Natalia Shilova, manager of the IDP organisation, Balto, giving away hygienic products to elderly IDPs in Berdyans´k. Natalia is also a mother and a past instructor of commercial buildings in Donetsk, her family and Natalia relocated in Berdyans´k shortly after the conflict began. In 2015, Natalia realised the conflict was not going to stop and decided to build a team to support human rights. She went on a training to open Balto with a strong desire to help other IDPs.
IDP women registering and applying to receive supports from international organisations.
A mother registering as an IDP through the public organisation, Balto. While having no current economical support, Balto is responsible for registering IDPs in order to lead them to appropriate sponsors and plans. The public organisation builds a bridge between the IDP community and international organisations such as CARETAS, ADRA and CRIMEA SOS.
Receiving different supplies for basic needs such as clothing and hygienic products from international organisations. Balto stores everything that is donated in a local building. They are responsible to donate to each IDPs that have prioritised needs such as elderly and single mothers.
In the front Natalia manager of Balto with three other members of her team at their local office in Berdyans´k. The main team that runs Balto is composed of several IDP women, each of them who shares openly their tragic experience of the war in Donetsk.
Also named Natalia is an IDP member and part of the helping team of Balto. She shares her painful experience of the conflict while showing pictures of her house in Donetsk which was destroyed by shelling.
Other women who are part of the Balto team, sharing their painful story of the current conflict.
Alexander and his wife from Donetsk. After hearing bombing while walking in the park, they left their home back in 2014 at the start of the conflict for the safety of their 3 years old child. Both are disable. ”Before we were independent" says Alexander. "We did not ask for any support from anyone but since we fled from home we are obligated to ask for help, it is very hard to cross that line of becoming dependent on others"
In Berdyans´k, mothers have taken another responsible role within the IDP community. A rehabilitation center was also created 2 and a half years ago. Working along with Balto and with barely any financing, this center still manages to provide support. It offers various social and educational activities to mentally disabled IDP and local children between the age of 2 and 18.
“ Our goal is to provide support to IDP and local disabled children since there is none. We also try our best to integrate them with other local children” explains 36 years old manager and mother Veronica Grebenshikova. With 126 disabled children divided into 3 age groups, the center is open and holds activities and treatments from 9h00 to 13h00 daily.
With 23 mothers who are volunteering, many educational indoor and social outdoor activities such as horse riding, game play and social events are part of the program. “We would like to be able to do more”, says Veronika, manager of the center “unfortunately, we don´t have enough financial support at the moment."
IDP and local disable children together in a group activity.
"GIZ, a German organisation said they would provided us a playground for outdoor activities. There is one outdoor activity we would really like to be able to offer the children that is Dolphin therapy. Dolphin therapy has been proven to have a very positive effect on disabled children, unfortunately the aqua park is private here and the Ukrainian government does not recognise it as a proper method to get financial support for it.”
Drawings of IDP & local disable children in one the rooms of the 3 store building.
The center has only two old wheelchairs for the children which were donated.
On the third floor of the building, a clinic to treat children with oxygen cocktails for the brain. Many of the machines are old and in poor shape. Financial support or donations would be required to replace them.
A volunteered mother playing with the childre in one the playing rooms. All furnitures in the center were also donated by international organisations.
Tower block, the rehoused apartment of Viktor, Tania and her children in Berdyans´k.
Tania and her two children left their home city when the Russian/Ukrainian conflict started in the summer of 2014. Viktor, who is a 78 year old pensioner who worked for 40 years as a mine worker was her neighbour in Donetsk. Left alone by his family, Viktor had lost a leg working in the coal mine leaving him disable in the tower block they lived in. Tania went back to Donetsk to rescue him from the shelling. Viktor now lives with Tania and her two children in a rehoused, two room apartment in Berdyans´k. Viktor requires health treatments and medication which they do not have money for due to the low support of the Ukrainian government. "Even my family, my own sisters left me and this stranger took me in" Viktor exclaims in tears.
11 years old Anastasia, daughter of Tania and her 10 years old brother Denis playing with his IDP friends. The living room is turned into a bedroom. All beds are shared as they are not enough rooms for everybody to have their own separate room or bedroom.
Mother Anfisa (35), daughter Amira (13), grandmother Svitlana (70) and their dog Nora in their relocated 1 room apartment in Berdyans'k. The living room is also a bedroom where the three women sleep. Anfisa spends her days helping the local IDP organisation as well as searching various IDP plans or sponsors to provide her daughter and mother's needs. "It's a kind of survival" Anfisa shares " searching for different solutions to survive, all IDPs live like this. It's all about surviving and sometimes I wonder when my life can start".
IDP elderly woman artist & poet from Donetsk, in her relocated house in Berdyans´k. Her children are currently living outside donetsk in the conflict zone in Makiivka. They try to work as volunteers to feed people living underground from shelling protection.
Lena & her husband from outside Donestk. Lena is part of the main team of Balto, helping other IDP members daily. Her husband worked 40 year as a coal miner and lost both of his legs on the job. They both have been relocated in Berdyans´k since 2014 after tanks came close to their house. Their house have been destroyed by shelling since and they are both currently living on IDP support in a 1 rehoused room.
IDPs gather outside the Balto office on Friday morning. All hoping to be approve for medical coverage sponsorship from the organisation CARETAS.
Inside Balto´s local office in Berdyans´k. An IDP mother with her son & other elderly women are waiting to be seen by the CARETAS organisation to be approved for a medical coverage plan.
A view of the Berdyans´k city, Ukraine. A child is reaching out his hand to the window where he, his sister & single mother have been rehoused. Most IDPs wish to be able togo back home to the Donetsk region and live in peace. “To us it´s all the same, DPR or Ukrainian government, they are both checking us and we are not free, they are also taking money and homes away from people. Both sides are doing the same thing. So we just have one question, who created this war? who started this war? Who is earning money on our lives, playing games with our lives? who is earning money on our tears? no answers and people are suffering.”