The satellite city of Kyiv has accepted about 4,000 internally displaced people. A joint project of the EU and the International Organization for Migration supports the local IDP relief center. Here people can get clothes and household items, talk to a psychologist, find work and a kindergarten or a school for children, attend courses and creative classes.
And it turned out that today not only those who left the occupied part of Donbas come here, but also the residents Boryspil. People come not only to take something, but also to give. How does it work, and is there any sense of taking efforts for social activities? We asked founders of Novyi Skhid NGO about it.
Tamara Vasylenko worked as a manipulation nurse for blood transfusion at a hospital in Donetsk. Now, four years after 2014, which turned everything upside down, she also helps people, but in a different way. Hundreds of people, who seek work, education, psychological assistance or such basic things as food and clothes, come to the organization that the woman from Donetsk has founded in Boryspil. We are standing in one of the two rooms that Novyi Skhid occupies: clothes and children’s toys are sorted in piles here. There is a creative environment in the next room: products from master classes are exhibited there.
Tamara left Donetsk at the end of June 2014. Like many others, she had to go through half of Ukraine to find a new home.
“My daughter-in-law was pregnant, and when she came to hospital to pass the registration procedure, she was told the following: we do not accept separatists here, go to Donetsk and register there,” that is how an attempt to settle in Berdiansk ended. The family went to a village in Poltava Oblast, but did not dare to stay in conditions when the nearest hospital is 50 kilometers away. A third destination point was Boryspil, where they were sheltered in the outhouse by a friend’s family.
“I cried for half a year,” Tamara recalls. “Tears do not stop, and that’s all! I couldn’t sleep, eat. You do not know where to go, you want to go home. We even had no saucepan to boil the water to bathe a baby. They gave us forks, spoons, etc. at the Red Cross”
For her, the way out of this situation began with the center for psychosocial adaptation of IDPs, which worked in the city at that time. There, as Tamara says, psychologists “brought her back to normal condition”, meaning that she stopped crying.
The organization, where the IDPs were then provided with emergency financial and psychological assistance (it was funded by Germany) soon finished its work in Ukraine. But the people who met there, started their own business.
In 2016, IDPs registered a non-governmental organization in Boryspil. They did not have a single grant back then – only the help of other non-governmental organizations and charitable foundations. Now, Novyi Skhid includes one and a half thousand people, and the organization itself is much more than “humanitarian aid”. But at first, it was really necessary to talk about basic things and survival.
“A new family arrived,” recalls Tamara Vasylenko. “They did not know about us, then they started to come. And Serhii, their eldest son, came so pale; he sits down, and … missed the chair. I say: Serhii, what’s wrong with you? Maybe you didn’t eat? I did. What did you eat? Tea. And in the morning? Tea. And for lunch? Tea with gingerbread.”
It turned out that the family has no money even for potatoes and carrots to cook a soup. Tamara is surprised that the children, namely Serhii and his 16-year-old sister, did not ask for anything, but went to look for a job. Activists collected clothes and food for them, and later on managed to send the children to a sanatorium. “The children came back so satisfied and we asked them what they liked most of all. “We had four meals a day!”
It turned to be an employment center by chance
Today, this and other families have already adapted to the new place. And other requests have been put in the forefront, for example, studying. Master craftsmen, musicians, teachers of needlework, computer literacy and first aid come here to conduct classes for children and adults. And the center has earned a reputation of a place where they can recommend employees – local enterprises apply here. Even Boryspil Airport.
“They come from the HR Department, they bring a list of professionals they need. They call from a hospital saying that they need a nurse or dishwasher … We call everyone right away: girls, men, we need an accountant! And they are immediately employed,” says Tamara Vasylenko.
Because of the occupation of Donetsk, Viktoriia and her husband lost their business there. “I was engaged in advertising, and my husband was engaged in video surveillance and alarm systems. When everything was taken there, we had to start from scratch. I helped my husband create a database of contacts; I had to look for operators, and these are people. They must be qualified, responsible.” Viktoriia surprisingly states that it was difficult to find personnel in Boryspil: people did not respond to vacancies, and in search of operators of the console and electricians, she and her husband came to the organization of IDPs.
“At first, IDPs were not employed with great desire,” says Tamara Vasylenko. “And now, on the contrary, we are not looking for a job, businesses are looking for us.”
