A journey into the unknownPublished: Mar 23, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
Millions of Ukrainians fled their homes to escape the war; most have left behind housing, jobs, friends, and everyday necessities. Almost 4.9 million people have left for other countries, and more than 5 million moved to safer regions of Ukraine. While trying to adapt to the existing conditions in a new location—looking for work, entering higher education institutions, changing schools and kindergartens, and arranging their everyday life— they all share the same dream of ending the war and returning home. To help smoothen the disruption of dislocation and displacement, we provide financial assistance programs to the people dislocated by Russia's war; these are being implemented in most regions of Ukraine, including Vinnytsia.
Valentyna Kravchenko fled from the almost totally destroyed town of Bakhmut. Previously, her granddaughter fled with her two children. It was they who convinced Valentyna to leave her home and seek safety and a new life together in the safer Vinnytsia Oblast.
"I have two lovely great-grandchildren. The younger one is 8, and the older one is 15. He was about to enter university, but he lost himself because of the war. Unfortunately, his long-held dreams of a profession have faded. He does not know what he will do in the future."
Valentyna worked in banking all her life, and after retirement, she dreamed about enjoying life and helping her granddaughter raise her children. Russia's war has left the family with nothing, and it is tough to survive such a fate at a respectable age.
Not far from Valentyna, we meet Hanna Maksymenko, a resident of Mykolaiv oblast. As a teacher at the Snihurivka Vocational Lyceum, Hanna always had detailed plans for her students. Her plans included excursions, laboratory work, sports competitions, and internships at regional enterprises. Her plans for the semester were always thorough, yet after February 24, 2022, all these plans were destroyed.
Hanna's family experienced explosions and air raids; they saw the Russian Army entered the city in occupation:
"We prepared quickly, joined the evacuation convoy and left. We came under fire on the way. It's still like a bad dream: an explosion and everything in dust. Maybe the artillery lifted a layer of soil, which caused the dust storm. This dust is what saved us; we were not visible. Now, more than anything, we dream of returning home."
Olena Sibirkina also dreams of returning to her hometown of Lysychansk. Together with her husband and daughter, she left her home last spring. Later, her parents were also convinced to evacuate. Olena says it is impossible to live in Lysychansk until the war is over.
"It was very hard psychologically. We couldn't sleep, and we couldn't eat. We couldn't even move in our own home. I was constantly afraid for the lives of my daughter and husband. I saw no way out. So as soon as we had the opportunity, we packed our bags and left. I didn't care where I went or what conditions I lived in, as long as I was far away from the war," says Olena.
Here in Vinnytsia, Olena's family was accepted by relatives. Her daughter began studying management at a local university, and her husband went to work as a driver. Olena is looking for a job in the medical field. But she has had no luck so far.
Together with the financial support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we at People in Need have opened registration for financial assistance to internally displaced persons in Vinnytsia Oblast. The plan is to provide support to more than 6,000 people. Similar work has been or will be undertaken in most regions of Ukraine.