Hope, tears, and love: what and how lives the only shelter for internally displaced persons in Chernivtsi

Since March of this year, a shelter for Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes due to russian military aggression has been operating in the city of Chernivtsi. It was founded by the "Public Rescue Committee of Ukraine" Charitable Foundation, and is funded by its benefactors, in particular, by the “Techia Foundation” NGO.

Hope, tears, and love:  what and how lives the only shelter for internally displaced persons in Chernivtsi

127 people are staying in the shelter today, and 30 of them are children. However, there are a lot more people who need to get a refuge. Every day, 5-6 people come to the shelter. Those are the people who cannot return to their homes because the houses are occupied or destroyed by enemy fire. In total, the shelter has become a home for more than 5,000 people since the beginning of the war.

"Previously, people learned about us through social networks, via the "Prykhystok" website, from word of mouth, and now - it’s mostly the city government that directs them to the shelter, as our shelter is the only one remaining in the city. We provide the residents with everything... from a roof over their heads to the smallest everyday items," says Anton Aleksa, director of the Charitable Foundation “Public Rescue Committee of Ukraine”.

The shelter also facilitates the adaptation of internally displaced persons in Chernivtsi. A part of the adult residents here have been helped with employment, and 17 children go to a local school. Vadym tells about the shelter's everyday life; he came here from his native Kharkiv region. His city is now liberated, but it is too early to return home, because the city is still under constant shelling. In March, he was rescuing his family and accidentally found out about the shelter. Now everyone calls Vadym a superintendent. He maintains order and makes sure that no one lacks anything.

“A series can be filmed about the life of our shelter. You don't even need to stage anything. Just put up the cameras and enjoy the scenario of life. So many things have happened here, - admits Vadim. - Fights, quarrels, affections, and, definitely, love. Of course there’s love! One couple is even expecting a baby already.”

From 10 to 30 people are living in one shelter room. Pets are staying together with the families. The pets have their own "humanitarian line". They, too, are provided with everything they need. Such a large number of people in one room together with children and pets creates inconvenience, so Anton, the director of the shelter, is currently busy with renovating and re-planning the "dormitory". He plans to rebuild the common rooms into quadriples, so that each family has its own separate housing.

Another prospect is organizing comfortable places for children to study. This issue is coordinated by Dmytro Kozma, other founder of the Charitable Foundation “Public Rescue Committee of Ukraine”. "Currently, my primary task is to organize online education for our 30 children. We want to equip one of the factory's rooms for a classroom - to put up desks, and buy a laptop for everyone," says Dmytro.

Families eat separately in the shelter, and do the cleaning in turns. Residents are provided with all the necessary food products for free as well.

"We mostly have people who have nowhere to go. All of them came from the active combat zone or from the occupied areas. Most of them have nowhere to return, so we want to create comfortable living conditions," says Anton Aleksa. People arrive at the shelter in a difficult moral state. Therefore, another area of focus is free psychological aid. "There’s a woman with a child living here... She lost her husband upon running from the occupation. He was simply killed by the russians. We have a lady with her granddaughter here as well. The girl's parents were also killed, and the family has nowhere to go back to. All of them are undergoing psychological recovery," says Dmytro Kozma.

Now the shelter is actively preparing for winter. Issues of heating and expanding the capabilities of the shelter are being considered. After all, at the factory, which was converted into a shelter for internally displaced persons, there is still enough space that can be used to make rooms for Ukrainians who need a roof over their heads. The only question is money. Those who want to help the shelter can do so on the foundation’s webpage. https://secure.wayforpay.com/donate/poryatunokuah In June 2022, “Techia Foundation” transferred UAH 1.56 million for the needs of the shelter. These funds were enough to allow the shelter to operate for three months.

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