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Building new connections in uncertain times

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Eight trustbuilding sessions have now taken place in Ukraine, in Dnipro, Lviv, Poltava and Kyiv. In Kyiv, two trustbuilding sessions were conducted recently. So far, the trustbuilding work has directly benefited 62 individuals in Ukraine. 

by Anna Ponomariova and Manon Michelle Monhemius

Participants of the sessions have been internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Donetsk, Mariupol, Kherson and Crimea. Individuals from the local community and members of the local government also attended.  

New connections in the community

During the sessions, facilitators Leonid Donos and Angela Starovoytova mixed theoretical information with nonviolent communication and shared practical tips for making new connections in the community. 'During the training, the participants concluded that well-being and the guarantee of social integration depend on how a person builds new connections in the community', says Leonid.  

Getting employed

People have different questions and uncertainties, but the employment issue ranks highest. 

Leonid shares, 'it is often difficult for people to find work in Kyiv similar to what they did before. Cleaners are mostly in demand, but it is challenging for people with higher education to accept that this might be the only work they can access.' 

Trauma and sharing

According to Leonid's observation, the most challenging thing for participants is recalling their previous experiences. 'But we cannot build a high-quality future without passing through the pain. Problems will not go away by themselves. I believe it is important to talk about what you have left, your plans, and how you see your life and the future.' 

Survivor's guilt

One of the participants in Kyiv was Svitlana. She comes from Mariupol, where she lived with her husband before the full-scale invasion. Svitlana now constantly asks herself why she and her husband survived while others did not. Why did their high-rise building get shelled but not their apartment? 'I have found sense in the fact that I am alive - perhaps to realise what I have dreamed of for a long time or to charge those around me with my energy', reflects Svitlana.

Uncertain future

A vision of the future remains challenging for participants due to uncertainty. 'Some participants are waiting for things to change and to return home in the summer, while others express that they think the war might drag on for years, so they choose to adapt and start building their lives in Kyiv', Leonid adds.  

The trustbuilding sessions are valuable for people to get to know each other, build connections and share experiences. During one of the trainings, participants shared that thanks to the trustbuilding sessions, they can expand their picture of the world and meet new people. People who attended a session keep coming back. After a few sessions, they open up more and actively try to get to know new people, for example, by choosing people they didn't know yet as a partner for exercises. 

Learn more about the trustbuilding work in Ukraine