Ukraine two years on: Women in crisis rebuild their lives

Halyna in Ukraine

23 February 2024


February 24th marks two years since the escalation of conflict in Ukraine. The ongoing war has brought unprecedented challenges, with nearly four million people internally displaced and almost 720,000 in the worst-affected parts of the country left with no access to adequate and safe housing.

Thanks to the generosity of supporters to the DEC Ukraine Appeal, CARE has been able help over 1.2 million individuals affected by the conflict in Ukraine, providing them with essentials for survival.

Ukraine crisis response

Help make sure CARE can be there when disaster strikes

Donate today

Image: A refugee from Ukraine receives a CARE package. Natia Nadirashvili/CARE Caucuses

Adapting to life on the frontline

In the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, more than 3.3 million people are living close to the frontlines. Daily they endure the harrowing reality of shelling and scarcity, with many confined to cold, dark basements, facing the constant threat of violence and displacement.

"People on the frontline tell us that their lives have become a lottery, because they don't know if they will live or die in the next hour. They only go out for short distances and only for vital activities like collecting water, supporting their elderly relatives or buying medicine or bread," says Franziska Joerns, CARE Ukraine Deputy Country Director.

CARE works in Ukraine with 21 partner organisations, supporting women, their families and their communities to rebuild their lives while adapting to the reality of living through an ongoing crisis.

Repairing homes after destruction

RS110283_Sviatohirsk - Olga dog

Image: Olga with her dog, Sandra. CARE/Sarah Easter

In Sviatohirsk, 80% of the buildings are damaged or destroyed after active fighting. There is no running water and the whole area is full of mines. Olga, 60, had to live in her external basement – a dark damp space - for 100 days with her husband and pets.

“That is where we survived, my husband and I and our two dogs and two cats, which are like children to us. We did everything to save them.”

The ceiling of her living room was repaired and a broken window replaced by a CARE partner – one of 40 houses that have been repaired in the town with another 325 is in process.

“We are very grateful for the support and try every day to go back to a state of some normalcy after all that has happened. I am very glad that we survived.”

Before the escalation of the war two years ago the village and surrounding settlements were home to 12,000 people. Now just 2,700 remain.

Communication in crisis

Lena, Ukraine

Image: Lena in front of a community centre supported by CARE. CARE/Sarah Easter

Lena, 40 years old, has a hearing impairment – as do the rest of her family. She is a local leader in an association for around 60 people with hearing impairments in Pokrovsk and surrounding settlements in Eastern Ukraine. Everyone in Ukraine knows to seek shelter quickly when they hear an explosion, but for those that cannot hear them, Lena and others have a solution.

Those who can hear a little or can feel the vibrations or see the smoke send a bomb emoji in our group chat or just ‘Boom’ so everyone knows they need to find shelter immediately.”

Without a stable income, Lena tries to sell everything her family does not need – including her washing machine and TV. Along with her friend Sviatlana, Lena has received a hygiene kit distributed by a CARE partner that includes towels, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and detergent.

Read Lena's story

The psychological impact of war

The pervasive lack of security, stability, and control in Ukraine has given rise to a myriad of psychological challenges. While addressing basic needs is imperative, it is equally crucial to prioritise psychological well-being to restore a sense of harmony amidst the chaos of conflict.

As Franziska Joerns emphasises, "Healing from those traumas will require more than just a year or two; it necessitates long-term support for the people of Ukraine."

Olena, Ukraine

Image: Olena at a women's space in Zaporizhzhia. CARE/Sarah Easter

Olena, 48, fled 100km from her home with her husband and seven-year-old daughter, leaving her parents and in-laws behind. She visits a women’s space with her daughter run by a CARE partner in Zaporizhzhia on a regular basis. They come for psychological sessions and consultations to help them cope with anxiety and apathy.

“We learn to adapt to our new reality every day and in this space, we are like a family.”

CARE is now increasingly addressing psychological support, gender-based violence, conflict-related violence, housing rehabilitation, and women's leadership development in emergencies.

A new reason to hope

Nadia, Ukraine

Image: Nadia and Vicheslav with their baby daughter. CARE/Sarah Easter

After fleeing from their home in Kherson to Odesa, Nadia and her husband Vicheslav welcomed their baby daughter Myroslava – the first newborn in Odessa in 2024, born at 2:30am on January 1st.

“Odessa was heavily shelled at that time, and we were really scared when I started having contractions, but the hospital staff took very well care of us.”

Nadia lay on a bed in a dark corridor in a bomb shelter, while Vicheslav held her hand. Thankfully Myroslava was born healthy and without complications.

We are lucky. I cannot even imagine how other pregnant women who are still in Kherson do it. There is no infrastructure left and no medical facilities.” - Nadia

CARE and a partner organisation support the maternity ward in the hospital where Nadia gave birth, providing essential materials and training for the staff.

Your donations have helped to support those who are finding ways to survive as the bombing continues. Ukraine is just one of the many crises around the world which CARE teams are responding to. And when a crisis happens, we know that women are often the hardest hit. Will you donate today and help women change lives in times of crisis?

Donate today

CARE in Ukraine

Find out more about how CARE is responding in Ukraine

Read more

Latest news from CARE