For the past 8 months, Zakarpattia in the west of Ukraine has been the safest area in the war-torn country. For this reason, it is not surprising that tens of thousands of internally displaced people have found refuge and safety here and continue to do so in surges as military operations intensify. But security is nothing without a place to stay, without accommodation that is able to provide privacy and the conditions needed to live a dignified life allowing for a new start. With the support of Act Alliance – a coalition of church-based aid organisations – Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) is working on two projects that will provide modern housing for hundreds of IDPs as the bitter cold sets in.
“It is always easier to build from scratch than to renovate,” says János Gerevich, head of HIA’s branch office in Ukraine, pointing out the painstaking work required to bring a “dead building” back to life. HIA has taken on the daunting task of renovating a dormitory abandoned nine years ago to provide modern housing for some two hundred IDPs.
The former dormitory building of the Cooperative Technical School in Vynohradiv was left to rot for nine years, the institution, abandoned for almost a decade, was slowly but surely being eaten away by decay. With decades of experience in developing social institutions, HIA confidently stepped up to the challenging task and launched a full renovation of the three-storey dormitory in August. Meticulously and step by step, it is bringing back life into the derelict building: reinforcing and re-coating the crumbling walls, replacing the plumbing, heating and electricity systems, plasterboarding the future living quarters for refugees and, where necessary, cleaning the walls back to brick level to provide a worthy and safe home for those in need.
With similar intensity and with the support of its partner, Christian Aid, HIA is working on the construction of a new maternity home. Through its efforts, the small house with crumbling walls will soon turn into a modern, insulated and heated home for four single mothers and their several children who had fled the war to the relatively safe Zakarpattia.
Being aware that Ukraine is facing a cold and dark winter, HIA is determined to provide safe shelter to as many vulnerable people as possible before the bone-chilling frost sets in. To this end, it has extended its assistance to many parts of the country, and is stepping up its efforts to help prepare for winter and alleviate the emergency caused by the disruption of energy supplies.