Finding joy in the midst of grief: Former schoolteacher now a humanitarian helping fellow Ukrainians

A loving mother, who was a former schoolteacher, shares her personal story of resilience and compassion, striving to prove that a happy life can be possible even after immense grief.

“All of a sudden, we heard loud explosions near the school where I was working. Together with other teachers and students, we rushed to the bunker. That’s how we met the war in Ukraine,” recalls Olha Pasynkova, a former Deputy Principal at a school in the Luhansk region.

Despite the fear and frustration, Olha had to flee her picturesque hometown which is still occupied. Together with her husband, they made the hardest decision in their lives to leave to protect their two young daughters.

Olha's dedication to educate and empower fellow Ukrainians of their rights is inspired by her commitment to do something for her hurting people.


“I didn’t want to believe it was true. My heart was crying when I saw my children making a video of our apartment in case this was the last time they were there,” says Olha.

Amid the chaos, Olha found strength within her family and the welcome embrace of World Vision. The diverse community provided a refreshing source of energy and purpose for her.

Olha's commitment to finding positivity, even in the darkest moments, became a guiding light even to people around her. This conflict taught her to cherish life's simplest joys and appreciate what they have.

“So many new people with different experiences, and backgrounds in life. It was like a taste of fresh water to me,” shares Olha.

No doubt I feel the same pain every day. But I am happy World Vision can support these people while they are hoping and waiting to come back home.

Olha Pasynkova’s life with World Vision started in September 2022 as a Safeguarding Officer, helping uphold people's rights, and ensuring their protection, safety and dignity.

“I feel honored because I can help those in need. While reading reports on how many people we have reached so far, I see a single personality behind those numbers. From a child in a summer camp to a teacher with a laptop, I witness the restoration of dignity and confidence” says Olha.

As an internally displaced person, Olha deeply understands the pain of those who fled their homes. She's inspired by the hope in their hearts as they dream of returning one day. World Vision's dedication to reaching those in need resonates with her, even in dangerous territories.

Training and capacity building of staff and partners allows Olha to empower more safeguarding champions.


“No doubt I feel the same pain every day. But I am happy World Vision can support these people while they are hoping and waiting to come back home,” explains Olha. During these challenging times, Olha's true spirit of humanitarianism came to the forefront.

Her unwavering commitment to education, community, and the well-being of others serves as a powerful reminder that even in the face of adversity, one person can make a significant and lasting impact on the world.

“No matter what challenges or obstacles life brings, we should do our best to keep going. Our strength is in our unity, so many people become volunteers to support and help those who are not able to cope with difficulties themselves,” says Olha.

Olha’s personal story is a perfect example of the humanitarian spirit living within us all. Through her actions, she encourages everyone to look beyond their own struggles and extend a helping hand to those in need, reminding us that the true essence of humanity lies in our capacity to care for one another.

Collaborating with partners to ensure the strict adherence to safeguarding principles also enable Olha to reach out and listen to the people's needs, especially women.


Story by Oleksandra Shapkina, Communications Officer I Photos by Eugene Combo and Christopher Lete, Communications Specialists