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Cash in a crisis

01 June 2023, Impact of Our Work

“My children are heroes to me. Of course, they were very scared. Even now, if there is an explosion, they hide immediately.” Vira*

When the conflict began in the Ukraine in February 2022, Vira and her children - 11-year-old Marria* and nine-year-old Serhii* - hid in terror in the cellar of their house. The little family did not have a car so could not evacuate like other families were doing. 

Prior to the invasion Vira would commute to Kyiv to work at her office job, but with the country in turmoil she found herself unemployed and struggling to find ways to feed her children. In this dire situation, Vira never thought a transfer of cash from Save the Children would be the life altering solution she needed.

The struggle to return to life after conflict

The young family live in a small regional town and options for work were very limited for single mother Vira after losing her job in Kyiv. She was eventually able to find some work assisting at a local dairy farm which also meant that she could provide her children with milk and a little bit of meat. 

Otherwise, she kept her children fed with vegetables from her garden and a small store of preserved foods she had saved in her cupboard. When the conflict began the family also lost a lot of their household items such as their kettle, phone chargers, phones tablets and clothes. Their house was damaged in the bombardment, and they did not have electricity or access to water, forcing Vira and the children to source their water from local wells.

Mariia near her house in the small village the family live in.

Rebuilding their lives

When the hostilities finally eased in her region, Vira tried applying for aid but it was difficult for humanitarian support to reach remote villages like hers. She had to rely on support from her neighbors who brought her food, hygiene items and other necessities. When she heard about cash support being provided by Save the Children, she was initially skeptical that she would receive the help she so desperately needed. But to her relief and surprise, within 8 days of applying for support, she received the money.

When I heard from school about the cash support, I was shocked. I could not believe it as I applied wherever possible but didn’t get anything. And here indeed a message comes in five days [after application] and the money comes in three days afterwards. I thought it was not possible.


What is cash support?

When emergencies happen, families can’t always access cash to buy necessities. Those impacted tend to know best what they need to survive in a crisis and transferring money to them can be one of the most dignified and effective ways to help assist people in these situations. The cash transfer is a grant, so the family does not have to pay the money back. And the cash is spent in local shops and to purchase the services of local tradespeople and suppliers, helping local economies bounce back.

Serhii is excited to be back at school now that he can access it online.

Return to school and having running water

For Vira and her children, the money could not have come soon enough. With the cash assistance from Save the Children she was able to install a water supply system into her house. So, the family no longer has to carry buckets of water long distances from the wells. She was also able to buy phones for her children so that they could access their schooling. The rest of the grant she used for food and family staples.

“The children are now studying remotely. It’s distance learning. When there was no shelling, children even went to school. Lessons were shortened a little, but they went to school. And now... No power. Everything rests on the shoulders of parents… My children are smart. My son is the pride of his school, he participates in all educational competitions. Now he is in the 4th grade, and for the past 3 years he was finishing every year with honors”

While life under conflict continues to have its struggles for Vira, Mariia and Serhii, the children can at least begin to have a sense of normalcy back in their lives connecting with their schoolmates and progressing with their education while Vira continues to work hard to rebuild their lives.

Vira and her children meeting with the Save the Children delegation in Ukraine.

Photos: Olena Dudchenko / Save the Children.

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