Photo story: A day on the job as an aid worker in Mykolaiv

20-year-old Katia spends every day helping people affected by the war in Ukraine.

DCA Ukraine

When the war broke out in 2022, Katia was studying law in Mykolaiv. She quickly decided that she wanted to be of use to Mykolaiv’s most vulnerable citizens. Since then, she has worked as a volunteer in several civil society organizations and is now a full-time employee at DanChurchAid (DCA) / Norwegian Church Aid’s (NCA) partner organization Right to Protection.

20-year-old Katia is part of a team at Right to Protection that is helping people in vulnerable situations in Mykolaiv and Kherson Oblasts in Southern Ukraine. Funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid, this support extends from case management and helping people get to their appointment at the hospital or local authority to legal aid when personal documents have been lost during the war.

Case management and legal aid are crucial for vulnerable people near frontlines and in de-occupied areas of Ukraine. These services help address complex needs, ensure access to vital resources, secure legal rights, and navigate bureaucratic challenges, which are often exacerbated by conflict. This assistance is vital for improving their quality of life, safeguarding their rights, and fostering resilience amid ongoing instability.

In order for the support to reach the vulnerable population in Mykolaiv and Kherson, people like Katia are needed. She drives around Mykolaiv and the surrounding area to help people with everything from getting to the hospital for examinations, obtaining SIM cards, getting a bank account, to helping communicate with the authorities about pension payments. In short, anything that people find difficult to manage on their own. However, that is not the limit of her job. She is a visiting friend for people, who are often dealing with loneliness, and whose families live far from them.

“My goal is to help people who live with difficult life circumstances after the outbreak of the war. This concerns people who, due to various circumstances such as disabilities, limited mobility, or psychological distress, are unable to solve their problems on their own and require social support,” says Katia.

This photo series follows Katia through one day on the job.

Many of the people Katia (center) helps are internally displaced persons (IDPs). Tetiana (left) and Liubov (right), both from the town of Ochakiv, receive support that enables them to access medicine and visit the hospital when needed.
50-year-old Anatolii sustained several serious injuries including in his stomach during a shelling in Beryslav, Kherson. He has received support to obtain an IDP status and get compensation as an IDP. Katia has also helped him get a bank card and taken Anatolii to the employment center.
Anatolii is currently living in a center for IDPs in Mykolaiv.
“My work is not easy, but it satisfies me because every day I help people in need. My day feels full of positivity if I have been able to assist people in need, making their lives better. I especially enjoy seeing the joy in the people I have been able to help by solving their problems. Sometimes they meet me with tears of joy,” Katia says.
Anna (left) used to live in Kherson, but has since the outbreak of war relocated to Mykolaiv. Katia is helping her get to the hospital. Previously, Katia has helped Anna get her pension funds and access to humanitarian aid.
Maria (left) was evacuated from Kherson at the beginning of the war. She is currently living at the Mykolaiv Geriatric Center, where Katia comes to visit her. Maria has already lost two children before the war, and now she has lost her house in Kherson. When Katia steps in the door, she livens up. “It’s so wonderful when she comes,” says Maria.
“Their smiles, their joy and hope for a better future, their belief in an improved situation, and the understanding that they are not alone, not left to handle their problems on their own, but can always count on the support of our organization – that is the best reward for my work,” Katia says.

© Rasmus Emil Gravesen

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