A man wearing a coat and backpack walks over rubble outside a damaged building in Ukraine

Cultural mediator helps fellow Ukrainians amid crisis

After Denys Byzov and his family were forced to flee their home in Kyiv amid violent rocket attacks and bombing, he said goodbye to his wife and 1-year-old baby as they crossed the border while he stayed behind.

He joined Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency response team as a cultural mediator and translator to ensure that needs of his fellow Ukrainians are heard, and that the organization’s actions take everyone into account.

Byzov shares his experience:

When I arrived in the west after leaving my home in Kyiv, I wanted to be useful to other people and to the country. I found Humanity & Inclusion and asked if I could help somehow, and they accepted me. There are some cultural differences between Ukrainians and foreigners. Sometimes we may think differently. So, my job is to prevent misunderstandings in our response. I have also taken on the role of a translator. I take part in the assessments and evaluations of the collective centers and different facilities that need support.

It’s very important for me to support people in such a critical situation. It’s important to be included in the response and help each other. It’s the only way to stay united.

In conditions like this, social support and psychological services are so important. We need to give people the possibility to express their feelings, to speak to someone, and be heard. We must also provide their basic needs to help them feel safe, because only once people are feeling safe can we provide further steps of support.

c_HI__A_woman_and_man_wearing_tan_vests_with_a_blue_HI_logo_on_the_chest_stand_side_by_side_in_front_of_a_brown_background.jpgCaglar Tahiroglu, Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency mental health and psychosocial support manager, and Denys Byzov, Humanity & Inclusion's cultural mediator, in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.

I am a medical doctor and surgeon by profession in Ukraine. For the last few years, I have worked as a clinical trials specialist. As a doctor, I will also try to support injured people where I can. At the moment, I am proposing my aid here with Humanity & Inclusion in Chernivtsi. I have visited a few hospitals to offer my help, and they said they will contact me when they have additional needs.

There are so many people who do not know what the future will hold. The building in Kharkiv, where my parents lived, has already been damaged by rocket attacks. We don’t know if my parents will be able to go back home. 

I hear so many stories from people whose homes have been destroyed. There are a lot of older people in the collective centers who really love their homes. They spent all their lives in one place and they feel very connected to it, so it was difficult for them to leave. Now, it no longer exists. They cannot believe that there is no home to go back to.

There are a lot of collective centers here in Chernivtsi, where displaced people are living. There are a lot of older people, people with disabilities and families with children. The centers were not ready to welcome so many people. These are former schools and dormitories that were not made for these purposes. They must be reorganized and transformed, it’s a constant process.

It’s important that they receive support for not only the displaced persons but for the staff, because they were not prepared for this situation either.

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