Stories from the field
These stories highlight the experiences of healthcare workers and civilians living in Ukraine, fleeing to safety and in neighbouring countries providing refuge.
Tetiana Freishyn has been a nurse for 17 years, and with the outbreak of the war, she fears for her life and opens up about the psychological burden of choosing to stay in an unsafe place. On international nurses day, she shares a message of peace. read more (1)
"No one should have to be a nurse during a conflict, and I wish for all nurses to be able to go to work with joy. The healthcare profession is a peaceful one, and I hope that we can all go to work peacefully."
Martyna, a midwife in Poland, works in a unique midwifery-led birth centre. She and her colleagues care for Ukrainian mothers and newborns. Martyna is also involved with a local volunteer association; they package and send birth kits to women in Ukraine who may have to deliver their babies in a shelter or basement. The birth kits contain instructions for people with no medical experience on how to help a woman in childbirth. read more (2)
Olha, Andriy, and Lidiya, healthcare workers
"All of us, as a team, have gone into emergency mode to be able to provide assistance when needed."
Healthcare workers Olha, Andriy and Lidiya share how they have adapted to working in their respective hospitals in wartime. They employ different methods in demanding times to support and protect their patients. read more (3)
"We comfort them as much as we can, holding their hands, giving them a hug" Maria Răpciugă, a community nurse now working at a refugee centre in Romania, shares her experience caring for Ukrainian refugees and the problem of language barriers. read more (4)
"They need some sort of psychological counselling to support them in their language."
Maria, business owner
"We were never in need before. We had a good standard of living... now we are forced to leave."
Maria Bilovodska, a successful business owner of a fashion brand back in Kyiv, Ukraine, reflects on how her life has taken a turn as she sits in the registration centre of Hungary's Beregsurány border crossing point. read more (5)
Anna, emergency responder
Anna, an emergency responder with the Spanish red cross, watches a refugee take meticulous care of two plants that survived the missiles in his garden back home in Kharkiv, Ukraine and the journey to Hungary. He calls them 'hope plants'. Ana understands its importance to his well-being and says,
"We can never
will be okay…
but we do whatever we can
to nurture seeds of hope."
read more (6)
Olga, child protection specialist
A photo essay by Juan Haro and Jason Miks tells the story of Olga, a child protection specialist helping fleeing mothers and their children cope with trauma, loss, and an uncertain future. read more (7)
Szilárd, mental health support worker
Szilárd Kovács works for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) team in Hungary and shares how they support the mental health of arriving refugees. read more (8)
Tatyana, child protection officer
Tatyana Fannouch, a Child Protection Officer in Ukraine, shares her experience of daily life and how the devastating conflict has impacted her professional and personal life. read more (9)
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) features letters from people to refugees who have shaped their lives. Here, Oliwier shares a heartwarming letter to his friend Nazar, a refugee he and his family hosted in Poland after fleeing the war. read more (10)
Pieter, senior mental health officer
"I was on the edge, not wanting to live."
Maryana shares her story of psychological trauma living in a war zone. read more (12)
Sarah, CARE's global emergency team member
read more (13)
"People who I met by chance, and all they wanted to do was help."
Darina, a heavily pregnant mother-to-be, shares the story of her journey from Kharkiv, Ukraine, to Bulgaria. read more (14)
- World Health Organisation."We risk dying when going to work” – Ukrainian nurse shares her message on Nurses’ Day [Internet]. May 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.who.int/ukraine/news/item/12-05-2022-we-risk-dying-when-going-to-work----ukrainian-nurse-shares-her-message-on-nurses--day
- World Health Organisation. How Polish midwives help Ukrainian women fleeing their homes [Internet]. May 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.who.int/ukraine/news/item/04-05-2022-how-polish-midwives-help-ukrainian-women-fleeing-their-homes
- World Health Organisation. Battling to protect their patients: how health workers from 3 Ukrainian hospitals have adapted to working in wartime [Internet]. April 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.who.int/ukraine/news/item/01-04-2022-battling-to-protect-their-patients-how-health-workers-from-3-ukrainian-hospitals-have-adapted-to-working-in-wartime
- World Health Organisation. ‘Running for their lives, without even a toothbrush’ – a community nurse at a refugee centre in Romania shares her experiences [Internet]. March 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.who.int/ukraine/news/item/09-03-2022-running-for-their-lives-without-even-a-toothbrush-a-community-nurse-at-a-refugee-centre-in-romania-shares-her-experiences
- Relief Web. Hungary: the importance of mental health and psychosocial support to refugees and displaced people – one mother’s story of a life upended through the Ukraine war [Internet]. March 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/hungary/hungary-importance-mental-health-and-psychosocial-support-refugees-and-displaced
- IRFC. "He called them hope plants": Supporting people's mental health in the Ukraine crisis [Internet]. July 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.ifrc.org/article/he-called-them-hope-plants-supporting-peoples-mental-health-ukraine-crisis
- UNICEF. “My place is here” [Internet]. May 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/stories/my-place-here-ukraine
- International Organisation for Migration. “Even Just a Few Words Can Help”: Addressing the Mental Health of War-Affected Ukrainians in Hungary [Internet]. August 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://storyteller.iom.int/stories/even-just-few-words-can-help-addressing-mental-health-war-affected-ukrainians-hungary
- UNICEF. War in Ukraine - "For four days I was working from the basement" [Internet]. May 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/careers/stories/war-ukraine-four-days-i-was-working-basement
- UNHCR. To the refugee friend I shared so many adventures with [Internet]. November 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/stories/refugee-friend-i-shared-so-many-adventures
- UNHCR. Q&A: Far from being traumatized, most refugees are 'surprisingly resilient' [Internet]. January 2017 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/stories/q-far-being-traumatized-most-refugees-are-surprisingly-resilient
- UNHCR. Millions in eastern Ukraine endure invisible wounds of war [Internet]. October 2019 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/stories/millions-eastern-ukraine-endure-invisible-wounds-war
- Relief Web. Six months on in Ukraine: Brutal mental health toll must not be overlooked, warns CARE [Internet]. August 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/ukraine/six-months-ukraine-brutal-mental-health-toll-must-not-be-overlooked-warns-care
- World Health Organisation. While heavily pregnant, Darina fled from Ukraine to Bulgaria, where many hands guided her towards critical health care [Internet]. October 2022 [cited 2023 January 14]. Available from: https://www.who.int/ukraine/news/item/20-10-2022-while-heavily-pregnant--darina-fled-from-ukraine-to-bulgaria--where-many-hands-guided-her-towards-critical-health-care