Teams of experts transform lives of families in Ukraine
Displaced families are finding their feet again thanks to roving teams of experts.
This year, Lyudmila Rudnichok has seen first-hand what a big difference a small team of experts can make to families displaced by war.
"Many people left their homes without anything,” says Rudnichok, who runs one of UNICEF’s 50 mobile assistance teams in Ukraine. “Some of them have relatives left at home, while some people have nowhere to live. They address us with different questions and problems. They just need help with fitting into a peaceful life.”
Rudnichok’s expert team – which consists of a doctor, social worker, psychologist and lawyer – has spent the last few months helping over 80 displaced people living in a kindergarten in the city of Sarny. Most are mothers with children and the elderly.
Yulia, 31, was one of the mothers who desperately needed this lifeline, after a shell destroyed her home in Sloviansk and she was forced to flee with her two children.
"The windows blew out,” recalls Yulia, sadly. “That's why we decided to flee. The kids were scared. They are still terrified and have nightmares.”
In Sarny, Rudnichok’s mobile team, run by UNICEF and the Ukrainian Public Health Foundation, helped Yulia to receive legal, psychological, medical and social support.
"The team's consultations were helpful,” she says. “The lawyer explained how to get help. And the children could draw and really liked it.”
Natalia, 35, was also relieved to receive assistance from the team. In February, she and her two children fled their home in Sloviansk, and found themselves struggling in Sarny – until the team came to her aid. Now, she is finding her feet again.
It is very good here, as it would be at home,” says Natalia. “We help out. For example, we sorted out potatoes and swept out a room."
Since March 2022, 50 mobile teams put together by UNICEF and the Ukrainian Public Health Foundation have been busy addressing the needs of families affected by the war. Each team consists of a psychologist, social worker, lawyer and doctor.
In the last five months, teams have assisted over 170,000 people affected by the war, including families with children. In total, more than 700,000 services have been provided in the Lvivska, Zakarpatska, Rivnenska, Vinnytska, Dnipropetrovska, Chernivetska, Volynska, Zhytomyrska, Khmelnytska, Ternopilska and Ivano-Frankivska regions. Over one fifth (22 per cent) of its services have been provided to children.
The teams provide socio-psychological assistance to war-affected people. This assistance includes psychological first aid and support, legal counselling, social support and services, medical assistance (consultation, online communication with doctors, referral to other specialists), and provision of humanitarian kits and informational materials.
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