After weeks of living in fear, a Ukrainian family find a world of support

While one family has found safety and support on the outskirts of Kharkiv, they cannot forget the horrors of war.

UNICEF
29 June 2022

At a health centre on the outskirts of Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine, a family with two twin boys stand in line to collect UNICEF-supported aid. These Immediate Response WASH & Dignity kits are sufficient for the needs of one family of five for one month. A single family kit includes water purifying tablets, blankets, toilet paper, a child potty, sanitary pads, underwear, and other important necessities for emergency situations. 

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UNICEF
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UNICEF

The boys are laughing and making jokes. But while they may seem calm, their world has been turned upside down. When war first broke out on February 24, seven-year-old Bohdan and Vlad had a simple but difficult question for their mother, Valentyna, and father Oleksiy.

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UNICEF
The Pyvovar family in the sanatorium "Vysokyy"

““Mum, what is it?” they asked. “This is war,”” replied their parents, as the shells began to fall nearby and the walls of their house began to shake. 

Terrified, the family moved into the basement. For a brief time it helped them to feel safer, but it was damp and water dripped from the ceiling. The children became silent and had problems falling asleep. It was not long before there was no electricity or gas. 

As the war escalated, the shells struck closer.

“I know that even now, after three months of war, there are people who remain living in our area, including families with children,” says Valentyna. “But we decided that nothing was worth as much as the safety of our children. When the shell fell in our backyard on March 11, we got in the car and left the house.”

“It was scary driving through Kharkiv. We knew it as a peaceful big city, but it became dark, worrying, dangerous.”

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UNICEF
Vlad Pyvovar, 7 y.o.
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UNICEF
Bohdan Pyvovar, 7 y.o.

Working around the clock

Millions of children and families are at risk in Ukraine as the conflict continues to escalate. Homes, schools, water supplies and hospitals are damaged. Explosives, including landmines, are a daily threat to children’s lives.

UNICEF has been working around the clock to keep children safe, connect the vulnerable with child health and protection services, and provide clean water and nutritious food.

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UNICEF
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UNICEF

“The most important thing is that we’re fine”

Friends told the family about a shared house in the southern part of Kharkiv. Here, they are provided with a room and help from volunteers. UNICEF specialists and partners are also on hand to help. 

Every other day, Valentyna works in the kitchen of the house, which hosts dozens of displaced families. The children are learning to live again.

“Kids came back to life in their normal rhythm pretty quickly, being as noisy as they used to be,” she says. “They’re happy spending whole days outside. UNICEF’s volunteers come and entertain them, conduct lessons and deliver gifts. The most important thing is that we are fine.”

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