Solutions 14:45 15 Aug 2022

Evacuation to the village: solutions for IDPs, advantages, disadvantages, and a real story

Mandatory evacuation from the Donetsk region continues, and people leave the occupied and front-line territories and usually go to the cities. We tell you why evacuation to the village can be the best option, what you need to keep in mind and how to adjust to a new place based on the story of an IDP family that was able to.

What is the problem?

The war unleashed by russia against Ukraine forced millions of Ukrainians to leave their homes and seek refuge in other, more peaceful places. Mandatory evacuation from the Donetsk region is currently underway — staying there now and waiting for winter is life-threatening.

Residents of regional and district centers say they have not seen such an influx of people since 2014. And it's true, most of the forced migrants go to the cities — to the million-plus cities or slightly smaller; villages remain a less "desirable" option for immigrants. People are frightened by the prospect of starting everything from scratch in the countryside. Compared to the city, the infrastructure is not so developed, the work is more difficult, and there is more physical labor.

What is the solution?

But is it really? Yes, working in the village is more difficult than in the city. Usually, it isn't easy and is not highly paid. But there is no less a problem with jobs in the cities now. There are dozens of applicants for each vacancy. Internally displaced persons currently live mainly on social benefits and find it increasingly difficult to rent housing. You don't need an economic education to understand: finding accommodation in the village is easier and cheaper. And if you put effort into even a tiny plot of land, you can have your own vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meat.

Many Ukrainian communities are waiting for immigrants. The assets include cheap or even free housing, picturesque nature, and human hospitality. Those fleeing the war and in need of help are invited to live in the villages of the Rivne region, Sumy region, Ternopil region, Khmelnytskyi region, and Cherkasy region. Locals help the displaced people with food, clothes, and even searching for work. But they do not hide that they also have their own interest — to develop villages and fill schools.

How does it work?

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

In April, a family of migrants from the Donetsk region settled in the Sumy village of Podstavka of the Synivka Territorial Community. Svitlana Hergy, Vyacheslav Yakovenko, and their two daughters, Nastya and Alisa, fled from the burning Volnovakha with all their pets — three dogs and five cats.

"We went through hell," Svitlana tells Rubryka. "Two days in the basement under continuous shelling. There was no electricity, no communication. Only one battle subsided, and another was approaching. They fled by car at their own peril and risk. There are broken cars and buses on the road from the city. I decided that our lives were more important than anything else, that my children should not sleep in the basement; they should not hear the sounds of war. After what we have experienced, we decide everything. It couldn't have been worse than it was during those two days in Volnovakha."

It was not immediately possible to find permanent shelter with the family. On the third attempt, they finally settled in the Sumy region. An old house, which no one had lived in for ten years, was given by Svitlana's husband's relative. They took almost nothing with them. There was no place or time to pack things — whatever they had, they left.

The village council immediately helped and came to the rescue. They quickly issued documents and gave adult and children's clothes, diapers, detergents, cereals, stew, oil, canning in three-liter jars, potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, and beets. Mattresses, pillows, bed linen, and blankets were in excellent condition. Village council employees even brought new things! "My husband and I are still in a pleasant shock,"  Svitlana says gratefully. People in the village sympathize and understand, worry, and help as much as possible.

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

In Volnovakha, the family left a comfortable, settled life, a large house of their own. Svetlana is currently on maternity leave, and Vyacheslav had a stable job — he worked as an energy engineer. In a peaceful time, the couple constantly volunteered. A year ago in Volnovakha, they cleared the ponds, and now they are removing the thickets on the plot, so there is a place to plant a garden next year. They clean the house, work in the garden, which they also planted themselves, and in the yard.

The life of immigrants is far from a fairy tale. But Svitlana Herga is sure that the daily work, faith, and help of caring people create miracles. If a person lost not only their house but also their job because of the war, this does not mean that it is impossible to find another one. If you don't have all the necessary tools, that's not a reason to get upset and give up. You just need to start with something.

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

"At first, we slept in the summer kitchen," Svitlana recalls. "Mice ate the sofas in the house, the wind was blowing from all the cracks, but at least there was firewood. Neighbors gave a new multicooker and brought dishes. We were happy to have our own corner. The house in Volnovakha was damaged after we left — all the windows were blown out, the roof was broken, it was completely ransacked — there is nowhere to return. The village council's head was glad we decided to stay here forever — he sent two local deputies. They brought us a toilet to the yard and wanted to plow the big garden, but there was a lot of garbage there, so we will only order a tractor for the fall. Then he was interested in what he could do to help. As soon as some humanitarian aid arrives, he calls and invites us. It is good to help those who are grateful for any help. And not only the local government but also fellow villagers."

Now, when Svitlana posts on social networks about their life in the village, she is often told that she is lucky. But the woman does not believe that someone was "unlucky": "We did not expect someone to help us, but how much we received! Now we are getting back on our feet, helping others."

Thanks to humanitarian aid, we were able to save money. With them, Vyacheslav bought a lawnmower and much-needed tools. He arranges the yard and repairs the house himself. And also — he mows the grass for old neighbors; they, in turn, treat the family with something delicious and thank them with groceries.

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

"Being a displaced person in the village is not as scary as some imagine," Svitlana continues. "Today, we just went out with the children for a walk on the playground, and we got so much attention! People happily gave sweets to the children. We are constantly asked if we still need children's clothes, shoes, and toys and how people can help. Many thanks to all the good people! There are products and clothes, some toys, we buy books, and everything else we will get in time! First, there are part-time jobs; in the future, there is an opportunity to get a new job." The couple installed the Internet in the house and learned a lot thanks to YouTube videos and publications. And the woman plans to register as an entrepreneur — she knows how to sew and already has orders from her fellow villagers. The village council promises to allocate space for this.

