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Journeys Towards Rebuilding

Supporting Displaced People in Ukraine

Two years into the Ukraine war, approximately four million people remain displaced. After witnessing violence, losing their homes or loved ones, and uprooting their lives, many have been living in temporary shelters or collective centers in a new city without consistent work, school, and other necessities. Helping families regain autonomy and restore their sense of community within their “new normal” is a priority for CORE. 

 

With generous funding from the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF), we provide vital rental assistance to hundreds of displaced families in Lviv, including children, the elderly, and people with special needs. Support includes placement in private units and six months of cash rental assistance. CORE’s rental assistance program has allowed these families to pursue long-term work opportunities, which will help them cover ongoing rental costs as they begin to rebuild. 

 

As the war enters its third year, however, without continued funding, families unable to find jobs may lose their apartments. It’s critical that those displaced can continue living in safe homes where children can find stability and enroll in the local school system and adults can find a sense of hope for the future. CORE needs ongoing support from individual and institutional donors to continue this vital program in Ukraine. 

  

Halyna's Story

Halyna, a sweet grandmother and music teacher, lived in the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine with her daughter’s family, including her young granddaughter. At the onset of the war, frantic neighbors woke them up one day as shelling started. They ran for safety in the bitter cold, finding shelter at a local school before being forced to escape their hometown by the fighting. The family witnessed extreme violence, were left traumatized, and even experienced temporary deafness from the bombings.  

 

Halyna’s family eventually left Ukraine for Poland, where they continued waiting out the war. But Halyna stayed behind—like many elders, she couldn’t leave the country due to economic and health issues. Instead, she boarded a train to Lviv, where she didn’t know anyone, to find a respite from the ongoing bombardment.  

 

There, she met like-minded, retired people in a collective center who were kind. But living there was incredibly uncomfortable and unsettling. It was very loud, and at times, she had to sleep on the floor or in the company of those who were unwell. With the war waging on for two years, this situation became untenable for Halyna. 

 

Eventually, she made contact with CORE, which, in partnership with the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF), was able to place her in a comfortable and private one-bedroom apartment. 

 

Halyna generously invited CORE’s team over for tea as a token of appreciation. As a trained music teacher, Halyna had spent her life sharing her love for the bandura, a traditional instrument she grew up playing. With support from CORE Ukraine’s staffer, Iryna, Halyna found local children to give music lessons to make some money. While waiting for the day she can reunite with her family, she spends time sharing her love of music and spreading joy. As we sipped tea, Halyna treated us to a few beautiful songs she used to play for her granddaughter and shared heartfelt memories of home. 

 

Halyna said, “I am so grateful to Iryna and to CORE for bringing me this apartment. For helping me.” 

Building A New Life In Lviv

A Ukrainian family smiles for a photo inside their new apartment.

Rinat, Vira, and their two young sons, Rinat Jr. and Timor, lived a happy life in Mariupol. They loved riding bikes together and spending time with their friends. Rinat worked as a priest and enjoyed serving his neighbors and community. 

 

At the beginning of the war, the Russian bombardment devastated Mariupol. During the attack, the family fled and hid for 19 days with neighbors in a church basement. Rinat Jr. and Timor were frightened of the loud bombs, but their parents kept them calm and tried their best to distract them. The family received regular updates from those still in Mariupol. They learned that a majority of their neighborhood was destroyed, and many had perished due to the fighting.

 

Realizing there was little to return to, the family set out for Lviv with the few belongings they had with them. The boys asked when they could have their toys and see their friends again. But Rinat and Vira explained that the family needed to start over in a safer place. 

 

Upon reaching Lviv, Rinat and Vira turned to others for help. This was a new reality for Rinat, who was used to helping others. CORE and UHF found a safe and comfortable apartment for Rinat’s family and 41 other families from Mariupol in Lviv.  

 

Two years into the ongoing war, Rinat’s family is doing much better. The boys are enrolled in school, participating in sports and other youth activities, and spending time with new friends. Rinat works as a priest and can support his family and others in the community once again. He shared, “We are very grateful to you. It was a very dire situation. We didn’t know what to do to make ends meet.”

Victoria’s Story

The Draka family poses for a photo inside of their new apartment after fleeing from front-line fighting.

Victoria, her 11-year-old son Kirill (Kyzylo), and her mother Ann fled from the frontline town of Kherson to a collective center in Lviv, 600 miles from home. In her first week there, Victoria cried daily, missing her house, her yard, and the beautiful river that flowed nearby.

 

Despite all the family had been through and the uncomfortable conditions at the collective center, Victoria found herself grateful. She felt a sense of community there, especially after having to leave all that she knew and loved back home. 

 

However, as time passed and days became months, Victoria knew that the collective center couldn’t continue to be their new home base. Kirill couldn’t keep up with school because he didn’t have a quiet space to study. And sadly, Ann was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and needed more comfortable surroundings. 

 

Through CORE and UHF’s rental assistance program, Victoria and her family found an apartment and received six months of cash assistance to help with rent and utilities. With this support, Victoria could concentrate on work opportunities. She began working as a manicurist and started an online crafts business selling homemade art pieces like clocks and maps of Ukraine.  

 

Kirill is doing much better, focusing on his studies and excelling in music and sports. He said he likes “everything!” about his new apartment and is making friends at his new school. Although Ann is still battling cancer and Victoria is sad she still can’t go home, she shared, “Life goes on. I’m happy I have a job. I have new clients. I’m learning new things.”