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Ukraine: One Year On

Ukraine one year on: a helping hand in times of uncertainty

The conflict in Ukraine continues, but together we are making sure that children do not face this crisis alone. See your support in action.

"No child should have to live through what these children are growing up in,” says 33-year-old Inna Kokhanova. 

Inna works at a refugee centre in Warsaw, Poland. It is one of several centres providing a safe space for families from Ukraine with much-needed services like legal advice and counselling. In short, it provides a lifeline to those who’ve fled conflict, and it exists in part thanks to people like you.

One year ago, the devastating scenes of war from inside Ukraine were broadcast to the world. Plan International felt the urgent need to respond and help protect children in crisis – and so did you.

This centre in Warsaw, run by the HumanDoc Foundation, is just one of many services we’ve been able to deliver during this crisis. Together with your donations and the dedication of our local partners, we are helping children and their families recover, rebuild and thrive.

Life remains extremely difficult and uncertain for millions of children and their families in and around Ukraine, with girls facing specific challenges. But we continue to put your generosity to use to ensure that girls needs are met, and no child faces this crisis alone.

Principal Olena stands on the steps of her refurbished elementary school
Principal Olena stands on the steps of her refurbished elementary school

Back to school after the bombs

It’s September 2022 and Principal Olena is excited:

Today is a happy day for us, it’s the first day of learning.

Thanks to your donations, Olena was able to welcome students back to her elementary school in a formerly occupied town on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine. Plan International helped to refurbish the damaged school and create new Digital Learning Centres (DLCs) so children can catch-up with their classes and enjoy other extra-curricular school activities.

It will be super for us to have DLCs, Pupils can socialise and receive psychological support which supports their social and emotional learning.


At another school outside Kyiv, Nastya, Zenya and Amina also returned to a refurbished school, ending their isolation and providing a sense of safety.

Friends Zenhya, 17, Amina, 14, and Nastya, 15, return to a safe and refurbished school
From left to right: Friends Zenhya, 17, Amina, 14, and Nastya, 15, return to a safe and refurbished school

“For me, getting back to school meant getting some normalcy back in my life,” said 15-year-old Nastya.

Her best friend Amina, aged 14, added: “I used to think that life during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 was very hard, but I now realise that it was nothing compared to what we are going through now. For me, going back to school meant no longer being stuck on my own at home.”

Education for refugees

Education is a right. But for children like 12-year-old Vitaly who were forced to leave their homes, it’s also an important part of building a life in a new country.

Plan International has been working with local partners across Moldova, Romania and Poland to help ensure refugee children continue to learn; from providing new backpacks full of educational tools to distributing tablets for online learning.

Vitaly feels better now he is settled in Moldova:

When I first came into my class, my teacher met me and introduced me to the class. They all treat me well. I like this class even more than the one I had in Kyiv. I've found some friends here already. I'm quite happy with the current situation here.

A family settling in to their new life in Moldova
Vitaly, 12, has settled into his new life in Moldova with his brother and mother.

Mental health matters

For many children, the experience of war has a lasting impact on their mental health. Ensuring they get the support they need is crucial to their overall wellbeing.

In a refugee centre in the Bucharest, Romania, psychologist Romona delivers mental health and psychosocial support services to women and children. The centre is run by Plan International’s local partner ADRA.

The easiest way to identify a trauma is by drawing, so we organised a drawing session. Most children preferred drawing with the colour black. I never saw smiling faces.


Over time, the drawings started to show more colour and smiling faces, reflecting how children were relaxing into their new environment.

While dealing with trauma is a complex process that takes time and patience, your support has helped provide the environment and expertise needed for many to start this journey.

Drawings made by children at the refugee centre where Romona works
Drawings made by children at the refugee centre where Romona and Iness work

Tailoring support

Back at the HumanDoc refugee centre in Warsaw, we’ve also been able to support children with complex needs, like 5-year-old Pavel who has autism.

“Pavel only started speaking at the age of four. We had started sessions with a speech therapist, but this all ended once the war broke out. Our normal life disappeared.

Natalia, Pavel’s mum
Natalia plays with her son Pavel, age 5
Natalia plays with her son Pavel, age 5.

Your generous support means Pavel has had the opportunity to resume speech therapy sessions with the psychologists and therapists at this Warsaw centre.

I have noticed that in the short time since he was enrolled, he has shown a lot of positive progress, On behalf of Ukrainian women with special needs children we are incredibly grateful. Because of your generous hearts and desire to help and share we have all these opportunities.


Protecting children

The search for safety during this conflict forced many children to the risks of travelling unaccompanied or separated from family.Uliana, 12, fled with her brother and sister:

We spent an entire week sleeping in our car. I was very scared and worried the whole time.


The siblings finally found a place to stay with a foster family in Ukraine who have taken in 10 children. Though safe from immediate danger, they are still far from home, living in a state of limbo.

Your support has helped us reach over 30,000 children like Uliana with protection services, helping to ensure children on the move are protected from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.

Uliana hopes to return home to reconnect with friends
“My hope for the future is to return to our home and see my friends again.” – Uliana,12.

The chance to play

Safe spaces to play aren’t just important for children. They often give parents much-needed respite too. That’s why we’ve been providing refugee children with opportunities to play upon reaching safety.

Finding safety had been the main thing on Liudmila’s mind for her and her three-and-a-half-year-old twins Liliana and Diana.

What worried me the most were the rumours that a lot of young women with children would simply disappear as soon as they left the country.


But she found safety in Moldova and now benefits from the kindergarten run by Plan International’s partner Amici di Bambini.

It’s such a great help to me as a mother, [the twins] always have something to do especially given that they are in a very active learning phase.

3 year-old twins Liliana and Diana play at the Amici di Bambini kindergarten, in Moldova.
3 year-old twins Liliana and Diana play at the Amici di Bambini kindergarten, in Moldova.

Cash assistance

Providing people with cash or vouchers in an emergency allows them to buy exactly what they need, when they need it. That sense of independence is also important for people who’ve experienced so much loss.

Iryna received vouchers in Romania for her and her 13-year-old daughter Arina.

We spent the money buying fruit and vegetables for the children. The vouchers made us feel more secure as we had our own money and could decide on our own what we needed. It gave us the feeling that we are independent and secure.


For Viktoriia, who found safety in Bucharest, Romania with her two children, the cash vouchers were an emotional surprise.

When I was told that today you were going to come and give us these vouchers in person I cried because complete strangers are helping us. I’m sure that people in Ukraine would help the same way

Viktoriia with her two children, Nikita, 14, and Leva, 2 in Bucharest, Romania.
Viktoriia with her two children, Nikita, 14, and Leva, 2 in Bucharest, Romania.

Thanks to your generous support, Plan International have helped 40,000 people like Iryna, Viktoriia and their children with cash assistance across Ukraine, Poland and Romania so they can get exactly what they need. We have also distributed 11,200 hygiene kits, including 7,000 period dignity kits in Poland, 600 in Romania and 600 in Moldova to girls and young women.

The donations we have received are making a real difference on the ground and will continue to help people affected by the conflict as new challenges arise and needs continue to change.

We don’t know how long the conflict will last but thanks to you, Plan International and our partners will continue to be there for the people of Ukraine – through the conflict and as communities rebuild and recover.

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