It’s been only two weeks since a house in a village near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv became home for Vitaliy and Valentina. The couple fled the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and their apartment in Donetsk soon after separatists took control of the city.
“This war was artificially created, and it’s clear which way the wind blows – from Russia,” said Vitaliy Svyatoshenko. “When separatists hung their flag instead of the Ukrainian one, we knew that it would be difficult to stay and moved: first, to Kramatorsk, and now to the Kyiv region.”
The family receives social payments for internally displaces persons (IDPs) from the Ukrainian government. They say it’s not enough. This month, the couple found a vacancy at a call-centre. “Donbas SOS” is an Ukrainian NGO helping IDPs to solve all issues related to living in and moving from the war zone.
“This work will give us a bit more money, as well as helping other people like us,” said Valentina Svyatoshenko. “We’ll tell them how to apply for IDP social payments, cross checkpoints and to get humanitarian supplies.”
According to Ukraine’s ministry of social policy, the number of IDPs in the country has passed one and a half million.
Oleg Maslov moved to Kyiv from Donetsk but did not apply for governmental aid. He won a contest for IDPs organised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Now international experts teach him how to raise funding for his business – manufacturing of delivery electric bikes.
“I decided to participate in the programme of crowdfunding in order to get support from socially active people, but not go and ask for some governmental aid,” Oleg told Euronews.
For the last two years UNDP has trained about 3,000 internally displaced persons in setting up their own businesses, providing grants to many.
IDPs now run shoe repair shops, bakeries and car wash sites.
According to UNDP, it’s not important to give displaced civilians money, but to provide the know-how to earn it.
“People from Donbas have been very well received in Ukraine,” said UNDP country director Jan Thomas Hiemstra. “And we believe that by setting this example we can really show that IDPs are not people who need to hold up their hand to have money from UNDP, no, they can be helped by Ukrainians.”
To support those young people who moved from the east, a German theatre director and Ukrainian playwrights set up the ‘Theatre of Displaced People’ in Kyiv.
Those who take part say that acting out their war experiences help heal their emotional wounds.
At first, Katerina from Horlovka visited the theatre as a spectator, but then joined the team. These performances are kind of like psychological therapy, she says.
“I’m getting better, really,” said Katerina. “Now it’s easier for me to talk about events that happen there (in the east), about my grandparents living there.”
The ‘Theatre of Displaced People’ has already toured in Germany and many Ukrainian cities, helping audiences understand how it feels to live in times of conflict. The actors hope that one day they can play in their hometowns, during times of peace.