Since the beginning of the war, 5.1 million Ukrainians have been forced out of their homes, either because they were destroyed or because hostilities made the areas too dangerous to live in. In the recent months, rising military actions in Kharkivska, Zaporizka, and Sumska oblasts in Eastern Ukraine have forced thousands more into displacement.
Many displaced people, especially the most vulnerable such as the elderly and people with disabilities, cannot afford to rent proper accommodation. It resulted in almost 500,000 internally displaced people looking for refuge in 7,200 collective centers all around the country.
Those collective centers are usually based in dormitories of educational institutions, sometimes in institutions themselves, or even in libraries, shops, or restaurants. However, lots of those facilities lack renovations, sanitary system repairs, food supplies, clothing, bedding, hygiene items, kitchen utensils and household appliances.
Supported by the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF), Acted partnered with a local civil society organization called “Dobrobud” to improve the living conditions in five collective centers in Dnipropetrovsk region.
The project mainly targets most vulnerable people: 211 elderly persons, 102 people with disabilities, 152 children and 16 families with three or more children.
Lyubov*, 84 years old, came to one of the centres from Lysychansk – a temporary occupied city in Luhansk oblast where she lived in a house with a vegetable patch. Before retiring, she worked in a clothing atelier for 20 years and then at a mine.
“Life was good before the war. This is the third war in my life: the World War II, then the War in Donbas in 2014, and now the full-scale invasion. I was living under fire the last five months in Lysychansk. Everything is destroyed there. I don’t have a house anymore, everything burnt down. I was living alone, and it was very hard. I had a dog. She felt when the shelling was coming and would bark to warn me, as if she was saying “hide, granny!”. After that she would look out to make sure I hid. One time I was taking out the trash and then an explosion hit near me, I fell and thought I was going to die. It was scary. After a while I got on an evacuation bus with French volunteers. We couldn’t stay in the city for five hours because of the shootings. My niece from Dnipro told me to come to her and she placed me in this collective center. I’ve been living here for 2 years. I have a lot of friends here in the center. When I was ill, they asked me how I was. They gave me a sweater and two jars of honey. I’m glad people are so kind here. They tell me that people love and miss me. There are a lot of immobile people here. I come to them and tell them the news.” – Lyubov*
The center where Lyubov lives in needed renovations to ensure good living conditions for the 120 people. Mold was growing in people’s rooms, which could lead to complex diseases such as respiratory system disorders, allergies, sinusitis, or asthma, especially for the most vulnerable inhabitants, including the 45 people with disabilities, 60 elderly and 27 children.
To improve air circulation and deal with the root cause of the mold, Acted and Dobrobud supported by Ukraine Humanitarian Fundreplaced the windows and installed ventilation systems in 15 rooms of the center.
Valeria*, lives in the center as well and works in the kitchen. She has three kids aged 8, 10, and 14.
“It’s great living here. We help each other: other parents, and new people. We have everything we need, from toothbrushes to shoes. Children get all the they need for their online studies. The center management also signed my daughter for dancing classes. The only issue for me was that we couldn’t open the old windows, there was very little space between them and beds. Some windows were not even opening at all. So, there was no air circulation, and the smell was terrible. Thanks to your organization, we now have new windows and good ventilation.” – Valeria*
Thanks to support of the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, these renovations helped remove the root cause of the mold, improving the living conditions and contributing to the psychological well-being of the 120 people. Acted in partnership with Dobrobud, will equip three more collective centers with ventilation systems, install new windows in one of them, and renovate a boiler room and insulate the fifth collective supporting 650 people in total.
*Names of beneficiaries have been changed for privacy purposes