• Yuliia Homonets | Communication Assistant

Kyiv — It's early May but it already feels like summer. Inside the building we meet a grandmother slowly and carefully going down the stairs, while the youngest residents quickly run out into the yard to join their friends at the new playground.   

The IOM team visited a dormitory on the outskirts of Kyiv, currently housing more than 300 displaced people, most of them are from Luhansk and Donetsk regions, but there are also families from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. 

IOM helped to set up a playground with a Swedish wall, swing, crosstrainer, sandbox and table tennis on the lawn in front of the dormitory. 

Children living in an IDP dormitory play on a new playground installed by IOM. Photo: IOM/Yuliia Homonets

At the playground, we met Olena, displaced from Lysychansk, who brought her 5-year-old daughter Renata to play with other children: 

"When we first left Lysychansk, Renata was very scared. She wouldn’t sleep at night, she would be crying — we had spent 45 days in the basement before we left. Over time, she began to feel better. She now runs around, laughs, sleeps well when there are no air raid alarms," says Olena. 

Olena and her daughter Renata at the new playground. Photo: IOM/Yuliia Homonets

Olena and other residents of the dormitory say that activities for children significantly increased recently: events, workshops, excursions and a new playground. 

Nevertheless, Olena, like many other parents, cannot shake off her constant anxiety and worries about her daughter's safety: 

"It’s reassuring that the playground is within the territory of the dormitory, it is fenced and safe — I can let Renata play alone. Before, we used to go for a walk in the park and I was very worried, I was constantly with her, because crossing the road to get there posed risks, especially during air raids," Olena shares. 

Renata and her mother at the playground. Photo: IOM/Yuliia Homonets

The dormitory feels like one big family. Tetiana Oleksandrivna, the manager of the facility, told us that more than 80 children currently live here, including newborn babies, as some young families have been living here for more than two years. 

Tetiana Oleksandrivna, the manager of the dormitory, talks to the IOM team. Photo: IOM/Yuliia Homonets

Olha, from Bilohorivka, Luhansk region, has been living with her family in the dormitory since January of this year. She watches her younger daughter, Anhelina, draw and hang out with friends: 

"The biggest thing that bothered me was the lack of a playroom where children could spend their time and have fun. It's good that there is now a playground outside. It's already warmed up and the weather allows kids to spend more time outdoors," says Olha.

Anhelina has epilepsy and is undergoing treatment. At first, the girl refused to go outside, her mother says.  "But over time it changed. Today, she dragged me out because she wanted to draw with other children. She began to open up to other people, and such initiatives help a lot," Olha said. 

Angelina and other children at a drawing workshop organized by the residents of the dormitory. Photo: IOM/Yuliia Homonets

Olha and Anhelina came to the event wearing traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts — vyshyvankas: 

"This is our amulet. These shirts were given to us by a woman from Lysychansk when we were still at home and delivering aid to the frontline. Unfortunately, the woman passed away, but her memory lives on with us, including in the form of these embroidered shirts." 

Olga and Angelina wearing their vyshyvankas at a drawing workshop. Photo: IOM/Yuliia Homonets

The playground was installed as part of a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance. Previously, IOM supported the dormitory with non-food items, replaced windows and improved access to decent hygiene conditions. 

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions