Restarting life with a new job

Jan 11, 2016

The war caught up with 19-year-old Vova Hilchenko when he was in a youth custody center.

One evening after working a shift he Vova was watching TV and saw on the news that a shell had hit the school where he used to study. It was just a couple of months before his release and he realized that if he returned to his native Alchevsk he, as an ex-convict, would most likely be handed a Kalashnikov gun and forced to join one of the armed groups.

This was not the road that he wanted to take and he started to look for an alternative path. It came through the Svitlo Nadii (Light of Hope) Poltava NGO, supported by UNDP. The NGO helped him with accommodation, training and employment. Now he works as a carpenter and dreams of opening his own furniture business one day.

“I did a lot of stupid things that I regret. I want a new life,” says Vova.

For 14 years Svitlo Nadii has been helping people on a knife edge in crisis situations, including ex-convicts and drug-abusers, IDPs, and the homeless, to start a new life. It helps people from vulnerable groups with accommodation and provides them with legal and psychological psycho-social support and professional training to help them get their feet on the ground. To sustain its work and provide jobs to the needy it has a furniture making business and sewing shops employing …50 people.

One of its clients, Irina S., had to flee with her daughter sometime in 2014, when the heavy shelling started in her native Luhansk. “I was so scared and wanted to keep my child safe from this horror. Yes, I miss my home, but at the same time I like Poltava and my new job. It is very peaceful here.”

Vova and Irina are among the 1,500 IDPs who were employed through UNDP IDP employment programmes. UNDP works with NGOs, companies, and local authorities to identify employment needs and generate new jobs. It also analyzes local labour markets and helps people to obtain the skills that are in need in particular communities.

UNDP support is not limited to vulnerable groups and the low-skilled labour force; it has also partnered with an IT company, Boolava, which relocated from Donetsk, to create jobs for 54 highly-qualified IT experts. Bringing in and harnessing IT expertise will help to spark innovation and turn a largely agriculture-based local economy into a knowledge-based one. In total more than 400 IDPs are being trained to become IT professionals, transforming Ukraine step-by-step into a vibrant, knowledge-based economy of the 21 century.

In addition to improving living standards for IDPs and boosting their self-confidence, new jobs bring in social cohesion between the displaced and host communities, who come to see them as equal and active society members who contribute to the local economy and community wellbeing.


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