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Ukraine conflict: The volunteer staying behind

Many older people are unable or unwilling to leave their homes when a conflict strikes. Lyudmila*, who volunteers to help other older people with our partner HelpAge International, told us what it is like to stay behind in Ukraine.

"I have been living in this village since I was 12. I studied and worked here until 2014, when the war started. Since 2019, I have been working as a volunteer at HelpAge International.

I am staying because I’m taking care of my family: my son, and my parents who are over 80. I have no relatives to whom I could go, and there is no reason to. Where could I go if all this is happening all over Ukraine?

I have a brother, who lives in the Kyiv region with his family. It seems that they are nearby, but we have not seen each other for eight years. It is especially difficult and concerning when there is no way to talk by phone. They often don't have electricity.

The last two months have been extremely difficult. Looking at what is happening in such cities as Mariupol, Kharkiv, Volnovakha - seeing how the civilian population is dying - I am very scared for myself and for my family. I am constantly nervous and feel physically tense, worried about my child, my parents, my life.

It is terrible to lose everything – family, home, property. War has never brought anything good.

I hope that this conflict will be resolved in the near future. I believe in the best. Everything will be fine."

As the crisis unfolds, we are continuing to assess the most urgent needs of older people and helping them and their families with life-saving essentials such as specially tailored food packages, hygiene items, mental health support and counselling.

We have over 200 staff and volunteers from the local residents working in Ukraine, providing ongoing support to thousands of older people. Our priority is to keep staff and volunteers safe but in spite of living under constant fire during the conflict, the team is dedicated to responding to the needs of older people and their families affected.

*Name changed to protect her identity.

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Last updated: May 27 2022

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