'We Hug Them If They Cry’, Volunteers In Kharkiv Meet Displaced People
23 April, 2015

“We give them information, feed them and help them move from here onto other places in Ukraine… We hug them if they cry, we calm them down,” Alla explained. Alla is part of a volunteer organisation which helps internally displaced people in Kharkiv.

The railway station waiting room has been turned into a front line assistance center for people who have fled their homes in the East. “Why the station? Because people arrive here. Everyone knows where the station is,” Alla told Hromadske.

The center provides much needed services to those desperately in need of support. Alla and the other volunteers advice people on what help is available to them in Kharkiv and how to move forward with their situation. Many IDPs were only able to take what few possessions they could carry and so the volunteers also provide people with basic aid such as clothes, food and toys.

The terrifying experience of war and evacuation has left many feeling anxious and depressed. According to Alla not much can be done to help them recover psychologically until they have re-established their lives, “It’s going to take a long time psychologically. Until they get work and housing, a psychologist can’t help them”.

As at the 23 March 2015 the UN estimated that there are 1,178,000 IDPs in Ukraine. For several months a team of Hromadske traveled around Ukraine, from Sloviansk to Lviv, in search of stories of those who were left without their homes because of the war and the annexation. This the second story of part 1 of the Displaced series, a project about the lives of internally displaced persons in Ukraine from the Donbas region and Crimea.

// Hromadske TV with the support of the Thomson Foundation. Text by Isobel Koshiw. Filmed in February, 2015.