Trauma, grief and recovery: bringing hope to war-torn families in Ukraine 

Young brunette mum from Ukraine smiles proudly while holding her baby boy in her arms.

In March 2022, Russian troops shot and killed Tina’s fiancé. She was three months pregnant at the time. This is how our team helped her find the strength to carry on.

“We lived together. I was pregnant with his child. And then the next moment, he was gone. Just dead.”  

In 2022, Tina’s* home near Borodianka, Kyiv, was violently occupied in the early days of the Russian war on Ukraine. Her entire family hid while bombs destroyed their village.

“I saw my husband cry for the first time in my life,” remembers Lilia*, Tina’s mum. “We were afraid that at any moment, one of us could be killed.” 

Two years on, Tina’s story of loss and recovery sheds light on the devastating impacts of war, the power of support, and the essential work our Ukraine team is doing to support families on the frontline.  

Will you help us support children and families living through war in Ukraine? Donate today.

Tina and baby Serhii welcoming our Mobile Team as they arrive, Ukraine.
Tina and baby Serhii in the garden outside their family home in Borodianka community, Ukraine. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Loss of loved ones 

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, countless Ukrainian families have been torn apart.

Young people are facing violence, displacement, and in Tina’s case, the tragic loss of loved ones. 

 “They entered our village on March 5th,” Tina remembers. “The Russians went around our village stealing things, killing people. My fiancé, Serhii*, went outside and there was a Russian ambush. He was killed.”  

Tina, 22, wipes tears from her eyes as she recalls the day her fiancé was killed by Russian troops.
Tina*, 22, wipes tears from her eyes as she recalls the day her fiancé was killed by Russian troops. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

“We lived together. I was pregnant with his child. And then the next moment, he was gone. Just dead.” 

As a result, Tina’s family hid inside for two weeks before evacuating to a nearby village.

Tina had lost her home, her partner, and her hope for the future. She was deeply traumatised.

Five weeks in hiding 

Since the war began, an estimated one in three people in Ukraine have been forced to flee their homes.

Even today, children continue to endure nightly air raids and bombings. Lilia, Tina’s mum, remembers trying to shield her children from the violence outside. 

“Each night was torture,” she says. “When aeroplanes fly overhead and your child presses your hand and asks if there’ll be an explosion, it’s very scary. Our children know more about war than adults.” 

Lilia, Tina's mum.
Lilia, Tina’s mum. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Following this, the whole family spent five weeks in hiding before it was safe enough to go home. When they did, they discovered it’d been looted by soldiers. Food, supplies, livestock, everything gone.  

A family of six, who’d lost everything, on the frontline. 

A lifeline from the Mobile Team during the Ukraine war

For the last two years, our team in Ukraine has been working to support children and families living through the war. Families like Tina’s.

After the Russian troops left Borodianka, we sent in one of our Mobile Teams – emergency support units that provide humanitarian and psychological support. 

“We respond directly to what’s needed for each individual family,” says Liudmyla Boiko, leader of the Mobile Team in Borodianka. “Without our support, the families we work with could lose their core and fall apart.” And when families fall apart, children are at risk of institutionalisation.

Liudmyla Boiko, Head of our Mobile Mental Health Team in Borodianka community.
Out of the rubble of war, Liudmyla Boiko, Head of our Mobile Team in Borodianka, brings hope to war-torn Ukrainian families. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Tina’s family received everything they needed to get by – including food, blankets, clothing and pregnancy supplies for Tina. “We were so grateful,” says Lilia. The Mobile Team was a lifeline in their toughest hour.  

Psychological support during war in Ukraine

Next, after providing all the essentials, our Mobile Teams set up safe spaces for psychological support. Often the only people providing this service, our therapists work with children and families to help them overcome the traumas of war. 

In Borodianka, Tina, Lilia and the whole family received free counselling and therapy.

Thanks to our team, Tina was able to slowly reclaim her strength – dealing with the trauma of losing her fiancé. A few months later, Tina gave birth to her son, baby Serhii. Named after his dad. 

After all I’d been through, giving birth to my baby was the happiest moment of my life. He’s my hope, my future. Without the Mobile Team, this would have been so much harder.” 

Tina* laughing joyfully with baby Serhii* in her arms, Ukraine.
Tina laughing joyfully as baby Serhii sleeps peacefully in her arms. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Looking ahead 

Now, Serhii’s healthy and growing fast and thanks to our Mobile Team, Tina’s doing much better. She has everything she needs to raise her baby boy, and we’re sticking by her side to make sure she feels safe and supported on the road ahead. 

“Our work makes children, families and communities stronger,” says Liudmyla. “Together, this helps keep families together and prevents children from being institutionalised.” 

“The help from the Mobile Team was so important to me, and to my family,” explains Lilia. “Psychological support means a lot to people. It helps you find the strength to go on, to somehow continue living because you need to support your kids. This service is absolutely essential for people in Ukraine. 

Lilia, Tina and their family smiling for a family photo outside their home, Ukraine.
Tina (right), Lilia (left) and the family feeling hopeful again, outside their home in Borodianka. Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Tina’s is just one of thousands of families supported by our Mobile Teams since the war in Ukraine began, helping them stay together in times of crisis.

Thank you to all of you who’ve already donated and helped make the work of our Mobile Teams possible. If you’d like to help our team continue reaching more families with urgent practical and emotional support, please give whatever you can. Thank you.

Donate today and help bring hope back to family.