Since the start of the war in Ukraine, countless individuals have been faced with the agonizing decision to abandon their homes, possessions, and basic necessities. These civilians have been forced to embark on harrowing journeys to seek safety within their own country, battling adversity every step of the way. Among them is Ivan, a 24-year-old resident of southern Ukraine, whose life took a dramatic turn on April 1, 2022.
“I found myself with no choice but to leave my family’s home and belongings behind. It was tough not knowing where I was going or how I’d get help,” Ivan explained.
He ended up in Ternopil, where a Baptist church welcomed him. Ivan’s journey from his hometown to Ternopil was a long one, lasting several days. The road was exhausting, and both Ivan and his fellow evacuees felt anxious about what would await them next. After one week at the church, Ivan was relocated to a village in Ternopil region, where he secured temporary accommodations within a collective center. It was tough, but tyoung man remained resilient.
“It was like a light was guiding me through the darkness. Finally reaching that safe place showed us that even when a journey is difficult and seems never-ending, holding onto hope can turn it into a story of resilience,” Ivan said.
Since the age of 9, Ivan has been in a relentless battle against diabetes, a condition that demands constant attention. Every day, Ivan must keep a close eye on his blood sugar levels and regularly inject himself insulin shots. But life took an even more challenging turn when Ivan learned that he would have to amputate his leg. Adapting to a new life without a limb was hard, especially being in an unfamiliar place. But Ivan’s determination only grew stronger.
“I was faced with an empty canvas, and though it was incredibly tough, I was determined to paint a new picture of my life,” Ivan recounted.
Ivan reached out to Medair in Ternopil for help. The team assisted him in applying for appropriate housing and provided him with essential items.
“With Medair’s swift action, I learned how to apply for housing assistance, turning my distant dream of a stable home into a cherished reality. Medair didn’t just provide money, they provided essential items and their unwavering support became my rock. Even in my toughest times, Medair never turned their back on me – they stood firmly by my side when I needed it the most,” shared Ivan.
He went on to explain, “The Medair team would often drop by for visits, delivering packages filled with food and other basic necessities. Some of their staff even brought glucose test strips for my blood sugar monitor from their own homes. These gestures of care went beyond the ordinary, showing how deeply invested they were in my well-being. It’s these actions that truly made a meaningful impact on my life.”
Being a young person with dreams, Ivan was set on moving forward and creating a happy life. His unstoppable determination showed when he got a temporary prosthetic leg to help him move. He worked hard and learned to walk with the new leg. He started enjoying life again, and adopted a more positive perspective of his challenges.”I saw people walking around, and I told myself, ‘If they can do it, I can do it too. I’m not just excited about walking though. I’m also thinking about my future dreams.”
With the prospect of receiving a permanent prosthetic leg soon, Ivan’s anticipation grows as he envisions a future full of possibilities. He hopes to find a job and enjoy all that life has to offer. But Ivan also wants to travel the world, experience different cultures and see the beauty of diverse landscapes. He also dreams of reuniting with his mother. Furthermore, Ivan hopes to inspire others facing challenges by sharing his story of resilience and determination. With each step he takes, both figuratively and literally, Ivan is determined to turn his dreams into reality.
“In the dormitory where I live now, I’ve discovered an incredible community of kind-hearted souls who walk by my side on this challenging journey. We’re more than just neighbours – we’ve become a tight-knit family, offering each other comfort and a sense of belonging in these trying times,” said Ivan.
Medair services in the west of Ukraine are funded by UNHCR and Swiss Solidarity.
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.