children is also providing shelter materials and repairing the homes of vulnerable families in towns and villages along the contact line in Eastern Ukraine with funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).

Save the Children has so far reached more than 92,000 children and adults affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine with humanitarian assistance.