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Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine on 24 February 2022, millions of lives have been impacted by the crisis. More than 15 million people have fled their homes - over 8.7 million leaving for neighbouring countries and 6.2 million internally displaced across Ukraine.
Concern Worldwide is one of the Disaster Emergency Committee’s (DEC) 15 member charities and together we have been raising urgent funds to help those forced to flee their homes amid escalating conflict.
Leaving their homes and possessions is one of the hardest things families have had to face but their journey is far from over. Away from their homes and towns, people are struggling with the few items they could carry and no source of income in parts of Ukraine that are alien to them.
Through our partner ACTED, funds raised through the DEC have been used to support 4,000 individuals through cash assistance distributions and has identified eight organisations that will receive cash donations to support conflict-affected individuals in their communities.
Below you can read the stories of Alyona* and Alexandra* who shared what their lives were like before the conflict, how they and their families are coping now and how Concern supporters’ have helped them to support their families during this difficult time.
*Names changed for protection
Alyona’s journey in Ukraine
Alyona, whose name has been changed for protection, had to flee the Donbas region and was supported through Concern, ACTED and DEC’s cash assistance project.
Here, she tells us about her experience in her own words.
"My name is Alyona, I am 57 and left Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region. I have a higher education and worked as a laboratory assistant at a plant in charge of producing building materials.
I have a disability and use a hearing aid. My 80-year-old mother depends a lot on me and needs third-party care due to age-related health problems. At the moment, we live in a collective centre where we are provided food and clothes. Now our home city is on the front-line under constant shelling. After the beginning of active hostilities in Pokrovsk, the security situation greatly deteriorated and many people were forced to leave the city, losing their homes and work. Pokrovsk is a small cosy city in the Donetsk region; we lived in the central district and had access to shops and hospitals. Near our house is a square where we spent a lot of time with our grandchildren who came to visit. I liked my work and many colleagues became my friends. My mother left with me when the conflict began. My children and grandchildren also left Pokrovsk, but they live in another region and we are now separated from them; each and every one of us is very sad.
I worked as a lab technician at a company, and in my spare time I liked to spend my time with my grandchildren and in the country. When we had to leave our hometown on the evacuation train, the trip was comfortable but we felt upset because we didn't know whether we would return home again. I am afraid that I may lose my home and I feel bad because I'm separated from my family. My mother and I currently live in a collective centre for displaced persons that used to be a school. We were on the train to Chernivtsi, and we were helped to find this place by volunteers who met us at the train station. We are very pleased with how we were received. Nevertheless, we miss home very much and hope in the coming months to go back there. The most important thing for me now is that I am separated from my relatives, as well as that I lost my job and my income.
I worked as a lab technician at a company, and in my spare time I liked to spend my time with my grandchildren and in the country.
Employees from Concern’s partner ACTED came to our centre and asked us to participate in the financial assistance program. We filled out a questionnaire and gave the necessary documents for registration. In two weeks, we were able to receive money and the cash assistance from Concern and the DEC has helped us overcome the difficulties with which we faced due to forced relocation, including lack of funds in order to meet our basic needs. The project distributed $75 monthly per person during three months as the first cycle of distribution and my mother and I were able to buy the necessary medicines and basic things for comfortable living like a blanket and hygiene products. The belief that there are still people and organisations that are not indifferent and that are supporting individuals who suffered as a result of the military conflict is such a comfort. Thank you to all ACTED employees for such timely and significant support!”
Alexandra, whose name has been changed for protection, had to flee Kharkiv and was also supported through Concern, ACTED and DEC’s cash assistance project. Here, she tells us in her experience in her own words.
"My name is Alexandra, I am 39 years old, and my family and I have left Kharkiv. I have a husband and four children and before the beginning of hostilities, I worked in kindergarten as a teacher and have a higher pedagogical education. My family is large and therefore we spend a significant part of our budget on food. My husband worked in a supermarket and my children attended kindergarten and school. Now Kharkiv is under constant rocket attacks. When Ukrainians flee their homes they can try to find refuge at relatives or in collective centres who host anyone fleeing the conflict - each person or family’s journey is different and people can stay from two days to two months.
“Before the fighting began, Kharkiv was a flourishing industrial city of nearly 2 million people. But now it is dangerous there, explosions are constantly heard and people are dying, most of the city is mined. We recently bought our own house in Kharkiv and lived in the Saltovka area, a place which has suffered the most as a result of hostilities. We loved our area and the city, where we had access to everything we needed. On weekends, the whole family spent time in the centre - walking in parks or in a zoo. Fortunately, our whole family is together and no one was physically injured as a result of the fighting.
I worry about the psychological state of children who are afraid to sleep at night, because they still hear the sounds of shelling.
“I worked in kindergarten as a teacher. Also, in my spare time, I loved baking confectionery for family members and friends, as well as spending time with relatives. We were forced to leave Kharkiv on the first morning of the hostilities. We left in my car and drove for four days. We spent the night in collective centres for internally displaced persons and sometimes I had to sleep on the floor in poorly heated rooms. Now we live in a private house, which was provided to us by local residents of the village of Lukovytsia, in the Chernivtsi region. We drove out in our car and now we are renovating the house for comfortable living and planting a garden for our own needs. I worry about the psychological state of children who are afraid to sleep at night, because they still hear the sounds of shelling."
“ACTED was the first organisation from which we were able to receive assistance. ACTED's activities with Concern and the DEC are aimed at supporting people affected by the conflict. We have been able to meet our basic needs and also hold a small family celebration for the birthday of one of our children. This helped everyone feel better and we had a sense of security.
"With the money we received we bought groceries and hygiene products. I still have hope now, I believe there are more good people in the world. And I felt it from my own experience. I would like to express my deep gratitude to ACTED employees for their attentive attitude and quick assistance!"
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