Kateryna quickly packed her bags in the Luhansk region of Ukraine in September 2015, only taking what was absolutely necessary for herself and her two small daughters. Her hometown had become too dangerous. Constant shelling had destroyed the homes around her. Fleeing was the obvious choice.
But what initially seemed like a journey towards safety should turn into a battle that left Kateryna desperate and in fear of loosing her daughters. As a single mother, she was dependant on any help she could get to keep herself and her children off the streets. But without any family support, her only option were child benefits from the state.
And then the Social Welfare Department refused payment for her youngest daughter Yulyia. The little one had only been born in March 2015 in the occupied territories. In accordance with a decree issued by the President, her birth certificate was not recognised by state bodies in Ukraine – the birth certificate was considered invalid, making Yulyia ineligible for any benefits. The only solution was to receive a new birth certificate. Through a court order. Requiring the payment of legal fees that Kateryna could not afford.
Kateryna and her two daughters are only three of the estimated 40 million people that were living in internal displacement due to conflict at the end of 2017 (Global Report on Internal Displacement 2018). Kateryna was lucky and received help from the Vincentian charity Depaul Ukraine that supported her throughout the trial and secured a new birth certificate – resulting in Yulyia being entitled to child benefits and finally being recognized as a Ukrainian citizen. The first important step towards a new life for Kateryna and her daughters in their own country.
But many more across the world need help.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that 2017 saw 11.8m total new displacements due to conflict and 18.8m new displacements due to disasters. The scale is sheer unimaginable and sometimes it seems like a drop in the ocean attempting to make a difference.
But this drop means the world to a family that is given the key to their new home after they lost everything in a flood. This drop means a child can sleep safe and sound in their very own bed. This drop ensures that those fleeing violence and disaster can build a new life, a future.
When we first launched the 13 Houses Campaign, the project ideas came from Guatemala, Mexico, India, Colombia – and all of them responded to the urgent needs of those that had been displaced in their own countries. Reading these proposals was as tragic as it was inspiring. And it showed us what we could achieve if we all come together and ask ourselves: What more can we do?
These projects will change the lives of hundreds of families over the coming years; they will lift people out of homelessness and poverty, and open up opportunities where there seemed none.
We invite you to become a part of this movement for change and help us to improve and transform the lives of 10,000 people in the next 3-5 years! The 13 Houses Campaign is ambitious and wants to see 13 Houses projects in all of the 156 countries where the Vincentian Family works!
Find out more about the Campaign and how you can get involved here.