Welcome to our series "Portraits" that pays a tribute to the impactful and often visionary work of the organisations we support.
Our "Portraits" tell the true stories of the beneficiaries our partners stand for. By presenting their lives, aspirations and challenges, we want to raise their voices so they can become an example and inspiration for social change.
Portraits of women and girls fleeing the war in Ukraine
Olha Sydorenko weaves a doll as a symbol of good luck for her family © UNICEF_UN0624501_Butko
UNICEF, Poltava, Ukraine
Olha is busy sewing a doll as a symbol of good luck for her family back in Kharkiv, Ukraine. This craft class is the first time she has felt ready to socialise since fleeing her home for the city of Poltava a week ago.
“I came here with my son,” says Olha. “We live at our friends’ place. My husband stayed in Kharkiv to take care of his old mother. He called today and said that a shell hit a neighbouring house, killing 12 people. The territory there is occupied – we can't call them or bring medicine.”
The class is part of a series of events taking place at safe spaces created by UNICEF as part of the “Spilno” (together in Ukrainian) Project in Poltava, where families who have fled the fighting in Ukraine can receive humanitarian assistance, socio-emotional support, and individual and group counselling.
The teacher helps Amalia create her handmade doll. © UNICEF_UN0624503_Butko
Nine-year-old Amalia is also sewing a doll in today’s craft class. She fled the shelling in Kharkiv with her parents.
“My father was in Kyiv that day,” says Amalia. “My mother and I woke up to the explosions, as they started firing at 5 a.m. We took the bypass roads we knew to get away in several cars. My granny and many friends live here, but I miss my dog and my home very much.”
The project in Poltava takes place at the Regional Youth Centre, and an aid point is located a library nearby.
“We started our activities in Kharkiv at metro stations,” says UNICEF Youth and Adolescent Development Officer Lilia Liubomudrova. “They created meeting points where children take part in various master classes, art therapy sessions and receive humanitarian aid. Then came the idea to make such points in other cities – safe cities where Kharkiv residents move and where they can get the same support. Today our project is already operating in six cities of Ukraine.”
“Life goes on – this is the motto of today’s event,” adds Svitlana Hromtseva, Director of the Regional Youth Centre. “The Poltava region has become a refuge for more than 30,000 people who were forced to leave their homes due to the war. They need support and care. We invite not only displaced people, but also Poltava residents with children. The centre undertook the organizational role, while UNICEF provides financial support to conduct events and equip children’s play areas.”
Veronica and her six-year-old daughter Eva make a doll. © UNICEF_UN0624498_Butko
Veronika from Poltava and her six-year-old daughter Eva have found psychological support and new friends thanks to the project.
“We lack positive emotions at home,” says Veronika. “You keep your phone in hand all the time, browsing the news websites. Due to constant stress, it is not possible to take proper care of my child, and here we managed to have some fun. The master class is very interesting.”
The Trafigura Foundation is supporting UNICEF’s “Spilno” programme that provides families on the move with access to safe spaces as well as vital services, including protection and cash assistance. Since March 2022, UNICEF has distributed US$125 million and reached 350,000 children, including 35,000 with disabilities, living in 120,000 households.
Watch the video below to learn more about Spilno Centre’s activities and support:
SPILNO Support Centre Ukraine
SPILNO Support Centre Ukraine27 September 2022