Tourism in a War Zone and Rehab Center for Veterans: How Local Ukrainian Communities Are Fighting for A Better Life

September 23, 2020
In big cities and small towns all over Ukraine, there are numerous different initiatives trying to improve the lives of locals.

UkraineWorld, together with its colleagues from the regional media, looks at several of these stories.

Rehabilitation center in the Eastern Ukraine

Located in Luhansk Oblast, Lysychansk is one of the oldest cities of Eastern Ukraine. In 2014, it was occupied by the Russian-backed forces, but was liberated after several months and now remains under Ukrainian government control. The city's proximity to the frontline affects the lives of its residents.

Half a year ago, volunteers and activists decided to create a space for the gathering and rehabilitation of veterans, volunteers and members of their families. Journalist Volodymyr Khapchuk tells the story of the center for

"There has never been anything like it before in Luhansk Oblast", says Myroslav Garmash-Butenko, a local activist and member of veteran NGO. With no experience, volunteers had looked for a place for the rehab center, and were soon able to find the right space. The rehabilitation center was built thanks to a grant from the United Nations Development Programme.

"Now here one can find psychological assistance in the most difficult life situations"

Now, one can find psychological assistance here in the most difficult life circumstances. There are various workshops held, too. The center has also brought together locals who want to help or are looking for support themselves.

Tourism in Donetsk oblast

Tourism in the government-controlled areas of Donetsk Oblast is just at the beginning of its development, writes journalist Vira Iliina in her article for Tekhnopolis. Meanwhile, residents of this region have many ideas on how to attract tourists.

To promote the region, tourist business representatives have united into a trade organization to foster cooperation and participation in various events and trainings. "Currently, the Donetsk Regional State Administration is working to create a brand for the region that will provide additional opportunities for the development of domestic tourism", assures Valentyna Lymarenko, the head of the organization.

"The majority of Ukrainians now associate Donetsk Oblast with a war zone"

The majority of Ukrainians now associate Donetsk Oblast with a war zone. Despite many problems, however, people haven't given up. They have come up with various activities to attract tourists.

For example, the village of Zvanivka wants to preserve and share its historical traditions. This year, as a part of a local festival, its residents set a record and cooked a huge varenyk, a traditional Ukrainian dumpling. Members of the other community have also opened a history museum. Another group of the local activists is planning to arrange an all-Ukrainian competition in sport fishing this year. Life goes on despite the war, they say.

The small sports capital of Sumy oblast

Trostyanets is a city in Sumy Oblast, a border region in northern Ukraine. It is known for its young and well organized community. Sport has become its basis, journalist Vitalii Kokhan writes in an article for Media Kolo.

The main projects presented to the city include the reconstruction of a local stadium, as well as the building of a multisport complex and a new biathlon complex with multifunctional sports and recreation facilities are among the main projects. They were all made possible due to decentralization reform, and were supported by the Ministry for Regional Development.

All three facilities will be built to European standards, so in the future the local authorities plan to host international competitions here. Today, the facilities mostly host residents of Trostyanets. The vast majority of them are young people.

In addition, sport clubs in Trostyanets are also developing other sport activities, such as a gym and tennis courts, skiing and skating in the winter, and catamarans and kayaks in the summer. "I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle", says Svitlana, a local resident who enjoys kayaking on Vorskla river.

Despite the current difficulties, local communities in Ukraine are developing themselves to make a better life in future. They face problems, including a lack of initiative and resources, but examples like the ones in Zvanivka and Trostyanets show a promising path forward.

This article was produced through the stipend program Remain in the Profession, run by Internews Ukraine.

The program is made possible by the support of the American people through the Media Program in Ukraine, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Internews. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and Internews Ukraine and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government or Internews.

Yaroslava Kobynets
journalist at Internews Ukraine

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