In February, Anna Bekh went home to visit family in Ukraine. When conflict broke out two days later, she joined Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency response in her hometown.
Bekh, 28, had been living abroad with her fiancé for two years when she decided to travel home to Dnipro to visit her family and plan her upcoming wedding. Two days after she landed, a violent conflict erupted, turning entire cities to ash and millions of people into refugees overnight.
“When I arrived, I didn’t believe any conflict would start,” Bekh says. “But I remember the night before; I couldn’t sleep and had a sudden panic attack. There was an inexplicable feeling of fear that we were in danger.”
Inspired by the tragic events that have unfolded and the rising need for people to depend on others in a time of crisis, Bekh decided to stay and join Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency response to the conflict. As a program officer in Dnipro, Bekh identifies institutions, organizations, hospitals and volunteer centers where people displaced by the conflict are in need of humanitarian aid to determine how Humanity & Inclusion can best support their needs. Bekh, center, is pictured with Natalia and Konstantin who operate a center for displaced people that Humanity & Inclusion is supporting.
“We assess their needs and formulate a list of donations that Humanity & Inclusion can provide,” Bekh explains. “If there are a large number of requests, we prepare long-term financial support for them. Then, we monitor the process and oversee the activities.”
Finding humanity in times of hardship
Bekh recalls her experience visiting Zaporizhia and Kharkiv when the cities were under attack.
“In Kharkiv, we saw the metro stations full of people, living there with all their belongings, cats, dogs, and children,” she shares. “It can be hard to listen to all of the stories that happened to people as they escaped and evacuated from dangerous areas. It is very heartbreaking.”
Despite the difficult context, Bekh has managed to find positivity in working on the emergency response.
“I like getting to know the groups of people and then helping to assist them,” she says. “I was also shocked to see that many people responding to the crisis were working with no salary, and often using their own money to support people in need. Their devotion is impressive. Before this, I didn’t know those kinds of people existed.”
From Bekh’s perspective, the greatest needs in Ukraine are helping people to safely evacuate dangerous areas, supporting workplaces, and providing financial and social support to people affected by the conflict.
“I just hope that no more innocent people will be killed or injured,” she adds.