Solution 15:31 27 Jul 2023

New life in abandoned houses and transformation of common space: a community in Vinnytsia built shelters for displaced people

Due to the war started by Russia, Ukrainians continue to lose their homes. Fortunately, new ones are also found. This does not happen thanks to a lucky chance but thanks to the hard work of the host communities. The village council secretary Svitlana Voichenko told Rubryka about how the Dashivska community of the Haisyn district of Vinnytsia region copes with new challenges.

What is the problem?

During the war, Ukrainian communities have faced a number of challenges. Today, the communities have to fulfill their usual duties and deal with the problems brought on by the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation. At the local level, solving migration, energy, logistics, and security problems is necessary. One of the most critical questions facing many territorial communities today is how to not only stay afloat with a limited budget but also make the lives of residents and displaced people better in wartime conditions.

What is the solution?

The unification of twelve village councils formed the Dashivska community in the Vinnytsia region. Before the war, about 14,500 inhabitants lived here, but over the last year, the community's population has increased.

The Dashivska community began to accept people fleeing Russia's aggression from the first days of the war. During this period, the community took in almost 3,000 internally displaced persons. As Svitlana Voichenko, the secretary of the settlement community, said, at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, people came from all areas where hostilities were taking place. More than five hundred IDPs live in the community even now. These are resettlers from the Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Most of the IDPs went to the Dashivska community to visit their relatives, acquaintances, and friends, but there were also many who simply came to Vinnytsia and sought shelter.

Дашівська громада для переселенців

Displaced people in the Dashivska community receive humanitarian aid

Here, people immediately received humanitarian aid. These were the most necessary things: clothes, hygiene products, groceries, baby food, diapers, medicine, etc.

In addition, the community accepted 35 IDPs with reduced mobility. People were placed in the hospital of Dashivska township and the Center for the Provision of social services. Voichenko says that this category of displaced persons is fully provided with everything necessary. They are constantly cared for and provided with all medical services.

Those IDPs who initially stayed with friends were helped by local authorities to find permanent housing. For this, in particular, owners of abandoned houses were sought so that they would allow families who lost their homes to settle there.

"We have very empathetic people in the community's territory who empathized and sympathized with the grief and horrors experienced by the settlers," says Voichenko, "Our residents shared everything they could."

"The Dashivska community welcomed us as family"

Дашівська громада для переселенців

Dashivska community made everything possible to make Malyutina's family find a home n a new place.

Inna Malyutina is a resettler from Volnovakha, the Donetsk region. Like millions of other Ukrainians, she, her parents, and two daughters were forced to flee the war. The evacuation train took them to Lviv but unexpectedly stopped in Vinnytsia. Malyutina says that after losing her home in the east, she found it in the heart of Ukraine.

"The Dashivska community welcomed us as family. I was very impressed by how everyone tried to help us at every step because we had nothing. I would like to mention all the good people, but there are so many of them — I'm just afraid to miss someone and thereby offend. Hence, I bow to everyone who cares about someone else's misfortune," says Malyutina.

For the first month in Dashiv, the family stayed with distant relatives. Then an abandoned house was found for them in the community where no one had lived for ten years. Malyutina is grateful to those who helped to find a home and put it in order. Caring people cleaned up the yard, built a stove, floor, and water supply, and put in doors and windows. Neighbors gave potatoes, jam, toys, bedding, and much more.

"Now we can talk about it, but a year ago, we just cried all the time," admits Malyutina. "The Russians began bombing Volnovakha on March 4. We hid in basements, drank water from batteries, and cooked on the fire. Glass and pieces of walls were flying everywhere. The children were so frightened that they could not sleep properly for a long time, even in safety."

Malyutina's older daughter, ten-year-old Nastya, has already adapted to her new place, but her younger daughter, three-year-old Katya, still needs psychological help. In Dashiv, the girl started attending the rehabilitation center from the first days, working with a psychologist and a speech therapist.

Дашівська громада для переселенців

The last schoolday at the Dashiv Lyceum. Inna Malyutina is in the center of the photo.

