Surviving Adversity

Two stories of resilience, hope and survival

Sometime around 6 a.m., my nephew called me and said, Are you still sleeping? THE conflict has started. I shouted at my children to turn on the television to watch the news. I never thought I would experience something like this at my age. It was a terrifying shock. Nataliya vividly remembers the day the conflict in Ukraine engulfed her life. 


Nataliya, 66-years-old, Kyiv community member, stands near her house smiling. ©Medair/Diana Mukan.

The first few days were chaotic and unpredictable for Nataliya and the other members of her community in the Kyiv region. “There were enormous queues everywhere as we went shopping in the village, people were buying everything in sight,” said Nataliya. Foreign military convoys passed through their village on February 28th, 2022, as tanks fired at buildings. Near Nataliya’s house, a two-story home was completely destroyed. Life for this family became a never-ending fight for survival. “We all lived and slept in the cellar. At 5 a.m. every day, the rocket attacks began. It was incredibly challenging. We were so terrified that we couldn’t even open the front door; our hands shook. We eventually slept with the door open,” recounted Nataliya.


The roof of Nataliya’s house has been repaired by Medair. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Amidst the chaos, the village faced water, gas and electricity shortages. “On March 2nd, we lost water and power,” Nataliya explained. “Fortunately, there was a well not far from our house, so we gathered with neighbours to get water from there. We also melted snow to ensure we had enough water for various purposes. Because the local stores were closed, the food we had been hoarding quickly became a blessing,” she added.

Their escape from the village was a gift from God. “We left with our neighbour, who sensed danger and advised us to leave,” Nataliya recalled. “Later, others attempting to flee were stopped and even shot at. We escaped in an old Volga car, and that was the fastest it had ever gone in its 50-year history,” she added.

But in the midst of all the destruction, solidarity emerged. “Because our windows had been shattered by shrapnel, our neighbour stayed behind and boarded them up. The bakery, school, and library had all been bombed. Together with our neighbours, we pitched in as much as we could, going to each other’s houses to help however possible.” said Natalya, adding: “During winter, when snow fell, we made sure to cover our tracks, ensuring no one could see we had been there.”

We then moved on to meet with another community member, Tetyana, whose entrance gate was riddled with bullet holes. Looking at them, you can only imagine what the people living inside the house had experienced.


The gate leading to Tatyana’s house, which was shelled with weapons during the occupation of the village. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

“I was sitting on a bench in my yard one day when I heard the rockets whistling overhead. They were flying right above me, and fragments damaged the roof of my house and injured my head,” Tetyana explained.


Tatyana, 76-years-old, a resident of a village in Kyiv region, stands on her own field where she grows vegetables and fruits. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Tetyana’s community had to survive without power for a long time. Many homes had been badly damaged by the conflict, and families were struggling to make ends meet – let alone rebuild without financial and operational support. Luckily, Medair’s team was able to intervene quickly and help victims like Tetyana restore their homes to safety and liveability.

Medair was able to help repair Tetyana’s roof, offering her both shelter and protection from harsh weather conditions and winter’s cold snap. Now, Tetyana has a secure roof over her head, and her home has once again become a safe haven. It has also given her renewed hope for a brighter future once the conflict eventually subsides.


The roof of Tetyana’s house has been repaired by Medair. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

“Medair’s support has had a significant impact on my life, not only providing me with a secure and weather-resistant shelter but restoring my sense of security and well-being. This act of kindness didn’t just improve my living situation, but also restored my hope for a better future, reminding me that kindness and aid can make a difference in the lives of people in need. I will be eternally grateful for Medair’s outstanding help.” shared Tetyana with a gleam in her eyes.


Medair services in the north-central Ukraine are funded by Swiss Solidarity (CdB), the German Federal Foreign Office, IF! Foundation, Alborada and other donors. 

All photos ©Medair / Diana Mukan