“The 24th of February is a date I will remember for the rest of my life – I woke up at 6am to get ready for work and I heard an explosion, a sound like we’ve only ever heard in films.  It was impossible to describe the feeling – an animalistic fear, one that shakes you from the inside. You don’t know what to do except to run.”

These are the words of 39-year-old Mavka*, mum to eight-year-old Olesia*. She goes on recall running through the streets to reach the bomb shelter, seeing parents holding their children so they wouldn’t get lost in the chaos, and how they spent most of the next year living underground along with 300 other frightened people.

Father Vitaliy Novak, CEO of Depaul Ukraine, said:

“One year is a long, long time particularly for a child. Children have become isolated as they’ve lost their homes and can’t attend school. They’ve forgotten how to socialise and play. Children are too anxious to go outside, the playgrounds here are empty.”

Mum, Anna*, shares just how difficult life is for children in Ukraine:

“This is a time when [children] have to grow up so quickly. They have to understand things that a kid should not have to understand.”

Anna*’s husband is away on the frontline, in a town where the fighting is fiercest. He sees their five-year-old son, Misha, for just one or two days a month. Anna* says the explosions do not frighten Misha* as much as the fear of losing his father. “He is constantly asking me, “Will they kill him? Will he die?”

“When my husband was called up for service, Misha* hid under the table and said that he would not talk to anyone except his dad.”

Thanks to donations to our Ukraine Appeal, children like Misha* are getting the help they need to deal with their anxiety and sadness and learn how to be children again. Between September and January, 427 children and adults received psychosocial support from Depaul Ukraine’s expert team, but there are so many more children and families who need our help. Calls to our support hotline are currently 15 times higher than we can respond to.

We know that many people have already given generously, and times are tough for many people. But with the war entering its second year and showing no sign of stopping, we desperately need to be able to reach more children like Olesia* and Misha*.

Please consider a donation to our Ukraine Appeal so that the sounds of children laughing can ring out across the playgrounds of Ukraine once again.


For larger donations, please make a bank transfer where possible. To request our bank details, please email info@depaulinternational.org or call +44 (0)203 948 9872.

Our history in Ukraine

Depaul Ukraine is long established in the country, created in 2007 as a response to the growing numbers of homeless people and it is currently working in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa and Ivano-Frankivsk regions of the country.

Even without conflict, homelessness in Ukraine means temperatures as low as -20C, frostbite, deep snow, lack of access to medical care and, crucially, a loss of identity. The street homeless in Ukraine often have no ID, they are lost to the healthcare and government systems. Because of this, there is no official count of homeless people in the Ukraine, but it is estimated thousands of homeless people are dying every year. Find out more about Depaul Ukraine page here.

A maximum of 10% of the money we raise is spent on fundraising and running costs and the rest goes to work on the ground in Ukraine and to neighbouring countries who are delivering aid into Ukraine.