Ukraine conflict: Olga's story
The impact of war is felt hardest on ordinary people, civilians, and of them older people are particularly exposed. Many like Olga, 71, are left feeling isolated, lonely, and without essential services and support they often can't reach places of safety and live in a state of constant fear.
Olga lives alone and five kilometres away from the conflict frontline. She lost her husband 14 years ago, and her son, grandchildren and great grandchildren live in the uncontrolled territory of Ukraine. Olga fears for their safety alongside her own.
Here she speaks to us about her lived experience of war in the last 8 years and shares some powerful words on Russia's recent assault on Ukraine.
I receive pension in the amount of 100 USD a month. My pension is my only source of income. I can't walk well, due to pain in my legs and joints. I suffer from high blood pressure and severe headaches.
I constantly hear explosions, and I don't know if they will reach me or not. I am very worried about the current situation with the Russian invasion. We lived normally until the 90s, both Russia and Ukraine, we were as one, we could normally travel to each other, and there were no barriers.
My opinion about the situation with the hostilities: this is disgrace and madness. What worries me most now is that I have been separated from my son. There is a checkpoint on the border. My son visits me very rarely, imagine how exhausting and dangerous it is for him to get through the checkpoint and get home.
My soul hurts for my loved ones. My grandchildren grow up without their grandmother's care. At least I have a mobile phone and can hear their voices.
Everyone needs peace and quiet: children, adults, and older people. I do not want to worry about the lives of my children and grandchildren, and about what will happen to me tomorrow.
The crisis in Ukraine had a very negative impact on my everyday life. The prices for gas, food, medicines have risen. My pension is very small, so I try to save money. I only buy the essentials. I receive a subsidy for housing and communal services, but it is constantly being reduced. I have to heat with firewood but it needs to be bought, chopped and put in a shed. I am not able to do this myself. I have to ask people and pay them for work.
We also have a problem in the village due to the closure of the post office. They promise that there will be a mobile post service, but this is new and unfamiliar to me.
My main needs are food and medicine. The store is very far from my house and there is no way to get there without a car. Thank God they deliver bread around the village and bring that directly to my house.
If a war breaks out, the only place to hide is the cellar. There is a bomb shelter at the local school, but it is four to five km away from us. If a big war starts, we will all help each other, as we will all be in the same circumstances, and we will decide together what to do and how to survive.
HelpAge helped me a lot morally and financially. Thanks to HelpAge volunteer Katya, I don't feel lonely and forgotten. I can always call Katya if I need help or information. HelpAge provided me with a good blanket, a large hygiene kit and Covid protection. I really need all this. With my small pension, I wouldn’t have been able to afford so many necessary goods.
Age International has been working through its partner HelpAge International to support the needs of older people in Ukraine since 2014. We've been supporting almost 5,000 older people in eastern Ukraine receive vital support through a network of volunteers and through a community of space spaces.
In the run-up to the conflict relief packages were distributed and our partners have upscaled our work to provide continued support for those in need.
Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal
Help provide life-saving support to older people and their families.