She's got it 13:43 23 Feb 2024

Helping hand: resettlers help other displaced people integrate into Ternopil region's community

Rubryka tells the story of two resettlers who decided to deal with the adaptation of IDPs in their new community.

What is the problem?

Each of those forced to escape from the war, having arrived in a new city, faces the problem of adaptation — both adults and children. Children especially feel the need for support and finding new friends.

What is the solution?

In the Ternopil region, in the ancient town of Buchach, resettlers decided to unite and created the Helping Hand public association. The purpose of the community is to support those just starting their life in the city.

The events that Inna Savon and Olha Beloshapko organize for IDPs help the new residents adapt, improve their psycho-emotional state, form a new circle of communication, and become part of the community.

Read about what the Helping Hand does and the stories of its initiators in Rubryka's material.

How does it work?

Initiative and decisive

Inna Savon comes from a small mining town in the Donetsk region. In 2014, she moved to Kharkiv with her one-year-old daughter, and five years later, she moved to Kyiv, where, in 2022, she was again caught up in the war. After hiding with her child in the parking lot for a week due to the constant danger of Russia's missile attacks, she decided to go somewhere safer — to Ukraine's western Ternopil region.

Savon was welcomed by the local family, who supported them in every way, for which she is still immensely grateful to them. Having recovered from the first shock, Savon moved to Buchach with her child. There, she met Olha Beloshapko, who used to live in Zaporizhzhia before the full-scale invasion.

Like many Ukrainians, before the war, Beloshapko had a home, a steady job, and plans for the future. But everything changed on February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"We saw war in the movies, but we never imagined that it would become a part of our lives," recalls Beloshapko. The first explosions, constant sirens, terrible news, despair, bomb shelter, evacuation train, crossing the border with children on foot, with one backpack, which only contained documents and essential items — all this became a harsh reality for thousands of Ukrainians.


Inna Savon and Olha Beloshapko. Photo from the archive of heroines

Beloshapko spent five months in Poland, wanting to come home, but Zaporizhzhia is a front-line city, so it was dangerous to stay there. Shelling and night strikes forced the family to leave.

"Buchach welcomed us with warmth and peace, and over time, I realized that we were not waiting out — we live here. I began to feel a thirst for communication," Beloshapko shared with Rubryka.

She said meeting Savon made life in the new city easier and more fun.  

"We are both proactive and determined. That's how our NGO appeared," adds Savon.

"We tried, and it worked!"


 Master class Second Life of a Favorite T-shirt, in which IDPs and locals participated.

Although the Helping Hand initiative group was launched in May 2023, Beloshapko and Savon had started participating in community life even before they met and created the NGO. They volunteered, sorted humanitarian aid in the city cultural center and church, helped distribute products, and looked for charitable funds that could support more than two thousand IDPs who found shelter in the community.

"We realized that each of us, upon arriving in a new city, faces the problem of adaptation. The need for support was especially noticeable in children," Savon shared. Children, having left their homes and loved ones, were in a state of stress. Hence, the team needed something that would distract them from what they had experienced and, secondly, allow them to find new friends and continue to communicate in everyday life.

This thought became an impetus and motivation for further work — Savon and Beloshapko began organizing creative activities for displaced children. 

The master class, The Second Life of a Favorite T-shirt, became a successful pilot project. The guests were inspired and inspired the organizers back. They created incredible drawings on their clothes.

Helping hand unites and destroys stereotypes


Inna Savon conducts a masterclass on food floristry. Photo from the archive of heroines

Realizing that today's problems exist not only among IDP children, the activists began to invite Buchach residents to the master classes.

"Most of the initiatives worked exclusively with IDPs, and we involved both IDPs and locals in our events," Savon recalls. It worked great for adaptation and integration. The activists found it essential to destroy stereotypes about IDPs. After seeing the organization's activities, the locals realized that IDPs are also active community residents.

Since Buchach is a small town, the activities of the resettlers very quickly became known to everyone. After some time, Helping Hand happily invited various local institutions to hold events.

One of the sponsors of Helping Hands was CrimeaSOS and Buchach-ART, which offered their premises and became permanent partners of the group of active resettled women.

"When there is support, there is a zeal to act and create, which turns into positive changes," comments Lilia Savkiv, a representative of the Buchach-ART.

The main activities conducted by the organization are creative workshops for children and adults.


Olha Beloshapko conducts a workshop in the premises of the monastery in Yazlyvets village, home to IDP mothers with children and children who have lost their parents. Photo from the archive of heroines

Did they really succeed?

"By improving the condition of people, we improve the community"

According to the founders of the NGO, through art, a person can express themself, their state, or emotions. Therefore, when preparing master classes, they carefully select topics and methods. The age, gender, wishes, abilities, and skills of the participants are always taken into account. All this is for everyone to have the opportunity to make special DIY things for themselves or their relatives, to get positive emotions and new experiences.

The activists conduct workshops themselves — they watch YouTube videos, learn, and check the available materials to know what to buy.

In addition to creating crafts, workshops on drawing on clothes or paper, modeling, decoupage, and food floristry, the Helping Hand conducts excursions and participates in organizing sports and cultural events in the city. Active resettlers implement all their projects in cooperation with local organizations that provide the community with support and premises for creative meetings.


Helping Hand takes part in the "Let's Run Together" summer run organized by the local NGO Youth Portal. Photo from the archive of heroines

The co-founders of the NGO note that they see interest in such events and sometimes even receive requests for a second workshop.

The organization also involved a children's speech therapist-psychologist, with whom they agreed on offline training and six meetings with children. This helped draw parents' attention to some of the children's problems and helped them deal with them.


Drawing master class. Photo from the archive of heroines

"We are already seeing the results of our work. We were able to show that IDPs are also active participants in community life because we really do a lot," Savon is convinced. The fact that children have started to communicate with each other is a great indicator of successful integration.

The initiative's founders advise to find your people and not be afraid to start doing something. That's how life-changing stories begin.



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