Healing touch

In the Kharkiv region, Medair restores homes and brings hope.

In recent years, numerous villages in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region have endured relentless conflict, leaving a trail of destruction: demolished homes, shattered windows, and roofs torn apart. Yet, amidst this tragic aftermath, Medair’s efforts have provided hope and inspiration for affected individuals, empowering them to rebuild their lives.

During a visit to one of the villages where Medair rehabilitated homes, led by Patricia Gomez, Senior Shelter and Settlements Advisor, met with Iryna, a resident. She shared her harrowing experience of living through the conflict.


Iryna, 54 years old, a Ukrainian community member, stands in her courtyard. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

“It was very frightening. I started to panic. At that time, my mother was 90 years old and bedridden. We couldn’t take her to the basement during air raids, so only my children and grandchildren went down there. My mother had already lived through one war, and we were afraid to tell her that another war had started because it would be a severe psychological trauma for her,” Iryna recalled with tears in her eyes.

On March 8th, 2022, Iryna’s town was bombed. The shockwave and debris shattered the windows of her house, knocked out the doors and damaged the roof. “After each shelling, my husband tried to cover the holes in the house with makeshift materials. Even though it was March, it was very cold, it was snowing, and water leaked into the house,” said Iryna.


Iryna’s house with replaced windows and repaired roof made by Medair. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Iryna, a social worker, and her husband couldn’t afford to properly repair their house with their modest income. “After the Medair team restored the windows and roof in my house, I felt a tremendous relief. We express sincere gratitude to your organization and everyone who helped us. It was impossible to repair the roof and windows properly on our own. Now, we can finally enjoy a full life in our own home and restore our well-being,” Iryna shared with gratitude.


Iryna stands smilling together with the Shelter and Infrastructure team in her courtyard. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Valentyna, another survivor of the conflict, echoed Iryna’s sentiments of renewal and strength. She felt rejuvenated as her house was restored. After the roof and windows were completely repaired, I felt like I was 40 years old again, instead of 73, she said, laughing.  


Valentyna, 73 years old, a Ukrainian community member, with a smile on her face joyfully meets Medair team near her house. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

As soon as I heard explosions and shrapnel fly into my house, I ran into the house and covered the windows with pillows. I had to spend about 7 months in the cellar. Whether I wanted to be there or not, it was my only means of survival,” Valentyna said.


Repaired roof of Valentyna’s house made by Medair. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Now, thanks to the restoration, she can save money and once again enjoy the warmth of her home. “When all my windows were broken, the temperature in the house was 16-17 degrees, even though I turned the heating to the maximum. Now it’s 23 degrees in the house, and I don’t have to waste any more money on heating,” Valentyna shared.


Valentyna, 73 years old, sits together with Patricia Gomez, Senior Shelter and Settlements Advisor at Medair. They talk about how Valentyna’s life has changed for the better after the repairing of her house. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Valentina thanked the Medair team and especially Vasyl Kurchenko, Senior Infrastructure Officer at Medair, for not abandoning her during this difficult time.

“Medair staff – and Vasyl in particular – were there for me, and a huge source of strength and kindness in what were the worst moments of my life. My strength has come from their unshakable devotion, and I will always be grateful for it. They offered more than simply support during a difficult time; their help had a deep emotional impact on me. Thank you, Medair, and thank you Vasyl; your commitment and generosity were invaluable,” said Valentyna.


Valentyna stands with Medair’s team expressing her gratitude for work done with her house. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

It is important to remember that such assistance not only restores homes but also gives people the motivation to overcome difficulties and rebuild a life. Each repaired home is a step towards restoring dignity and a normal life for those who lost everything due to armed conflict. Medair continues to contribute to community rebuilding and helps people believe in a brighter future.


Replaced windows in Valentyna’s house made b y Medair.©Medair/Diana Mukan


Basement in which Valentyna spent 7 months, hiding from missile attacks and occupation of her village. ©Medair/Diana Mukan


Iryna breeds geese and chickens in her courtyard. ©Medair/Diana Mukan


Medair services in the east of Ukraine are funded by Swiss Solidarity, the German Federal Foreign Office, IF! Foundation, Alborada Trust and other donors.

All photos ©Medair / Diana Mukan

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed here are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.