Inside Ukraine: Two wars and the courage of a Ukrainian woman
Teary-eyed and deeply moved, Tetiana Pershyna hugged Liudmyla when she learned she came from her hometown in Luhansk region where she spent her childhood, that she left behind eight years ago. She said, “It was good to meet someone from my town. I miss it so much.”
She added, “But I live today. My favorite day is every day. Home is where I am, wherever God takes me. When we left Donetsk, I told myself there is a lot of work to do, I can contribute where I am. We need to move forward”.
“When our town was occupied during the 2014 war, it was a tough decision to leave”, she said, and added, “My daughter was then 12-years old, and we did not want her to grow up in fear and to see all the violence around her.”
For the second time in March 2022, the family again moved to Kyiv when the town they moved to, again got occupied. It was twice in her lifetime, she noted. “My husband Dmytro was sick but drove for five days as situation became very dangerous.”
Tetiana is an English teacher in Doneskt and worked with aid organizations SOS Childen’s Village and the Peace Corps. “When I heard that World Vision was hiring for humanitarian jobs, I immediately applied”, she added.
She now works as Humanitarian Accountability Officer, a job she considers as very crucial in making sure the relief assistance is in good hands and reaches the people we serve closely adhering to standards.
Home is where I am, wherever God takes me. When we left Donetsk, I told myself there is a lot of work to do, I can contribute where I am.
“I considered this job a blessing. I need to be able to reach out to so many Ukrainian women who are depressed with the war. A lot of our people need psychosocial support. It is not easy to lose your family members and the properties you built for years. Some cannot move on, and they need help”, she explained.
Tetiana considers any situation, no matter how difficult, an opportunity. “When I started working in World Vision, I met and learned from a lot of people I worked with. I saw this as a chance to highlight the needs and issues.”
She shared how she met a woman whose husband was taken as a hostage and was very miserable. “At first, I facilitated for her to avail of food kits from organizations helping the displaced, especially for her two children. Then I encouraged her to look for a job so she can stand on her own. After a few months, she called me that she is working and sounded very relieved.”
A UN report underscored "women-headed households in Ukraine were already more food insecure before the war, with 37.5 per cent of them experiencing moderate or severe levels of food insecurity".
She reflected how often people waste time and resources on things that do not really matter. “We only realize this when we lose those that are precious to us. We must value our time, our family, our faith.”
Her daughter Valeriia, now 19-years old, even hesitant to leave her parents, accepted a scholarship and left for Netherlands. “I am proud how strong my daughter is. She now works in a fast-food chain to support herself. But she looks forward to going home when this war is over and graduate from Kyiv University.”
Every Ukrainian woman prays and hopes for peace and stability of the country just like her, Tetiana said. “We are very family oriented. Ukrainians by nature are hardworking and very open minded. This war showed our courage and resilience.”
By Cecil Laguardia, Communications Director