Meet Liudmyla: the fearless leader protecting war-affected children in Ukraine

Liudmyla Boiko, Head of our Mobile Mental Health Team in Borodianka community.

“We’re trying to prevent a mental health crisis among families and children of Ukraine,” explains Liudmyla Boiko, the leader of one of our Mobile Teams.

Thanks to your donations, Liudmyla and her team bring vital emergency support to children on the frontlines in Ukraine. Read on to find out how. 

The UNHCR estimates 14.6 million people in Ukraine now require urgent humanitarian support as a result of Russia’s full-scale war. Children are among the worst affected, living through violence, displacement and the loss of loved ones.

But as always, there’s hope. Since shortly after Russia invaded, Liudmyla Boiko’s Mobile Team in Borodianka has been working round-the-clock to protect children and families in the worst-hit communities.  

Will you help children and families traumatised by war in Ukraine? Donate today.

Residential buildings have been targeted by Russian airstrikes. As a result, one in three people in Ukraine have been forced to flee their homes.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

What is a Mobile Team?

Mobile Teams are our emergency response units that provide humanitarian and psychological support. 

These teams are frequently among the first responders in recently de-occupied territories. After addressing people’s most urgent needs, they set up safe spaces in the heart of communities to offer free psychological support and therapy. 

Often the only people providing these services, our Mobile Teams have been lifelines to children and families living in the worst affected towns. Towns like Borodianka, in Kyiv. 

The Mobile Mental Health Team takes a group photo outside their black van, smiling on a sunny day.
The Borodianka Mobile Team about to get in their van to visit local families in need of support.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

What happened in Borodianka?

“Borodianka suffered a lot from occupation during the very first days of the war,” explains Liudmyla, as she walks through the town. “We’re where the first bomb raids happened. People died here.”  

Following brutal Russian airstrikes, an estimated 90% of residents in Borodianka were forced to evacuate their homes. Several never got the chance. For Liudmyla, this came all too close to home. 

“My family died in one of those buildings. But I’m able to get by thanks to the support of my team.” 

Pictured with her team near a bombed-out building, Liudmyla lost her loved ones due to Russian airstrikes on Borodianka.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Liudmyla led her Mobile Team into the town the day after it’d been liberated, immediately working to help the community recover. 

“We came beaten ourselves, having suffered losses. A lot of losses,” she says. “But we came together, joined our strength, and have been together ever since. It’s a necessity for us. It’s our lives.”  

How does the Mobile Team work?

Firstly, the Mobile Team provides essential humanitarian support. They offer emergency food, blankets, clothing and medicine to children and families in crisis. 

“Our team is special because we react directly to what’s relevant and needed in each family,” says Liudmyla. “People are different, and their needs are different too. Each time we go on a trip, we talk to people and we ask them what they need.” 

Next, they start providing psychological support. They work with community leaders to identify struggling families. Then, they set up safe spaces in centrally-located buildings, where people can come and get the help they need.  

One safe space they set up was in a community library. The team organised a range of activities like play and art therapy to help children relax and release anxiety. 

A member of our Mobile Team running an art therapy class for traumatised children in a community library in Borodianka, Ukraine.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

“We’re trying to prevent a mental health crisis among families and children of Ukraine, explains Liudmyla.  

While the children were expressing themselves through creativity, the rest of the team ran group therapy sessions for their mums. 

Our Mobile Team staff running group therapy sessions for local mums in a community library in Borodianka.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

The team’s specialists also provide rehabilitation therapy and speech therapy, as well as vital practical support, such as helping parents restore lost or destroyed documents, apply for benefits, enrol their child in school or nursery, and access medical care. This is especially important for families who are displaced or whose doctors have left the country because of the war.

Why is psychological support so important for children affected by the war in Ukraine?

For families and children living through war, the experience of violence, displacement and death is traumatic.

“The communities we work with are often those who are going through a trauma for the second time. We were just working with a community who’d already been relocated after the Chernobyl disaster.” 

Trauma can damage a child’s development, resulting in psychological stress that lasts a lifetime. Similarly, it can push parents to breaking point, meaning they’re no longer able to meet all their children’s needs. 

As Liudmyla says: “Without the support from Hope and Homes for Children, such families that we work with may lose their core and fall apart.” And when that happens, children are at risk of being placed inside Ukraine’s vast system of orphanages. That’s why we help families living through crisis. 

Families like Tina’s*.

Tina and baby Serhii welcoming our Mobile Team as they arrive, Ukraine.
Tina (right), with baby Serhii*, and her mum, Lilia* (left). Russian troops shot Tina’s fiancé when she was pregnant with their unborn child.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

Tailored support for families like Tina’s 

After Russian troops occupied their village near Borodianka and killed Tina’s fiancé, leaving her to raise their unborn baby all alone, Tina’s family spent seven weeks in hiding. When they returned, Liudmyla’s team gave them all the essentials they needed to recover from the occupation– including psychological support for the whole family. 

“With psychological support, you become stronger,” says Lilia*, Tina’s mum. “You find the strength to go on, to somehow continue living because you need to support your kids. The help from the Mobile Team was so important to me. Probably to all Ukrainian people.”  

Thanks to our team, Tina’s now doing much better. Through therapy, she’s overcoming her trauma and supported to raise baby Serhii all by herself. “Our work makes families, children and communities stronger,” explains Liudmyla. “Together, this prevents children from being institutionalised.” 

A ‘thank you’ from Liudmyla and the team 

Liudmyla’s is just one of 19 Mobile Teams we’re operating across Ukraine. Thanks to your donations, they have supported 20,741 children from 14,072 families

“What we and our partners in other areas do is so incredibly important, as it helps communities recover from the war,” Liudmyla explains.   

“We’re happy that we have the opportunity and resources to help people and improve their lives no matter what. Together, we’re creating a community of strong and successful people who help others to survive and develop their communities.”  

Our Mobile Team getting ready for another day of supporting children in Borodianka.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Hope and Homes for Children

“I want to tell every person who’s helped Hope and Homes for Children that your work and your help were not for nothing. Your help has been a breath of fresh air and brought hope for life for our people. Be happy that you can provide this support, as it’s truly helping us strengthen families here in Ukraine.”  

Will you help our Mobile Teams keep providing urgent support to children living through war?

Donate today and help bring hope back to family.  

*Names changed to ensure the safety and privacy of the people we support