Borys* returned to his native village in Vinnytsia Region last year. Alas, this was not an ordinary return to his roots, as he had to flee from conflict in Luhansk Region where he had lived for almost 40 years. He used to chair a public utility company and also had his own business producing fencing and tombstones. When the conflict in Eastern Ukraine started, Borys had to quit his job and shut down his small business. “My car was the only thing I was able to take with me,” he says.
He is currently staying with his sister’s family and renovating a village house he has bought next door. “This place was abandoned for 15 years,” he explains as we walk through the construction site to see his future sauna and a garden which still needs some tree cutting and cultivation. The renovation is ongoing, and a new front yard fence shines as a beacon for the whole village street. IOM supported Borys with building tools for his home renovation. Later, he attended a micro-enterprise training for IDPs, conducted by IOM partner NGO “Spring of Hope” within a Norway-funded IDP integration project, and successfully defended his business plan of producing tiles and paving stones. With an upcoming grant, Borys plans to start production when spring comes. “Tiles do not dry out properly in the cold,” he explains.
New home of Borys needs to be completely renovated
Borys immediately became a popular person in the village, since he started training local children in martial arts. He used to have 22 students, but as training is not easy, only 13 children remain in the group. Their parents pay Borys a symbolic fee of UAH 50 per month, and this also keeps children motivated to attend training.
“I did my army service in East Germany at the beginning of the 1970s,” Borys tells us. “Then I started dreaming of ‘building Europe’ in Ukraine, in Luhansk Region. Now, in my 60s, I am finally able to live my dream by refining this plot here near Vinnytsia. A man always needs to have a dream. It helps you to keep pushing forward,” he says.
*The name has been changed to protect privacy