Ukraine Acted

Starting life anew in a collective center in Ukraine: Daryna’s story

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 resulted in massive internal displacement, movement of millions of Ukrainians out of the country, mass civilian casualties, as well as widespread damage and destruction to civilian infrastructure.

Of course, we want to go home, but we realize there's nowhere to go yet.

Daryna*, a 49-year-old internally displaced woman from Luhansk region.

An estimated 5.9 million Ukrainians fled to Europe as refugees, while 350,000+ fled elsewhere in the world. In addition, more than five million people have been internally displaced, marking the beginning of a refugee crisis of unparalleled scale since World War II.   

Numerous displaced individuals lack the financial means to secure suitable housing, especially the most at-risk populations – the elderly, and people with disabilities. Consequently, nearly 500,000 individuals who were internally displaced are now seeking shelter across 7,200 collective centers in Ukraine.   

These centers are typically established within educational institution dormitories, occasionally within the institutions themselves, or even in spaces such as libraries, shops, or restaurants. However, many of these facilities suffer from lack of refurbishment, repairs to sanitary systems, provisions of food, clothing, bedding, hygiene essentials, kitchen tools, and household appliances. 

Acted conducts a variety of programs focusing on safety, education, repairs, provision of hygiene items, kitchen utensils and capacity-building sessions for collective centers’ managers, with the objective of empowering internally displaced persons and enhancing their well-being. 

Daryna's story

Daryna and her family left now occupied Rubizhne city in Luhansk region. She says 90% of their city was destroyed. Together with her husband and 14-year-old daughter they moved into a collective center in Pavlohrad city, in Dnipro region.

Before the war, businesses and schools worked, there were children's clubs. Everyone had a job, we celebrated holidays, and lived happily. We didn’t even think this could happen.


Daryna used to be a kindergarten teacher in Rubizhne city but has found herself unemployed as many kindergartens have been shut down. Now, she likes doing handcrafts and decorating her floor in the dormitory.

I love being creative. Decorating, transforming, and organizing holidays is my element. We transformed the room here, pasted the wallpaper, then added some flowers, curtains and tablecloths.


Daryna was laughing when she explained how she moved the furniture three times already to free up more space in the dormitory room. Her family lives in a pass-through room, sharing space with another family. She says it is hard to rent an apartment now because the prices have risen.  

Daryna says that their neighborhood in Rubizhne city was the epicenter of hostilities and was completely destroyed.  

We got under shelling on March 15th. It was like a second birthday for us. Shells were exploding 5 meters away from us. My husband and I hid behind the electric switchboard and my son hid under the wall of the house. We heard about 15 shells. My mind was going "Well, I'm saying goodbye to my life.


When the shelling stopped for a while, the family hid in the basement nearby. They stayed over there until another round of explosions passed and then Daryna’s husband and son took her under the arms, and they ran to Daryna’s sister apartment where their daughter was staying. 

When I was running, I was crying and laughing hysterically, it was a terrible thing to experience. After that, I was afraid to leave the apartment. We stayed at my sister's all the time. My husband and son brought some food and water wherever they could find it. Once from the balcony I saw a man drinking from a puddle. I cannot imagine such horror. Thanks to my husband and son, we drank fresh water.


On April 2nd, the gas supply pipe was damaged, and the supply stopped completely in the city. It was 6C° in the apartment where Daryna’s family lived, and they had to sleep with clothes and shoes on.

The fact that we were saved then, helps me to live on now. Even in such conditions, in a dormitory. I want to live on, my oldest son is 21, I want to see my grandchildren, and to see my younger daughter finish her studies. I'm such a person: I try to be positive.


Acted supports collective centers like the one where Daryna currently lives. Financially supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Acted replaced the roof covering of the dormitory ensuring it does not leak anymore and that the residents are warm in the winter. Acted also equipped a leisure room to provide people with space to study, relax and socialize. Finally, Acted renovated bomb shelter bathrooms so that people can use the bomb shelter in case of air raid alerts.

*The name was changed to protect the woman’s identity.  

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