Despite all the difficulties, Malyutina has no regrets and calls life in Vinnytsia a bonus for all they experienced in Volnovakha. In Dashiv, Malyutina, a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature by trade, also found a job. With native residents of Dashiv, she weaves camouflage nets for Ukrainian soldiers, participates in promotions and fairs, and collects parcels for defenders on the front lines.

"I want to stay here," says Malyutina, who at one time had to live in the so-called DPR, escape from there, and survive the Russian bombings, "I don't think I lived before that. It's as if everything started with a clean slate. I don't feel like a stranger here. Dashiv has become my second home."

"This is already our home, and I believe that everything will work out for us in time"

Ірина Глебська

Iryna Hlebska also found a new home in Dashiv and plans to stay there permanently

Iryna Hlebska from Pokrovsk also does not want to return to the Donetsk region. Hlebska's husband has been at the frontline since the war's first days, and he insisted that Hlebska evacuate.

She had nowhere to go with her retired mother. They learned about the Dashiv through acquaintances and hoped to stay for a couple of months, but it turned out that they stayed there for a long time.

Hlebska is a paramedic by trade. She says while sitting without a job, she almost lost her mind, so one day, she got on the bus and went to look for a job. After getting a job as a nurse in nearby Illinka, she began looking for permanent housing in Dashiv.

"I don't sit still, and I move all the time. Now is such a time that you have to fight for your place under the sun," says Hlebska. She found a house for sale online, agreed to move there immediately, and bought it eight months later. "This is an old house made of clay, and a lot needs to be done, but this is already our home, and I believe everything will work out for us in time. I like everything in Dashiv. I am even surprised because I have always lived in the city. My husband is a fisherman, so I think he will like it here too."

Дашівська громада для переселенців

The garden near the house of Iryna Hlebska in Dashiv is flourishing thanks to the owner's working hands

Hlebska and her mother planted 15 hectares of the vegetable garden and are proud of the bountiful harvests: "There are such harvests here that we never dreamed of in our arid Donetsk steppes. Mom is happy that she has big potatoes growing, and I'm already harvesting my third crop of asparagus beans. I have already treated all my neighbors and work colleagues to it because it is not grown here." In general, the family exchanges a lot with the locals — for example, the same recipes for borscht, which are entirely different in east and central Ukraine.

How does the Dashivska community live during the war

According to resettlers, Dashiv has everything necessary for life — good infrastructure, school, kindergarten, banks, medicine, including a dentist's office, but it is difficult with employment.

The village council secretary, Voichenko, agrees: "Of course, employment for internally displaced persons in our community is quite problematic. After all, our community is more agricultural, and there are few manufacturing enterprises on the territory. However, we are constantly working to attract new businesses to our community, create new jobs, and thus create comfortable conditions. We really want young people not to leave but to stay in their native villages."

These words are not just intentions. During the difficult times of the war and the budget deficit, the Dashivska community found an opportunity to provide a centralized water supply to the village of Dashiv (105 subscribers connected), to the villages of Kopiivka and Shabelnya. Just now, the construction of a water supply in the village of Leukhy is being completed and is beginning in the village of Kantelyna. Street lighting is also being carried out in the settlements of the community, and shelters are being set up in educational institutions. Annually, on two or three communally owned streets, major road repairs are carried out.

Дашівська громада для переселенців

Repair of the road in the village of Dashiv was carried out at the expense of the local budget in June 2023

To meet the needs of the community's residents and displaced people, the Dashivska community constantly cooperates with various non-governmental organizations and foundations that provide humanitarian aid. Thus, as part of the U-LEAD with Europe program, the community received two packages of emergency aid — Shelter and Lighting. European partners provided the community with camping beds, tents, blankets, hygiene products, water tanks, and street lighting, and most importantly, there are nine generators that provide the community with electricity during emergency shutdowns.

