Norwegian Refugee Council helped families from the front-line Luhansk region within the framework of the “Pope for Ukraine” Action

Almost every 24 hours within the front-line villages and towns are accompanied by cannonade of the heavy artillery, however local citizens have already got used to it during four years of military activities. The front-line has separated small populated areas from big ones, therefore they have also become separated from any access to social, medical and educational infrastructure as well as from any possibility of job, studying and development for the children. A challenging safety situation makes lives of people in the near-front area even more complicated – humanitarian aid still remains urgent. 

A family of Tetiana Zubovych moved to the near-front village Toshkivka from occupied Pervomaisk. Together with the husband they are bringing three children up: two-years old Vika, ten-years old Alina and fifteen-years old Sasha. It is hard to survive with the only father’s salary, working in a mine. Right now they are all living in an old house that is in a strong need of renovation.

“I wasn’t hoping for help any more, since from November last year we hadn’t received anything. Our family needs a lot of warm clothes, children are growing fast. The Action helped us with the money to buy enough clothes for our children: coats, shoes, other warm clothes. Sashko is already wearing new jeans, training shoes and sweater to school” – shares Tetiana with us.

Thousands of such families managed to buy for their children warm clothes and fuel for the homes, after having received financial aid for 5 600 UAH. This aid was provided within the framework of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) project with support from the “Pope for Ukraine” Action in Stanychno-Luhansk, Popasniansk and Novoaidarsk areas of Luhansk region.

A young single mother Snizhana from Nyzhne is also glad to receive aid: “ To receive the aid was very simple: I received am sms in the end of March that money transfer was expecting me at the post office. Having received money, I bought three coats, two pairs of shoes, boots, two warm sets of clothes, dresses and other things for my three-years old daughter Oryna. Its enough for now and will go next years too, I bought it for her to grow into”.

Another citizen Tetian Kuzhelna from Komyshuvakha is raising two daoughters on her own: nine-years old Hanna and little Viktoriia, who is only nine months old. Tetiana has no job, she is living at the expense of children’s maintenance allowance. “In order to buy wood fuel in winter, I have to make stuff up: I save money from the children’s allowance. Sometimes I borrow money. For the received aid I bought warm clothes for children, because my girls are growing, and they need clothes, which costs so much nowadays. We also bought few warm blankets”, – she says.

In the family of Oksana Korniushyna from Zolote, there are three children growing up. They have only a father working, his salary is often delayed and the big family has to save on everything. “We used to receive free coal from the mine where my husband works. But this year we got declined. Coal is very expensive today. We have three children to raise, that is why all the received money we have decided to spend on coal and we have bought three tons. This amount will be enough for two years”, – tells us Oksana.

61-years old Nataliia Holub from Zolote is living alone. “This winter I had to use the remains of wood en fuel, I took coal from my neighbors who left. It was very hard, I cannot afford to buy fuel for the pension that I receive. For the season I need about two cars of wooden fuel, that is over 6 thousand UAH. That is why in the first place I bought firewoods, and then warm blankets, winter coat and warm sheets”, – she shared with us.

NRC has been cooperating with the “Pope for Ukraine” Action for two years already, by undertaking humanitarian projects aimed at helping citizens of Luhansk area who were harmed by war activities. In the focus are first of all internally relocated persons, families with many children and low-income families, people with special needs and aged.

Last year over 300 families from Stanychno-Luhansk, Novoaidarsk and Popasniansk regions received aid for renovating houses and apartments, broken during the military conflict. This year 300 more families from the near-front Komyshne, Kolesnykivka and Yuhanivka from Stanychne-Luhansk regions received construction materials for renovation and winter-preparations of their homes. In the family of Anastasiya Balaha from Komyshne village there are four children. They are all living together in a small house. They survive due to cattle and vegetable garden. They are also receiving social allowances but it’s not enough for a big family.

According to Anastasiya, firewoods to warm the house up is very expensive. To buy it for the whole cold period would cost about seven thousand UAH. “We were able to save money for that before the war, right now we cannot. Every time we decide to buy something – it gets more expensive”, – sights she.

It is almost impossible to find a job in Komyshne. Because of the military activities and bad economic situation most of the young people left villages. Anastasiya and her husband are jobless but they were lucky to stay in their own home.  “When the war started, we left for another village but soon we came back – because no one would help us there. During the shooting we were hiding in the basement, it was very scary. My youngest son Yehor is still afraid of thunderstorms, he takes every sound for shooting’”, – says Anastasiya.

This autumn the family decided to expand square meters and build up kitchen. They spent all their savings on that and had nothing for winter preparations. It was cold in their house and because of the shooting the house cracked.

Balah’s family applied to NRC and soon they received mineral wool, vapor barrier, foam insulation, tape for windows. “My husband warmed the roof in two days and we had only windows left. It got much warmer and we needed less woodfires for heating”, – shared Anastasiya with us.

Besides, 14 social establishments (psychoneurological health centers, senior centers and centers for people with special needs, social rehabilitation centers for children with special needs, territorial social services centers) in Myrna Dolyna, Vovcheyarivka, Komyshuvasi, Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Kreminna, Bilokurakyne, Popasna, Dmytrivka, Teple, Novoastrakhan and Starobilsk received heating devices, in particular electronic oil heaters and blankets.

There are also 14 pre-school and school estabishments in Verkhniobohdanivka, Vilkhova, Peredilske, Herasymivka, Krasnotalivka, Talivka and Plotyna villages which received coal, fire wood, radiators, carpets, to make it warm and comfortable for children to study. In average, every establishment received 16m3 of fire woods and/or 20-50 tons of coal.

In general, from 2018 on, NRC with supporting from the “Pope for Ukraine” Action, helped 13772 people from different regions of Luhansk. The total amount of aid makes 700 000 Euros.