Afraid for the future, one Ukrainian family gets a helping hand
One family who fled the horrors of war in Kyiv has been given a helping hand thanks to UNICEF’s cash assistance programme.
Four months ago, the lives of Yulia Supereka, her husband and their three daughters changed forever with the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
Two-year-old twins Mariia and Sophia, and their seven-year-old sister Polina, had heard about the fighting that had raged in the East for eight years. But, suddenly, it was at their front door.
Petrified, the family started packing clothes, toys and food, hoping to flee Kyiv for a safer place. But leaving the city seemed impossible.
"When it became difficult to get fuel at gas stations, we realized that it would be hard for us to leave with small children because there were queues everywhere,” recalls Yulia. "We have a summer house in the Chernihivska region, so we decided to go there.”
The day after their arrival, Russian troops entered the village.
“We never imagined that the village would be invaded,” says the mother of three. “It's just a small place in the middle of nowhere. They set up their checkpoints on the entrance and exit of the village, without letting any aid inside.”
As the fighting escalated, basic necessities like food, medicines and diapers became harder and harder to find.
"We spent some time in basements, going there each time explosions occurred,” continues Yulia. “But it's impossible to stay there with little children for a long time. So we decided to just hide inside the house. We blocked off all the windows so that there was no light. You can't explain to the small children that at six in the evening they have to sleep quietly. "
Seven-year-old Polina tried to cope as best she could.
"We explained to her what the war is. She was scared a lot. When she heard the explosions, she was worried more than the others. She is already realizing what is going on, as she uses the internet, communicating with her peers who discuss the situation a lot.”
For a month, the family hid from the shells and gunfire. Then, as soon as they heard that it had become safer in Kyiv, they decided to risk the journey home.
"We were moving in columns of volunteer cars,” says Yulia. “Fifty-two cars drove in a column, being escorted from post to post. We drove through forests, and fields with ‘mine’ signs. And we didn't know whether we would get to Kyiv or not.”
Days later, much of the village where they had been staying was reduced to rubble.
Today, while the family is able to sleep more soundly in Kyiv, they are struggling financially.
"In Kyiv, we've managed to get some food, essential supplies for the kids, and diapers," says Yulia. "But I was on maternity leave before the war, and I'm still on it. In this situation, there is no opportunity to make extra money. My husband was left with no job. It has become more difficult, much more difficult.”
However, thanks to a humanitarian cash assistance programme run by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), they are able to afford food and clothes for the children. The assistance became possible thanks to generous financial support from the European Union and other partners.
Yulia can only hope for a happier, safer future for her children.
"I want peace and health for them. The rest is yet to come. But we need peace."
Thanks to contributions from the European Union, the Government of Italy, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNICEEF is making sure that the child health and protection services are available for every family. Thanks to our partners’ support, the critical supplies continue being delivered to cover the immediate needs of those fleeing the horrors of the war.