Age Trampled by WarPublished: Oct 2, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
Close to a quarter of Ukraine's population comprises older people. Unfortunately, the war has destroyed their hopes for a peaceful retirement. The continuous shelling has made it difficult for pensioners on both sides of the front to escape to safe areas and receive their retirement payments. Many struggle with limited access to medical care, medication, and transportation. Chronic illnesses, damaged housing, and loneliness make their dire situation worse.
To support elderly Ukrainians during these difficult times, we are implementing several vital projects. We assist pensioners in restoring their homes, provide essential needs like money, water, and hygiene, and offer psychological support. Today, we share four touching stories of how our colleagues ensure that older Ukrainians are not facing their plight alone.
A new home for displaced people
Before arriving at Novyy Rozdil in Lviv Oblast, the people in the collective centre came from Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kherson; they were strangers to each other. However, they have now lived under the same roof for a year and a half.
Tetiana Zamula, her two grandchildren, and her pregnant daughter-in-law arrived from Kharkiv at the end of March 2022. Initially, she was taken aback by the old and worn-out living conditions. However, the situation has improved thanks to the collaboration between the centre's management, local authorities, and humanitarian organisations. Thanks to funding from Cisco, we have renovated the communal centre's kitchen and washrooms. We have upgraded it with modern furniture and equipment. Comfort is crucial for the residents; most are elderly, and fourteen have disabilities.
Rebuilding liberated villages
Even after the liberation, Oskilska in Kharkiv Oblast remains devastated. Many villages have been destroyed by shelling, and the land is now mined, making it difficult for people to live there.
"Before the war, we had a population of 640 people, and today, 137 have returned", said Nina Zahrebelna, Mayor of Virnopillia.
The villages are slowly recovering. Gas supply, communication, and transportation have been restored. Before winter, replacing windows and repairing damaged house roofs is crucial. Therefore, we, along with our partner "Peaceful Sky" and with the support of the Ukrainian Humanitarian Fund, are supporting villagers with home renovations.
"If we can help, then we definitely do. Our priority has always been pensioners, people with disabilities, and single mothers," says Olena Kolomiyets, Project Manager at "Peaceful Sky".
Rapid aid for Alla Fedorivna
Alla Fedorivna is an 86-year-old resident of Chernihiv who lives alone. She has a son, but he is also a pensioner. Unfortunately, during a recent attack on the city in August, the windows in her flat were blown out. The damage to her home left her feeling hopeless, knowing it would take a lot of money to fix. Thankfully, someone at the city council provided Alla Fedorivna with our contact information. She immediately called our team and was pleasantly surprised by our prompt response. We sent a representative to her flat the same day. Thanks to funds from the European Union earmarked for emergency home repairs, Alla and other residents in Chernihiv will receive money to repair their homes.
A home for Nadiia
Nadiia Hryhorivna from Velykodymerska in Kyiv Oblast buried her husband before the war. After the death of her husband, she lived alone. However, in March 2022, her house became home to nine people: children, grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.
Early one morning, a powerful explosion in the yard shook the house. Tears fill her eyes whenever Nadiia recalls the traumatic experience: "There was such a strong jolt. Glass was flying everywhere, bouncing around. Fortunately, it didn't hit me. Maybe the blanket saved me. Nevertheless, the children were screaming terribly. They screamed so much that my grandson Misha started to stutter". There is a hole directly above the bed in the room. Miraculously, a fragment that pierced the wall missed everyone in the family. The shockwave and fragments severely damaged the house, shattering the roof and windows.
Nadiia didn't know where to start. However, she was put in contact with us, and we began work in her yard. The roof was replaced, and broken windows and entrance doors were also. With money from the European Union, we helped 282 families from Velykodymerska: some with repairs, some with building materials. Not everyone had the savings to carry out such extensive work immediately. In particular, older members of the community found themselves in a difficult situation.
Lending an ear
Some older members of the community are facing war for the second time. Constant anxiety, fear, and despair negatively affect their well-being. That's why we provide material support to pensioners and take care of their mental health. Our team of professional psychologists is available 24/7 to take anonymous calls from individuals traumatised by the war. Through our toll-free hotline, 0 800 210 160, our operators listen to numerous heart-wrenching stories daily. Our operators emphasise that the first step in aiding the community's older members is often simply lending them an ear and giving them someone to talk to.