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Refugee Shelter: 1 Month Update

Since opening opening our shelter one month ago, we have evacuated over 120 people and welcomed over 170 refugees. Some of these evacuations we have done ourselves, alternatively we connect them with our reliable network that we have built through our 10+ months of experience in this area. Through this network, we coordinate people’s evacuation further west, to areas where they will no longer live under constant fear of their homes being bombarded.

Currently, we are working at a 50-person capacity, however we hope to double this in the next month as we raise more financial support for this project. The need is immense in this area, particularly facilitating people’s evacuation from this unlivable area. We have found many, mostly elderly, people who have been living in underground bunkers for months as they have not had the opportunity to evacuate.

On average, people live here for 5-6 days to rest and plan their next step. They connect with family and friends and find a more permanent place to evacuate to. However, we have also welcomed 10 permanent residents at the shelter whose homes have been destroyed and have nowhere to evacuate to at the moment. Of course, these people can stay here for as long as they need.
Over the past 3 weeks, we have regularly reached our maximum capacity of 50 residents and we would like to increase our capacity to be able to welcome more refugees.

At our shelter we have the following services for 50 people:

  • Evacuation services – Our shelter is a central hub for evacuations in the Donetsk region, both evacuating people from surrounding rural areas, many of whom are elderly and/or disabled. As well as facilitating their evacuation further west, to areas that are safer and can provide a more long-term resettlement plan.
  • Warm meals – Our chef, Luba who herself evacuated from Bakhmut a few months ago but has stayed to help, makes three warm meals for all residents daily. Residents share balanced meals together, something that many have not been able to do for months.
  • Laundry services – Many of the refugees who pass through have not had power for close to a year, meaning laundry was incredibly difficult to do.
  • Bathing facilities – Another service that was taken away from people when the power infrastructure was destroyed was the ability to shower and bath regularly. We have these facilities for all residents.
  • Medical assistance – In partnership with Frontline Medics, we have opened a small clinic to support our residents. It is open 24/7 so people can access medical care whenever they need. Our medical team triages patients and sends them to the local hospital if needed.
  • Connection point – All residents can charge their phones, connect to WIFI and access a computer. They can connect with their families and friends, letting them know they are safe, and potentially finding somewhere to evacuate to.
  • TV and reliable news – An extensive problem in this area is the spread of Russian disinformation and propaganda, the best way to combat this is by giving people access to reliable news sources. We have TV, radio and newspapers free to use in our shelter.
  • Online school for children – We were donated around 10 laptops and have setup an online school classroom for any children who are residents of the shelter.

A Story From the Ground…

From Chasiv Yar to Safety: A Refugee’s Brave Bike Ride.

We recently received a call form a local partner informing us that they had just spoken to an older man who was biking from Chasiv Yar to our center. This is a 20 km bike ride along destroyed, icy roads with missiles constantly flying overhead. When we received the call he was still around 12km away, our team immediately headed out to pick him up. We successfully brought both him and his bike to our center. He had been living in an underground bunker in Chasiv yar by himself for over 4 months without any help or option to evacuate. When he was able, he would visit a neighbor’s house to acquire food and supplies. This individual had been informed about our center and the reliable evacuation services we offer. He lived in our shelter for seven days until we found him a place in a shelter in Lviv, where he is now. In Lviv, he can start to recover from this traumatizing experience and begin to look for a job. This is just one of the hundreds of stories of the people who have passed through our shelter.