Ukraine – June 11 2018

Rebuilding family ties

Anne, her husband Oleg and her 12-year-old son Vladimir* left the conflict-stricken area of Luhansk, Ukraine, in 2014. Although they left the unrest far behind, they did not find the peaceful life they had hoped for.

The relocation put a lot of strain on the family, as it did on thousands of others who fled the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Unemployment, limited household resources and the lack of a community network in their new place affected both the parents and the son emotionally. Through individualised support for all family members, they started to recover.


After the family left Luhansk, Oleg could not find work, which drove him into depression. Anna became the single breadwinner and worked long days. Her son was also struggling with the changes. Anna says that Vladimir would often cry. “I was losing my connection to my son. I saw us all drifting apart and it scared me.”

The young mother knew they desperately need help, but in a city where they had no friends or relatives she did not know where to turn. Then, she got another work offer in Kiev and the family moved again. Vladimir did not want another change and reluctantly went along.


In Kiev, the family found out about SOS family strengthening support.

“I wanted my son to see a psychologist, but we couldn't afford it," says Anna. "When I learned that in SOS Children's Villages we could all receive psychological counselling, I almost started crying.”

Both Anna and Vladimir immediately had psychological counselling. In addition, the family received necessary in-kind help such as food, hygiene, clothes and school stationary. Vladimir enrolled to the programme's computer class where he became one of the most regular attendees.


For computer class, Vladimir would often consult his father, an IT engineer. His knowledge and skills made the boy stand out among his peers. He started to help the little children in the class. Vladimir's self-confidence was back and with it came success. He made an effort to fit in at school and he became one of the best students.

Seeing the positive changes in his wife and son, Oleg joined the programme's classes and groups as well. The young father began attending the financial literacy course, while the entire family began attending family art therapy sessions where they were encouraged to think of a way of spending quality time together.


Oleg says that in the programme he realised that the traditional family roles are overrated. This acceptance was his breakthrough. “My self-esteem came back,” Oleg says. “I started to believe again that I can make a difference for my family.”

Anna and Oleg single out their son's adaptation and acceptance of their new life as their biggest gain from the family's inclusion in the programme of SOS Children's Villages. Vladimir still longs for his home city, but is making plans for continuing his education in Kiev. 

(*Names changed for privacy protection)

Photos: Katerina Ilievska

Anna, Oleg and Vladimir were supported though:

  • Psychological counselling and family art therapy
  • In-kind help such as food, hygiene, clothes and school supplies
  • IT classes for Vladimir, financial literacy classes for Oleg