In particular, thanks to the generators, the village council, the center for providing administrative services, and the indomitability point with all necessities in case of blackouts can work without interruption. Another generator is in the center of social services, where displaced people, people with disabilities, and older people live. According to the utility company, the generator helps provide round-the-clock hot water, four meals daily and store all products.

Generators were also installed on water pipes, which provide water to the residents of the Dashivska community, the local hospital, and the school. The village council secretary, Voichenko, is convinced that thanks to the U-LEAD with Europe program, Dashiv residents survived this difficult winter without any difficulties.

Дашівська громада для переселенцівThe Dashiv Center for Provision of administrative services is one of the best in the Vinnytsia region

It was not by chance that the Dashivska community turned to U-LEAD with Europe for help. The community has been cooperating with this program for many years. Thus, in 2020, with the support of U-LEAD, a Center for the provision of administrative services was created in the community, where today, residents of 24 community settlements are provided with more than 200 services.

At that time, the U-LEAD with Europe program organized the training of specialists in providing administrative services and provided the Center with modern equipment and furniture. By the way, already during the war in November 2022, at the regional forum Digital Vinnytsia: digital solutions for the development of communities, the Dashiv Center for Provision of administrative services received a certificate of honor from the Vinnytsia Regional Military Administration and the Vinnytsia Regional Council as one of the best ones in Vinnytsia region.

U-LEAD with Europe specialists helped to create the Dashivska community's development strategy until 2030, for which they are very grateful because now this strategy is at the stage of implementation, adds Svitlana Voychenko

Even more useful solutions!

"We have neither the moral nor the physical right to feel sorry for ourselves and to say that it is difficult for us"

Svitlana Voichenko is a native of Dashiv. Voichenko recalls that when she entered the Vinnytsia National Technical University and moved to live in Vinnytsia, the city captivated her.

"Life turned out in such a way that I returned to Dashiv, and then I thought: why not create the same conditions where you live? Not to look for comfort somewhere where someone has already created it, but to do the same in your hometown, especially since I love Dashiv very much," Voichenko shares in a conversation with Rubryka.

In 2010, she started working as a secretary in the Dashiv settlement council. She says that the motivation to change the native community has increased many times because real opportunities have been added to the desire. After all, working with a team of specialists who know their business, led by the experienced chairman Serhiy Titarenko, who has been the head of the community for more than 20 years, they managed to really make the community more comfortable and implement many grant projects.

Дашівська громада для переселенців

Thanks to grants, a youth-tourist object, the Island of Love, appeared on the community's territory instead of a cluttered, overgrown island.

Park zone of the Dashiv community "Island of Love"

"We started writing projects and looking for funding to create comfortable conditions here so that communities have roads and lighting, children have sports fields, and young mothers have a place to go with their children to rest and play. This is how our project activity began," says Voichenko.

With the help of grant projects, children's playgrounds were installed in the community, football fields with an artificial surface were created, and capital and ongoing repairs were carried out in social institutions. Also, thanks to grants, an interesting youth-tourist object, the Island of Love, appeared on the community's territory instead of a cluttered, overgrown island.

"Of course, sometimes it's difficult," Voichenko admits. "Especially now, during the war. It is difficult to communicate with people because everyone is very emotional. People do not always understand that we cannot do something because it is not within our authority. It is necessary to explain everything. But when such a depression begins, I imagine — what about those guys on the front lines now? It is much more difficult for them. We simply have no moral or physical right to feel sorry for ourselves and say that it's not easy for us."

The village council secretary notes that over time, an understanding has emerged — to change something, it is not necessary to work in local self-government bodies or government bodies. Modernity offers a lot of opportunities, and in the Dashivska community, as in many others, they are already learning to use them effectively.

This article was published as part of the Voice of Communities campaign, which is part of the Program for Ukraine on local empowerment, accountability, and development U-LEAD with Europe, jointly funded by the EU and its member states Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, and Slovenia to support Ukraine on its way to strengthening local self-government. U-LEAD promotes transparent, accountable, and multi-level governance in Ukraine that responds to the needs of citizens and empowers communities.


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