Vinnytsia — Last year during the power blackouts, caused by the Russian attacks on the Ukrainian energy grid, the residents of “Podillya” comprehensive rehabilitation centre in Vinnytsia were essentially trapped inside. When the electricity went out, those relying on wheelchairs were effectively stranded as the elevator was not operational. Moreover, critical amenities like stoves, heating and hot water were non-functional during these power outages.Thanks to the generators IOM has recently delivered, the centre will now have additional sources of heating and electricity during the upcoming cold season. 

Delivery of generators to the "Podillya" Rehabilitation Centre| Photo: Maryna Orekhova, IOM

"We hope we won't need it, but in case of an emergency, we are now prepared. We have our own gas boiler room, kitchen, dormitory, rehabilitation rooms with equipment - but all of this requires electricity. I hope this winter will be much easier and we will be able to provide rehabilitation services without interruption," said Roman Shtohryn, the director of the centre.

Now the centre is home to 56 people with disabilities, including displaced people. According to IOM, around 6 per cent of registered displaced people around the country have a disability status.

Roman Shtohryn, director of the "Podillya" Rehabilitation Centre | Photo: Maryna Orekhova, IOM

Apart from providing generators, IOM has also equipped the kitchen for displaced residents with all the necessary equipment, and installed inclusive bathrooms for people who use wheelchairs.

One of these residents is Kyrylo from Bakhmut.  A year ago, he survived a severe shrapnel wound to his back during one of the shelling attacks on his city. Now, he lives in the "Podillya" Rehabilitation Centre with his elderly mother, along with other displaced people who lost their homes.

Kyrylo, originally from Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine, now lives in Vinnytsia in a rehabilitation centre | Photo: Maryna Orekhova, IOM

Kyrylo is undergoing rehabilitation and hopes to regain his ability to walk on his own:

"The doctors said it is possible. It just takes time and long-term rehabilitation. We have to keep living our lives," says Kyrylo.

Before the full-scale invasion and his injury, Kyrylo worked as a construction worker, and his retired mother, Liudmyla, earned extra money by selling vegetables at the local market. The family had their own home and a quiet life. The war took away both. Now the family relies on social benefits with a significant portion dedicated to Kyrylo's medical expenses.

Liudmyla, finds solace in knitting while holding onto hope for her son’s improved health | Photo: Maryna Orekhova, IOM

According to the latest IOM survey, 19 per cent of displaced people seeking to integrate in communities in larger cities and suburban areas reported struggling to cover basic needs.

As winter approaches, the burden of preparing for the potentially challenging cold season, including acquiring independent power supplies, lanterns and warm blankets can be financially burdensome for families, like Liudmyla and Kyrylo. IOM, together with its partners, is dedicated to ensuring that displaced people have access to basic necessities during the upcoming cold season, such as independent power supplies, namely generators. It is through such collaborative efforts that we can move closer to a world where every person, regardless of their circumstances, can feel secure and supported. 

The article was written by Maryna Orekhova, IOM. 

SDG 9 - Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure