Helping older people in the conflict zone


Luhanska oblast, Ukraine. Anna, 89 years old, lives in the village of Nyzhnioteple. For 36 years, she taught Russian and Ukrainian to school children. After her retirement, she grew vegetables in her garden and cared for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In 2014, when the conflict started in eastern Ukraine, the peaceful life she lived was shattered. She was left alone, as her relatives could no longer visit her because of the conflict.

“I do not leave the house. I could have moved to my son, but I do not want my house to be unattended. I am scared that the fighting will start again, and my children’s homes could be damaged. It is better that I stay here. Maybe my children will need this house to hide from shelling,” Anna says sadly, pointing at the basement where all of them used to hide.

Since August 2020, Mariia, a social worker, has visited Anna twice weekly to help around the house and keep her company. Her work, and that of others like her, is supported by a project implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council supported by the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund.

“I work with older people and people with disabilities. They need someone to help around the house and listen,” explains Mariia. “Children and grandchildren of those people left seven or eight years ago. Now, most of them cannot come.”

The NRC established a social services centre that provides home care services for about 140 people like Anna.

“I am in touch with Mariia all the time. Maria goes shopping, helps me pay utility bills and keeps me company. She also helped me sign the declaration with the family doctor so I can receive health-care services now,” Anna explains.

More information on the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund