Since the full-scale invasion began, many refugees have arrived in Novovolynsk (Volyn' oblast, Ukraine). The town is located close to the border — some refugees went further to Poland, but some chose to stay in Ukraine.

"> Teple Misto

Doing beyond possible: how Novovolynsk volunteers created a home for displaced people

Since the full-scale invasion began, many refugees have arrived in Novovolynsk (Volyn' oblast, Ukraine). The town is located close to the border — some refugees went further to Poland, but some chose to stay in Ukraine.

Firstly, the volunteer association of Novovolynsk started solving the basic priority tasks: helping people with registration and accommodation. Some teams cooked for refugees and took hot food to the border, where lines in the first days after the full-scale invasion stretched for kilometers, and people could wait for days to cross the border.

Pavlo Medina, head of the town's youth center "Novi Kryla" (“New Wings”), says:

“When the war started, virtually on the fifth or sixth day, my friends and I helped at the center that supports the refugees. We tried to be as much use as possible here, in the rear of the war. This decision was a call from the heart: as long as I am safe, I must do everything for the safety of those arriving.”

(Pavlo Medina – on the left)

The available accommodation options at that time could not take the number of people who arrived in the town daily. So the youth center, "Novi Kryla" (“New Wings”), turned to educational institutions for help — to create conditions for people to live in their dormitories. But simply moving people into former student rooms would not be enough.

Within the Shelter Ukraine program, the "Novi Kryla" (“New Wings”), a youth center in Novovolynsk organized support for several shelters, where almost 380 forcibly displaced people live, 160 of them are children from Kyiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kharkiv regions.

“The first thing we realized is that accommodation usable for students is not suitable for children or seniors. Probably, it became our biggest challenge — to provide people with comfort, to cover their needs,” Pavlo Medina notes.

They decided to set up shelters based on the dormitories of the Novovolyn Electromechanical College and the Center for Vocational Technical Education. Playrooms and study rooms have been set up in every shelter where there are children of younger age, schoolchildren, and students. For children, they also created an opportunity to spend time in the fresh air actively. Youth gathers around a co-working space that operates in the town center. Despite the war and the uncertain future, people do not stop learning, working, and exchanging experiences.

The "Novi Kryla" (“New Wings”), youth center has been working on social initiatives for a long time. To provide shelters, each team must have a division of roles and areas of responsibility. Five volunteers in the unit coordinate the development of the shelters. Each shelter also has its mini-team that communicates directly with people and responds to their needs. Some people negotiate with local businesses and farmers to supply food. Some speak with reps of state programs and local authorities about support. They help to provide and expand the capabilities of shelters. Other volunteer initiatives of the town rallied around the center's activities.

Pavlo says:

"Many volunteers in shelters work in the "My efforts aren't enough" mode, and thus exhaust themselves, burn out. It would be good to have highly specialized experts to enhance the team. For example, a psychologist would help both the team and the refugees. Cause our volunteers to do beyond possible."

Partnership and teamwork are the basis for the implementation of any project, especially when it comes to helping people. Pavlo Medina adds:

“You need to understand who will be with you in this boat, your strengths, and where you need reinforcement. The value of such projects is people.”


Read also: How Ivano-Frankivsk Drama Theater became a headquarters of help to the war victims 


Note: The “Shelter Ukraine” project supports social initiatives that solve the humanitarian problems of the civilian population in conditions of war. Since February 28, the initiative has helped more than 22,000 Ukrainians. Together with our partners, we have already equipped 71 shelters, having purchased the necessary household appliances, bedding, personal hygiene products, and medicines. You can find out more using the hashtag #shelterukrainecampaign.

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