On June 11 the first group of evacuated residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts arrived to the Center of Temporary Residence of refugees with children.
The center is located in Voloske village, Dnipropetrovsk oblast. The center was organized by Andrii Pinchuk, head of the monitoring council of the Charity Foundation “We Are Helping,” a resident of the village and senior priest of the local church. As a priest, a father having many children, and a respected man, Pinchuk appealed to the head of the village school Ruslan Topol with a proposal to organize a camp for refugees on the basis of the school. The head of the school gladly agreed, and the camp was organized within less than a week. The organizers found sponsors who helped to buy washing machines, folding beds, mattresses, boilers, shower cabins, and provided water supply. The school canteen started to work again; volunteers are bringing the food. The camp can house up to 100 people. Most of the migrants are women with children and elderly people. Currently nearly 90 migrants from Sloviansk and Kramatorsk are living there.
It is unknown for how long these people will stay in the camp. “Everyone hopes that everything will end as soon as possible, so that they could go back home, not to the destroyed houses, but to those that have escaped destruction, where their relatives live,” says the representative of the Charity Foundation “We Are Helping” Olha Yaroshenko. “Many of those who arrive need elementary things, because they did not have time to pack. People admitted that a new column of refugees will arrive tomorrow – and that’s all.”
The volunteers in the camp are mostly people who used to help the charity foundation before, and in this critical situation they have even volunteered to be the wardens. Doctors are staying in the camp all the time, psychologists are working with people. The organizers note that there is a need for volunteers who would work with children – this is very important for improving of their psychological condition.
“Many people responded to the problem, they are helping, taking interest,” Olha Yaroshenko continues. “There are people who come at night and take the refugees to their homes, some people phone and tell that they are ready to house a family or lease a dwelling for them, some people are ready to give their cottages. But there is another problem – how are the refugees going to live afterwards? Therefore the most important thing is to arrange peaceful life. We should understand where these people will go back. We should pray for survival of people who have stayed in the hot spots, and it is hard to speak about working there. A man from Sloviansk says, ‘The plant where I worked has been destroyed. I don’t care what the power will be, if I have work.’ On the whole, we have a rule: no politics, because our task is to help people and prevent them from becoming the witnesses of war or suffer somehow.”
Clearly, little residents of the center don’t realize to the full what is going on, but the adults are very much tensed. Some of them don’t understand the situation to the full, others are very scared. Therefore psychologists are working in the camp on a regular basis, but often even the volunteers need psychological help.
“There are discontent and whimsical people, but they are rare,” Olha Yaroshenko comments. “We explain right away that this camp is temporary and it aims to help people to come to their senses. We are the center which helps to bring the people out of the hot spot and give a first-time housing, feed, and reassure. State social services with which we cooperate take care of registration, giving a status of a refugee, and this kind of procedures [In Dnipropetrovsk it is the Center of Refugees and Migrants Assistance. – Ed.]. There are people who with time come to senses and say: ‘Thank you, we have recalled that we have relatives/friends, we will go to them.’ The main task is to take the people away from the region, which is problematic, firstly, because of the checkpoints, and secondly, not everyone will risk leaving his native, although dangerous home for vague stations of other cities. But if the person knows that s/he has a place to go, it is easier for them to dare. Previously social services gathered groups of people directly in Sloviansk, only called us and asked to receive them, as we can take people only from the border of Dnipropetrovsk oblast.”