“The electricity and water were off because of the shelling. Then a missile hit, ten metres from our home. We decided to leave because it was too dangerous to stay.”
When Anna and her family’s safety was threatened, they made the heart-wrenching decision to flee their hometown of Lysychans’k in Ukraine. But not before queuing in line at the pharmacy for crucial medication.
“It was a problem for us because my son has epilepsy,” Anna says. “We came to the pharmacy and there was a huge line. It was really tough for us.”
After securing epilepsy medication for her eleven-year-old son Symon*, Anna’s family prepared their bags and joined the long line of cars fleeing the warzone.
Safely in another part of Ukraine, Anna and her family are among the almost 7 million internally displaced people (IDPs). They have nothing left of their previous life, except for the few bags they packed. Thankfully, Anna was able to secure the first available rental in their new city, Dnipro, and has been seeking support for her family ever since.
“We started looking for support systems, especially food and psychological support,” Anna says. “When you spend your life in good conditions and are now applying for humanitarian assistance, it’s quite traumatic.”
Adjusting to their new reality has taken a toll on their mental health. Before the war in Lysychans’k, Anna’s husband was running his own business. But now in Dnipro, he has only been able to secure unqualified work and has struggled to provide for his family. It was at this point that Anna was introduced to ADRA.
Through ADRA, Anna and her family have been receiving food and counselling support as well as cash grants to access essentials like furniture.
“The food support was quite attractive to us because it’s not only pasta and bread, but it also included different kinds of necessary meals for children,” says Anna.
While the food support and cash grants are meeting their physical needs, it is the tailored counselling support that is helping Anna and her family manage the emotional trauma caused by the war. For Anna and her husband, they are receiving support to integrate into a large city and to process how their life changed due to the war. For Symon, he is receiving help with his education and mental health so he doesn’t fall further behind his peers.
“Symon also has a linguistic disability,” Anna says. “ADRA has different kinds of table games and developmental games. It is variable and practical to receive that support for Symon.”
The move has taken its toll on Symon, who just wants life to return to normal.
“We originally planned to go back home within one month,” Anna says. “Symon has started asking a lot of questions about home. He misses his friends and every day asks about it. ‘When will we return back home? I want to be with my friends,’ he says. And every day I have to try to explain to him that now is not the time.”
Processing the pain that the war has caused will take time. But thanks to the support of ADRA, Anna has hope that things will improve.
“We believe the future will be better.”
Your gift this February can help us be Always Ready and Always There to help provide shelter, food, basic necessities, and counselling to people in need in times of disaster. Donate today at www.adra.org.nz/respond