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Frauentreff HellMa supports Ukrainian women

Story and photo: Tetiana Honcharuk

Illustration: #JeniaPolosina


Tetiana moved to Berlin five years ago. Having a background in human rights in Ukraine, Tetiana started working as the head of a women's center in Germany. At the center, they work to provide support to vulnerable women: both German and migrant ones.

Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Tetiana informed the management of the organization about a new urgent need—helping displaced persons from Ukraine. This is how Frauentreff HellMa became one of the first projects in Berlin to provide support to Ukrainian women, elderly people and people with disabilities.

Tetiana could relate to the challenges of the refugees personally. Her disabled father, mother and 94-year-old grandmother were in Kyiv at the beginning of the full-scale war. They had limited mobility, so they could not evacuate from the city on their own. Tetiana had to go to Ukraine herself to assist her family and arrange for transportation and registration in Germany. Through this work, she has experienced challenges with and shortcomings of German legislation and bureaucracy.

Tetiana's women's center was approached with numerous requests: to get help with housing, translation, to consult on the registration of refugee status and social assistance, rights and obligations. There were cases when refugees were denied medical care due to a lack of health insurance, which is a violation of their rights. Tetiana's team actively engaged with local authorities to discuss the challenges faced by Ukrainian refugees. This helped to achieve positive changes at the local level. For example, the registration of health insurance and the processing of applications to receive social assistance for Ukrainian displaced persons is now much smoother.

The women's center pays great attention to the psychological support of refugees. There is a group meeting with female therapists every week. At the first meeting, all the participants cried while talking about their first day of the war. Refugee women can also visit a conversation café in the center, where they chat with Germans and talk about Ukraine.

Tetiana specifies that we should explain a lot about Ukraine to the Germans because they often believe Russian propaganda and have prejudices against Ukrainians and the war. Therefore, the activist holds educational events by herself, where she talks about the history of Ukraine, the prerequisites of the war, the concept of the "Russian world", and Russian imperialism. At the same time, many Germans turned to the center because they wanted to shelter Ukrainian immigrants or provide them with translation, support, and clothing, but they didn't know, for example, how to talk about the war and traumatic experiences. Frauentreff HellMa also consulted on such issues.


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