“How is the situation different compared to the last time we visited you?” we asked. “Now, they can be here within a day, the frontline is only 40 kilometers away. And they won’t ask us any questions,” replied Inna and Svetlana, our partners from Patriot in Zaporizhzia, Ukraine. Four months ago, they shared these words with Jeroen Ketting and me, highlighting the precarious situation in their region.

Inna and Svetlana run a refugee hostel in Zaporizhzia that continuously hosts around 30 internally displaced people each month. These individuals have fled from occupied villages or have had their homes destroyed. The hostel, though not luxurious, is clean, well-maintained, and efficiently run, with a clear focus on what truly matters.

One of the risks of providing humanitarian aid is creating dependency. However, with Patriot, this is not the case. They practice resourcefulness—lights are turned off when not needed, cups are preserved, and washing liquid is used sparingly. In addition to providing shelter, Inna and Svetlana offer temporary education and volunteer support for children, despite their traumatic experiences.

The difficult reality is that once bonds are formed with the refugees, they often need to move on, and the cycle starts again with new arrivals. LifeLine Ukraine.org, with the help of generous donors, supports Patriot by covering utility and food expenses. We are also initiating a new project to provide them with a small transporter van, enabling them to take children to cultural centers, field trips, or evacuate when necessary. Currently, they manage with a Nissan Micra.

In 1.5 weeks, we will visit Inna and Svitlana again. We hope their answer to our question has changed for the better, though we fear it may not have.

Support LifeLine Ukraine.org in helping where it’s needed most, in tight collaboration with strong local partners. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by conflict.