Iryna is 10 years old, and Liliia’s eldest daughter. She still remembers the night their house was hit. Iryna and her sibling all suffer from post-traumatic stress. It is hard to concentrate at school and she has nightmares and anxiety. “The main concern for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night,”says her mother Liliia. 

Background story:
Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
Ukraine

Iryna falls asleep to the sound of shots

February 2015: At midnight, heavy shelling began close to Iryna’s home on the frontline. Her father went outside, and suddenly their property was hit, only a few metres away from where he was standing on the porch. The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house.

Four years later, Iryna and her siblings still suffer from post-traumatic stress. They are anxious and often wake up at night from nightmares.

Iryna is 10 years old, and Liliia’s eldest daughter. She still remembers the night their house was hit. Iryna and her sibling all suffer from post-traumatic stress. It is hard to concentrate at school and she has nightmares and anxiety. “The main concern for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night,”says her mother Liliia. Iryna helps her sister Yana, 7, with her hair. 

Background story:
Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
Read caption Iryna fixes her little sister Yana's hair. Both girls often wake up at night from nightmares. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

Afraid it will be destroyed again

Liliia Poturoieva, Iryna’s mother, has a restrained smile, revealing little of the horrors she and her families have lived through since the war broke out in their home village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in the Luhansk region.

Four years have passed since their house was bombed.

"We still hear the sounds of shots every night. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again."

This year, the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine will enter its fifth year. So far, the conflict has taken more than 3,000 civilian lives, displaced 1.5 million people and left 3.5 million in need.

Shelling, violent clashes, landmines and unexploded remnants of war have become a brutal normality in the everyday life of Ukrainians trying to survive. Despite the high numbers of civilians affected, the crisis remains neglected, with little funding to humanitarian assistance and parties to the conflict continue to disregard the ceasefire agreement.

Read also: Five facts after five years of conflict in eastern Ukraine

Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Short version: Liliia Poturoieva, 39, mother of six, soon seven children lives close to the contact line in eastern Ukraine. At midnight, February 2015, another round of heavy shelling began and hit Liliia’s house. That night she saved the life of her youngest son. “The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house, but I covered my baby who slept in his bed right under the window with my own body and the glass pieces hit me in the back”. After that night Liliia began having problems with her speech. The stuttering is a daily reminder of the war.

 Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
Read caption "I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again," says Iryna's mother, Liliia Poturoieva. She has a restrained smile, revealing little of the horrors she and her families have lived through since the war broke out. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

Civilians are paying the price

The civilian population continues to pay the highest price in the ongoing conflict. Liliia has six children. Her oldest, Oleksandr, is 20 and doesn’t live with his parents anymore. Ihor is 12. He is a shy, calm schoolboy, always ready to help out his parents at home. Liliia’s oldest daughter, Iryna, goes to school and assists her mother with the housekeeping. She cooks and looks after the younger ones. Yana is seven, a first-grade pupil and a cheerful, energetic girl. Liliia’s youngest, the five-year-old boy Illia and two-year-old girl Aryna, stay at home with their mother. The family can’t afford to send them to kindergarten. Now, Liliia and her husband Viktor are expecting their seventh child.

When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back.
Liliia Poturoieva

Before the conflict, the entire family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. Their main income was from child allowances and whatever they could make from keeping a few cows, goats, rabbits and chickens.

"There was no work in the village," says Liliia. "There was no opportunity to travel elsewhere to work. We tried to make money by selling milk."

Since there is no school in their village, the children go to school in a neighbouring village, five kilometres away. Since the night of the shelling, Iryna finds it hard to concentrate in class.

Iryna is 10 years old, and Liliia’s eldest daughter. She still remembers the night their house was hit. Iryna and her sibling all suffer from post-traumatic stress. It is hard to concentrate at school and she has nightmares and anxiety. “The main concern for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night,”says her mother Liliia. 

Background story:
Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
Read caption Iryna with one of the family's rabbits. Before the conflict, the entire family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. Their main income was from child allowances and whatever they could make from keeping a few cows, goats, rabbits and chickens. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

Saved her son’s life

That horrible night could have turned out much worse. Under one of the windows shattered by the blast stood a child’s bed, where Liliia’s youngest was fast asleep.

"When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back." Liliia stutters when recounting the events. It’s not something that leaves you unmarked.

The blast left the house heavily damaged: all the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed, as well as the roof and the foundation. But Liliia and her family didn’t dare leave it unattended. They tried to repair it by themselves, covering the broken windows with plastic wrap. They spent the nights in the basement, the warmest and the safest place of the house. They received no help from the local authorities.

Illia, 5,  is watching cartoons on TV while his baby sister Aryna, 2, is having her afternoon nap on the sofa.  In the small kitchen their father Viktor is having a small rest from his work  outside.

Background story:
Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
Read caption Illia, 5, is watching cartoons on TV while his baby sister Aryna, 2, is having her afternoon nap on the sofa. In the small kitchen, their father Viktor is resting from his work outside. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

NRC is renovating their home

"At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t believe anyone would really help us," says Liliia. “But my husband had heard that the Norwegian Refugee Council was running a house repair project in the village and advised me to go and find out more about it."

She did, and now the house is on its way to being fully restored. The roof has new tiles and the walls have been completely renovated. New windows have been installed and the children share three small rooms between them.

NRC provided construction materials and cash to help renovate four houses in Liliia’s village.

"What’s important now is that the active phase of the war doesn’t break out again," says Liliia, longing for more peaceful times in their reconstructed family home.

Illia, 5 years old, is looking out of the window, with Iryna and Yana by his side.  One February night back in 2015 his mother Liliia saved his life when shelling destroyed their house. 

Background story:
Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
Read caption Illia, 5, is looking out of the window of the renovated house. His parents can’t afford to send him to kindergarten. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC