Youngsters help IDPs adapt to new communities
UPSHIFT programme participants have developed a new community calendar for internally displaced people in Ukraine, bringing families and friends together
The war in Ukraine has devastated the lives of millions, killing thousands and uprooting scores from their homes. Even after finding relative safety, many people face endless challenges – finding a new job, housing and friends. For families with children, they must also find new schools and kindergartens.
Vladyslava Kulinich, 21, and her family were forced to flee their home in Kharkiv due to constant shelling. She has spent the last few months trying to fit into her new community and is now hoping to help others like her.
Several years ago, Vladyslava took part in UPSHIFT, a programme that works to empower young people with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This year, graduates of the programme were invited to design projects aimed at helping people during the war.
“I didn’t have an idea for a project yet, but I really wanted to do something,” says Vladyslava. “So I started to assemble a team and wrote about the programme in various youth chats. People started responding.”
Before long, Vladyslava and her team had created the Calendar of Opportunities project, which helps people to better adapt to new communities. Most of her team have also fled their homes because of the war, so they are well aware of the challenges faced by internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees.
“This is a calendar for people who have moved to a new place and don't know where to spend their time, or where the administrative buildings, schools or recreation areas are. Each day of the calendar contains a lot of details, and more information about the events can be found following the links. It is also possible to monitor events in neighbouring communities.”
Information in the calendar is divided into three sections:
- My new community (history, traditions, important administrative buildings).
- How can I help the community? (volunteer centres, NGOs).
- Interesting events (events, international educational programmes, exchanges and internships).
The calendar offers information on eight communities in the Lviv region, where the largest number of IDPs live. It has two versions, printed and online.
“We also added links to groups in social networks or joint chats of local residents to the calendar,” adds Anastasia Nardied, 21, another member of the team. “Community news and various announcements, such as job vacancies, are often posted there.”
The team hopes that the calendar will help IDPs to make new friends by bringing people together at events.
“I left my city and settled in a new community, in another country, so I know a lot about the problem that the project aims to address. I know that many young people do not have enough confidence to find their place in a new city, so I want to help.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are around 7 million internally displaced people in Ukraine, and another 7.4 million people have fled abroad. Now, the Calendar of Opportunities team is thinking about expanding the project to other regions of the country, and possibly even internationally.
“We really want to develop the project further,” says Anastasia. “Our team has created a calendar for the Lviv region, but we can augment it with new events and organizations over time. Many people moved to other regions of Ukraine. Later, the calendar may also become international, since there are many Ukrainians in different countries of Europe.”