“Being a mum is difficult even when everything’s normal. It’s even more difficult during a war” – Olga’s* story

After Russian troops invaded her home, Olga became a refugee. Your support helped her hold her family together. Read on to find out how.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has created one of the largest humanitarian disasters Europe has seen since World War II. But through the chaos of war, we’re hearing stories of support, warmth and solidarity. Stories of people bringing strength back to family.

Your continued generosity has helped thousands of children throughout the war. Often, it’s been the lifeline that’s helped families on their road to recovery. Families like Olga’s.

Olga, a woman with long brown hair, sits with three of her children – two young boys, and one teenage girl.
Olga, centre, sits with her three young children in the Children’s Spot, Fastiv, in 2023.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Olga’s story

Olga, 41, lives in Fastiv, Kyiv Oblast. Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Olga has been doing everything she can to protect her four young children, including five-year-old Nikita*.

“The war has scared my children a lot. My eldest two know what a war is. They’ve felt it since 2014.”  

Olga, a mother and former police officer.

Like countless families across Ukraine, Olga’s has endured Russian aggression for nearly a decade. In 2016, tragedy struck when her two eldest daughters lost their dad to the fighting. Years later, Olga re-married and gave birth to two sons, Nikita and Natan*.

But then, in March 2022, everything changed when Russian aggression escalated into an all-out invasion. 

Olga holds her son, Nikita. He's wearing a checkered shirt, smiling as his mum hugs him close.
Pictured here age five, Nikita’s one of millions of children in Ukraine who’ve endured trauma under the Russian invasion.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

How Olga escaped the Russian invasion

When Russia invaded Olga’s hometown, the family was forced to flee. Overnight, Olga became a refugee.

“When the full-scale war started last year, to protect my children, I went to Poland with all four of them,” says Olga. “My younger children were very frightened by all the explosions and all the chaos that followed, and having to hide in air raid shelters just to save their lives.”

Her husband, Matvii*, stayed behind in Fastiv, volunteering psychological support for the Ukrainian military. Alone in a new country with four children, Olga bravely held her family together.

A refugee crisis

According to UNHCR, one in three people in Ukraine have been forced to flee their homes. 6.3 million became refugees, like Olga. And 14.6 million still need urgent humanitarian support.

Thankfully, because of the generosity of people like you, we’ve been there. On the ground. Day in, day out. Helping families in crisis.

Head to our Ukraine: Two Years On report to see how your donations have been helping children and families through the war.

The psychological impact of war

Sadly, the exposure to violence and war took its toll on all of Olga’s children. Over time, Olga noticed how much it was impacting Nikita.

“He was very scared, his psychological state was not okay,” remembers Olga. “When we returned to Ukraine, I could see his speech development was delayed. He couldn’t speak like other children.”

The trauma of war can permanently damage a child’s development, even their ability to speak. In Ukraine, this poses an even greater threat because authorities frequently place children needing specialist education in orphanages, even if they have living parents.

The Children’s Spot

To support children like Nikita, our team opened a Children’s Spot in Fastiv – a community centre on the grounds of Fastiv Hospital where parents can access free psychological support for their children.

Without this, our community would have a mental health crisis. Hundreds of children would face the risk of being placed in an orphanage.

Iryna Pustovii, Head of the Children’s Spot, Fastiv.

Learn more about the Children’s Spot and how your donations are helping children through the war.

A support work wearing blue scrubs helps Nikita walk across a climbing frame.
Nikita attends a rehabilitative session at the Children’s Spot.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Nikita’s road to recovery

Olga started taking Nikita to the Children’s Spot once a week, where he saw a psychologist and attended sensory therapy and speech therapy. Soon after, he’d improved drastically.

“As a result of our visits to the Children’s Spot, I noticed Nikita started to get better. He can even sleep well at night now. He’s not afraid of the air sirens and attacks.”

Olga, Nikita’s mother.

Thanks to his speech therapy sessions, Nikita was able to develop his communication skills. “He can completely understand me now, and can give me a meaningful answer,” says Olga. “He can tell me a story. This means I can better understand his behaviour and know how to react.” 

Nikita spends time together with a support worker, who is kneeling down to his level to talk to him.
At the Children’s Spot, staff offer speech therapy and other services tailored to support war-affected children.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

A brighter future for Ukrainian children

Thanks to the Children’s Spot, 383 other children like Nikita have received the support they needed to recover from their traumas. In this way, we’re helping to secure a brighter future for the youngest generation of Ukrainians.

“The Children’s Spot is so important because every child’s mental health has been impacted by the war,” explains Olga. “I want my child, my Niki, to go to school and have good knowledge. But my first and foremost dream is what all Ukrainians dream of. Our victory.”

Nikita sits smiling in a colourful ball pit.
Thanks to your support, Nikita’s back to doing what every five-year-old does best. Being a five-year-old.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Thank you

Inspired by Olga’s journey of resilience and hope? Be part of a movement that transforms lives and supports families in their toughest times.

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