Did they really succeed?

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

The abandoned house came to life within three months of living in it.

Svitlana Hergy believes that finding a free house in Sumy and Poltava regions is not a problem. It is not a problem even to stay in it forever. The only question is what you know how to do or what you are willing to learn. Whoever wants to earn money will have money, says the immigrant. Internet and mail are minimal features that can be used to their full potential. This is an excellent way to gain new knowledge, order materials, and create and sell. For example, Svitlana made a patchwork blanket for her child, and the neighbors already ordered the same one for themselves. Because such a blanket lifts the mood, is durable, does not change its color, size, or volume during use, and lasts longer.

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

"By the way," adds our heroine, "men with hands and heads are always at hand in the village." Some repair household appliances, make furniture and help in construction, welding, plumbing, and electricity. Someone knows how to fix the Internet or a personal computer. Someone thinks: "no one needs us," "no one will deal with us." As a result, they sit still, suffer in silence and impose their bad experience on others."

The couple is not ashamed to ask people for help and is always grateful for it. In turn, they help their neighbors. They always tell fellow villagers not to be ashamed and to turn to them for help.
Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

The couple has already helped their neighbors to poison the Colorado beetle and to bring medicine; twice they put firewood in the woodshed for retired neighbors and are ready to do it every year. "Because the neighbors accepted us as their own, they were among the first to help us when we arrived here. They still ask what else to give us. Thank you, but we don't need anything more, now we want to give. And you should not think that no one needs displaced people, that they live like homeless people or wander somewhere. If there is a goal to get out and start from scratch, no matter what it costs, you will find a free home forever, not just for a while. You will receive the necessary payments. You will receive help and moral support from others. And also — you will find activities to your heart's content even when you are very busy with work."

Why should you come to the villages?

Svitlana Hergy finds more and more advantages in the evacuation to the village.

  • A liter of homemade cow's milk costs UAH 10. It benefits those who love milk and are ready to make sour cream and cheese from it. A local farmer sells ready-made cheeses for 100 UAH/kg and 500 ml of fat homemade sour cream for 50 UAH. The vegetable garden grows its own vegetables, which will last the whole winter.

  • The couple ordered a tool for collecting firewood. There are a lot of old trees on their plot. There are many of them in the neighboring landfills as well — the heating will be almost free.

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

  • You don't have to pay for the purest water from a well. By the way, at first, the family just bought a new bucket for it, and now it already has a pump.
  • Clean air, silence, and a safe environment without mines are significant advantages for children.

However, living in a village far from the front means not only sweet and peaceful sleep but also constant work, making maximum use of available resources.

Svitlana says that people post a lot on social networks about how difficult it is to live in the city now. There is no work, and there is practically nothing to buy groceries with. But it is much easier to survive in the village because there are many caring people. It is another advantage of evacuation to the village.

"In the spring, the villagers wholeheartedly brought us potatoes for planting and some for cooking. So we used the saved money to repair the roof. And now my husband has taken things from which our children grew up, covers for sofas and chairs, shoes, and toys that I sewed for people in need. And so does every fellow villager! If there is a surplus of crops or things in good condition at home, they take them to the social welfare office or the head of the village council. The main thing is that nothing gets lost, does not take up space, and benefits people!"

The small house that went to Svitlana and Vyacheslav also has its advantages in the current conditions – it is inexpensive to heat. "We used to have a huge house – 6,400 UAH per month only for heating! Now – free firewood. Now we have a flat and fertile area."Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

There is also a kindergarten, a school, and a shop in Pidstavky. And what is essential is a caring village head. As a result, well-kept ponds and streets. Parents do not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages on children's playgrounds and do not leave litter behind. The houses are well-kept both inside and outside. The woman is sure that there are many such villages in Ukraine, and evacuation to them will not only be easier for displaced people than to the city but will also help local communities in their development.

"Yes, it is morally tough to be a displaced person, but it is better to start all over again than to be left without loved ones. Our village council is happy to help the displaced people, but the displaced people do not want to live in the village. Therefore, our kindergarten and school are without immigrants. There are abandoned houses, but the settlers do not want to put things in order here because they want to leave in a while. But – rightly notes Svitlana Hergy – there is no guarantee they will have a place to return to."

Even more useful solutions!

Евакуація в село: рішення для переселенців, переваги, недоліки та реальна історія

A few more advantages of living in the village:

  • Much lower prices for products and manufactured goods.
  • Clean Air. There are no factories and a lot of traffic in the village, so the air is less polluted.
  • Proximity to nature.
  • Food quality. Villagers have their own gardens where they grow vegetables and fruits. Most keep domestic animals, so they receive products of animal origin.
  • A lot of land that you don't need to buy – organize and plant vegetables, berries, and fruit trees.
  • Silence. The village will become a real paradise for those who like to spend their time quietly and calmly, without noise and commotion.
  • Free niches for self-realization.
  • Security. Villages in the rear do not know what mines are and are not a target for the enemy.


Disadvantages of rural life:

  • Lack of infrastructure. Parks, cinemas, cafes, and restaurants are the prerogative of cities.
  • A lot of physical work.
  • Lack of high-paying work. But if you work remotely, this is not a problem.

How can immigrants find housing in the village?


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