BEACON OF CHANGE

Olena, a chef from Luhansk, cooks 50 liters of borshch and 300 pancakes for lunch for 150 displaced persons currently staying at a collective centre in a village called Mayaki, or the Beacons, near Odesa. People from Luhansk and Donetsk regions started arriving here in June 2014. Since then, two babies have been born in the collective centre, and one couple celebrated their wedding here. The centre, which previously used to be a holiday resort for people affected by the Chornobyl disaster, now looks like a rural dormitory with a small kitchen garden and even a barnyard with pigs, goats, hens and a rabbit. A few cows spend their days at a pasture nearby. “All of us are city-dwellers, miners or businessmen. But here all these skills are not really practical, and we have to adjust to the new circumstances,” says Ihor, a leader of this IDP group.

Olena, a chef from Luhansk, supervises all cooking

 

Facing new realities was a painful experience for these people, many of whom have lost everything at home. With many children, medicine is al­ways an issue for the group, which has a nurse from Horlivka, Donetsk Re­gion, but is running out of funds to buy medicines and hygiene items as finding jobs is not easy for IDPs.

“In Donetsk I used to pay 150 hryvnias a day to temporary workers, and here in Odesa Region this is a very good salary for a qualified worker,” says Ihor. There are jobs available at a canning factory in the same district, but travelling there would be 50 hryvnias per day, leaving not more than 500 hryvnias, or 20 dollars, from a 1,300 hryvnia salary.

IOM, with funding from its donors and in cooperation with the local NGO Faith, Hope, Love supported this IDP community with furniture, matrasses, blankets, pillows, washing and drying machines, construction materials, and coal to get through the winter.

Washing and drying machines, provided by IOM, are frequently used

 

 

Bunk beds were provided by IOM to serve the needs of the IDPs with many children

 

Renovation works ongoing. IOM supported the IDP community with construction materials

 

Now Ihor and other IDPs are thinking how to be more self-reliant, earn their living and build a better future for themselves. They decided to try and develop business ideas in order to receive grants to implement their business plans within an IOM project. The results of the community’s business plan defense session should be available by the end of May.

One of their project ideas centers on building heated greenhouses for growing vegetables for consumption and for sale. “There is a greenhouse in every yard here, and we have to buy vegetables. It is quite obvious that we would be better off growing them ourselves,” says Ihor.

Another project of this community is to es­tablish slag stone production, also for their own needs and for sale. The IDPs are also looking for opportunities to buy a trac­tor to cultivate the land near the dormitory. A broiler chicken farm and an auto service sta­tion are two more plans developed by Ihor and his colleagues. “We have to start from some­thing, and then, hopefully, we will have funds to launch more business projects. For example, we could establish a hairdresser’s salon, but it will not be profitable here, so we would need to rent premises closer to the city of Odesa.”

The most ambitious plan is to build a cottage community near the current dormitory that would be able to host 50 families. IDPs from Don­bas realize that they are here for the long run.

 

Inhabitants of the community’s barnyard

 

 

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