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Letter from Ukraine: ‘I don’t want to see more ruins and more tears’

Nina Yarosh fled her home with nothing when war broke out in Ukraine, moving from Kharkiv to Dnipro with her husband. Now she’s working as a Programme Associate with the World Food Programme. This is her story.
, Nina Yarosh
Nina Yarosh back at the university in Kharkiv where she used to work, this time as a staffer with WFP. Photo: WFP/Paul Anthem

It is only now that I realize I had a dream-like life before the war. I had a house I wanted, work I enjoyed, I was surrounded by things I loved. And then, in one day, l lost it all. I had to flee, leaving everything behind, going empty-handed. My three degrees did not save me from losing my job at a university and source of income. Nor did they help me to feel confident and adaptable in this new, harsh reality, in which my dream life was shattered. 

‘My three degrees did not save me from losing my job and source of income’

I had to register myself as an internally displaced person and seek assistance that international organizations provide to war-affected Ukrainians. We stayed with a Roma community in Dnipro, and they told me about World Food Programme (WFP) food distributions. We needed food, because we had no money. Yet, coming for humanitarian aid, I got much more. This is a story that I will definitely pass on to my children in the future. 

Nina Yarosh (2nd from right), an associate university professor, fled the bombing in Kharkiv for Dnipro in eastern Ukraine. Now she works as a Programme Associate for WFP's office in Dnipro. Photo: WFP/Paul Anthem
Nina (second from right) on a visit back to Kharkiv with WFP colleagues. Photo: WFP/Paul Anthem

At a WFP food distribution site I met amazing people who inspired and empowered me. I told myself: ‘They are doing so much for the people of Ukraine, and I could be one of them. I could use my skills to help the people of my country.’ I was asked if I knew English and if I could help with some translations. I did, and then the head of WFP operations in Ukraine offered me to join the newly formed office in Dnipro. 

‘This is a story that I will definitely pass on to my children’

So visiting a distribution site provided me with not only food but also a job. Now, I work at WFP as a Programme Associate. I help to define areas where people are mostly in need. I liaise with local authorities and ensure that WFP’s help is where it is needed the most. We provide food as well as cash, where shops are open.  

Nina spoke with WFP about her experience during a food distribution. Now she works for the organization.

When WFP started operating in Kharkiv, my native city, I got particularly happy, because food needs there are very tangible. This is one of the reasons I had to flee: active hostilities were followed with food shortages. Throughout these last few months many people that I know personally have lost their source of income and need help to make a living. It is so important that we are here: on the ground we see the real situation and adapt our assistance. 

‘I would be happier if people of my country did not need this assistance’

I am very happy that I can help and that WFP provided me with an opportunity to develop and grow. Moreover, WFP is supporting millions others like me, those who got into very vulnerable situations due to this war. Yet, I would be even happier if people of my country did not need this assistance, if people of my country could provide for themselves and continued to live peacefully, as they did a few months ago.

I sincerely hope that this war will end soon, and we will restore everything that has been damaged. It is enough – I don’t want to see more ruins and more tears. I hope, I really hope, it will end, and Ukrainians will not need international organizations to have their basic needs met. Meanwhile, we at WFP are doing our best to support Ukrainians to restore their war-torn lives.” 

Additional reporting: Yuliya Hudoshnyk & Paul Anthem

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