“The only thing we didn’t grasp was a real estate agency,” laughs Yuliia, another activist of the organization. She is a traumatologist and roentgenologist, leaving Donetsk on 22 June 2014 (at the height of the fighting) with two children and being pregnant with the third one, and her brother’s wife with three children, the youngest of whom was five months of age: “We arrived in Kyiv by chance, because my brother managed to buy tickets at the ticket office: he bought the tickets in the direction for which tickets were available.” recalls the girl. They were looking for housing for a long time, until they came across a private house: “One man rented out a house in the center of the city, an old one; it seemed that some old lady or old man had lived in it. There were no conditions at all; we brought water, but at least there was a hand lever pump and a territory where you could watch the children. The owner came to show us the house. Can you imagine: three adults and five children. Where are you from? Anyway. And he says: live as long as you want. We were shocked that we were told this during a week of ordeals throughout the region.”
In this house, the family lived for six months, until it was able to rent housing. They began to communicate with people when they started to look for kindergartens and schools. After all, when a person arrives, he does not know either the transport or the location of the hospital, kindergarten and school. That is how Yuliia came to Novyi Skhid.
How do they manage to finance themselves?
Already together, the women from Donetsk advanced further: they won a grant for the organization, and the center received more opportunities. At that time, they had no idea how that was done.
“We were advised to see the grant announcement. We looked at two of them. Well, we looked – and then what?” laughs Tamara.
The situation was that the center was losing the premises, as previously it worked in the building of a German organization, and it was closed. It was necessary to seek own funding, and in the evening, the women sat down to write a grant application. They say: since they did not know how to do it, they emotionally wrote everything that was in the plans on paper: “We wrote until 2 am. We just took it and wrote it!”
Soon, they were called for training by the International Organization for Migration. “I asked the organizer of the adaptation center what did it mean? She says: if an international organization comes to you, then your project is accepted.” The coaches helped formulate the project correctly, and soon the public organization received funding. They purchased equipment, musical instruments, tents, paints, easels and much more that is needed for study and events.
In general, during the period of work, Novyi Skhіd received two grants, in particular from the International Organization for Migration (an intergovernmental organization whose projects for IDPs in Ukraine are funded by the European Union and governments of individual countries) and from CrimeaSOS (a charitable foundation funded by the UN Refugee Agency, USAID and other international donors).
In addition, Novyi Skhіd develops the urban space of Boryspil.
They put in order a recreation area by the lake, but for the time being they collect pieces of paper, bottles; they decided to hold a large subbotnik on the lake and they did it together with the city council and city residents.
Now, the plans are to teach people to earn money for themselves, give them a fishing rod instead of fish. This new direction is the development of social entrepreneurship, that is, the cooperation of non-governmental organizations and private business. Today, they sew eco-bags, weave rugs, decorate glass and wood at the IDP center. “We haven’t sold yet; we’ll prepare the goods and we will start selling them. We sold only at exhibitions so far,” the girls say.
Residents of Boryspil soon realized that something was happening in the center: now they come to classes on their own and bring their children because everything is free here. The master class was even held in a village near Boryspil. “We set,” says Tamara, “the children run, and all with the money, asking how much a master class costs? And we say: it’s free!”
The women say that they already have “one team” with Boryspil; there are fewer problems with the non-perception of IDPs; relations with the residents of Boryspil have become open and they consider themselves members of the community. But despite the adaptation, nostalgia for home is still there. Yuliia and Viktoriia explain that people are strongly influenced by the fact that they left unprepared. After all, when you did not collect your stuff, you were not ready inside yourself either. In 2014, they left suddenly and allegedly “for 10 days.” “If an unprepared flower is pulled out of a pot and planted in another one, it will wither. We have our stuff, property there. But we inspire ourselves with positive things. I am here in my own land,” says Viktoriia.
“In 2014, I felt like a tramp. I came here, went to the square, and start sobbing: the lights were on in the windows – and I stood and sobbed,” recalls Tamara Vasylenko. Today, she is reminded of that time only by iron mugs and plates from the Red Cross remaining in everyday life. Life has improved, but there is one big unsolved problem – the majority of IDPs still live in rented apartments. There is their real estate left behind the line of demarcation, which they cannot manage. “Neighbouring houses were destroyed, and our roof was smashed and windows were broken: they shot through the house. Heating was broken down”, this was the house Tamara found in 2017, when she came to pick up her stuff. And when Yuliia, a few years later, took the children to visit the house in Donetsk, the youngest child, born in Boryspil, began asking about it all the time even though he had never lived there.
By Tetiana Yakubovych
Source – OSTROV