In the small village of Velyka Dymerka in the Kyiv region, local residents are sorting through the debris of destroyed houses, hoping to save what they can. Others continue to plant vegetable gardens, preserve food for the winter and try to come to terms with the loss and destruction.
This is the new reality for the Velyka Dymerka community. Its main street used to be a place where locals shared what little they had, and neighbours chatted over garden fences. But in February 2022, the village was awoken by the shrill sound of air raid sirens and shelling overhead.
Grabbing a few essential items, two retired sisters – Anna and Larysa – fled to their neighbour’s cellar – a cold place without light where homemade jam and pickled vegetables were stored.
There were 35 villagers, including children. There was high humidity and many people fell ill. I went to my house nearby to take some pills. Before I could leave the house, I immediately heard the whistling of a rocket that hit my house a few seconds later. I miraculously managed to escape, but my house was completely destroyed, wiped out.
Five days later, a rocket also hit Anna’s sister’s house. “I loved our home so much, everything was made for comfort here. Flowers always grew nearby, grandchildren ran and ate fruit straight from the trees in our garden: berries, apples, raspberries. Also, my son made a swing for the children, and we often enjoyed spending time with our family there.” says Larysa.
But even now, Larysa, continues to tend her garden and dream that one day her family will be back from abroad. And they all will celebrate victory.
Oleg and Marina spent years building their dream house. This was the project of their life. They had planned it for a long time and had come up with every detail for a comfortable life. The family also had saved a lot of money to invest it in the house.
Now I have lost everything. My dream is destroyed.
Their 25-year-old daughter Oksana lived an ordinary life before the war. She studied to become a teacher, graduated from the university in 2022 and hoped to spend this summer peacefully, as all previous years she had exams and did not have an opportunity to rest. As soon as the conflict escalation in the country was announced, she, her fiance and friends went from Kyiv to her native village – Vedyka Dymerka – thinking that it would be safer there. However, the village was occupied.
“When a stranger set foot in our yard, we took some valuables, jumped over the fence, ran through the forest, through the cemetery and were sheltered, fed and provided with accommodation by people in the village 20 km away from ours,” says Oksana.
Many villagers lost everything. Weeks of deadly shelling and rockets have left damage and destruction. But people remain positive.
“We will rebuild everything, restore everything and gather again at the big family table to celebrate the New Year. We also plan to renovate the family collection of toy cars that my grandfather started collecting,” says Oleg.
Winter is coming, so now we are actively rebuilding the house to have a place to live. With the money we received, we bought windows. Thank you. This is very valuable.
Cash remains one of the most effective ways to provide flexible and rapid assistance to Ukrainians, whether they have recently evacuated a besieged area or suffered damages to their home from shelling and missile strikes. It gives them capacity and dignity to purchase the most essential items they need. This is why ACTED together with Estonian Refugee Council, with financial support from the European Union, distributes multi-purpose cash to conflict-affected populations. Overall, more than 11,800 people have received help through this project.