Rebuilding lives in Eastern UkrainePublished: Feb 23, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
Liubov is 70, and she lives in a town less than five kilometres from the contact line in Luhansk oblast, in eastern Ukraine. Liubov was diagnosed with Down syndrome when she was a child and is barely able to speak. Her sister, Larisa, lives with her, and has been taking care of Liubov since her own husband passed away many years ago.
Larisa is retired, but because she lives in a non-government-controlled area of Ukraine (NGCA), she has been unable to collect all of the documents needed to apply for her pension. Instead, she receives only social benefits, which are not sufficient to cover she and her sister’s basic needs.
“I always visited my sister and supported her, and when my husband passed away, I couldn’t stay far from her,” says Larisa. “I decided to go and live with her.”
Due to the ongoing armed conflict, the water supply to the settlement was interrupted in 2014 and the sisters relied on the well in their yard. Unfortunately, it is very old and no longer holds enough water to meet their needs. Since 2017, the sisters’ neighbours have been providing access to their wells, allowing them to collect water to keep in tanks in their home.
Access to their own water source
To support the sisters, People in Need (PIN), with funding from the Ukrainian Humanitarian Fund (UHF), managed by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, provided a pumping station with a 300-litre water tank, boiler, electric heater, bed linens, and materials to repair the house. The sisters appreciate the assistance and are happy that they have access to their own water. It is a great relief that they no longer need to go to their neighbour’s borehole to collect water in buckets.
“We have not fled our home since the conflict started,” says Larisa, adding that they “stayed in the basement during the shelling.”
House repairs and vouchers
Liubov and Larisa’s home is in very poor condition. The windows are broken, the roof is leaking, and the walls inside are cracked. The house has steam heating, but the pipes are clogged, making it very difficult to heat the house. The sisters spend the winters in their summer house, which is much smaller and easier to heat.
To further assist the sisters, PIN, with financial support from the European Union, undertook a series of repairs to the main house, including the installation of handrails at the entrance so that Liubov could more easily access her home. In addition, the family received hygiene and food vouchers. Though Larisa grows fruits and vegetables and keeps a cow and chickens, the food vouchers were very helpful.
“I want to work quietly on my piece of land; I like to spend time working on it, growing vegetables and fruits with my own hands, and preparing canned fruits and vegetables for the winter period. But it is good that we were able to buy a greater variety of food and hygiene items using the vouchers,” says Larisa.
“My biggest wish is for peace. We are so tired of the shelling and the conflict,” she adds.