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Peremoha Grantee Story: Resiliency in a bombarded border community

Peremoha Grantee Story: Resiliency in a bombarded border community

Peremoha is the Ukrainian word for Victory.

The Peremoha Mini-Grants program was launched in the summer of 2022 in response to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers can apply together with a Ukrainian partner they worked with in some way during their service. Funding priorities for the program include humanitarian aid to Ukrainian communities, and projects in alignment with sectors previously implemented by Peace Corps Ukraine: community development, youth development, education, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. We are proud to share with you the stories of the Alliance's Peremoha grantees.



RPCV: Diana Diodosio, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, 2006-2008

Ukrainian Partner: Inna, Community Volunteer and Project Manager

Region: Sumska Oblast


Diana (RPCV 2006-2008) taught English as a second language in a border town that has now been designated a combat zone. Since the full-scale invasion by Russia in February 2022, the town has lost several houses in the outskirts and experienced shelling in and around the city center and (now repaired) damage to its communications tower. In March of 2022, Russian soldiers, tanks and equipment seized control for a short time. Ukrainian forces reclaimed the area; however, as a result of its border proximity and the location of the regional communications tower, attacks are frequent. After months of shelling, the community’s hospital was heavily damaged in November of 2022. By March of 2023, a large portion of downtown was destroyed, including one of the schools. Although this town lacks strategic or military significance, shelling is lamentably still a regular occurrence into 2024 as Russia pushes forward a campaign of terror on civilians. Despite these difficult circumstances, this town and its inhabitants continue to be resilient. One indicator is the town’s community center.

The center was built in 2014, just after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and outbreak of war in the Donbas, to help locals thrive in a time of crisis. The community center has a large network that spans to neighboring towns, and engages the community by organizing volunteers and conducting community outreach projects. The center is able to act quickly and adjust to people’s needs because of this extensive network. One of the most important projects involves canning.  Being under constant attack, many citizens lose some of their crops and thus their means of survival during winter months. Volunteers bring in portions of their harvested vegetables and spend time building bonds and strengthening their willpower through conversation while cooking and canning tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, cabbage, etc. to be distributed to others who have had their fields destroyed. In addition, groups of citizens create clean-up crews to remove debris and dig out the homes and businesses of their neighbors and community after devastating shelling. Local construction crews often volunteer time and supplies to assist in repairing and rebuilding damaged structures. Other areas of work include finding appropriate short-term housing for people in need, creating youth art and educational projects, reaching out to lonely individuals on the holidays, and giving out clothes, food, and medicine to neighboring communities and people in need.


Women at desks examine the contents of first aid kits

Studying the contents of first aid kits


Unfortunately, due to the war, there are rolling blackouts in the town that interrupt this important work. Furthermore, as locals are dealing with more attacks and often shelter in place, they need to learn skills such as healthily processing stressful situations and first aid/CPR. To sustain their efforts while under constant bombardment, the community members need a place with a reliable energy supply, and the ability to address the physical and mental wounds created by the war.

Diana worked with Inna, a local community volunteer and project manager, to ensure the community center can receive what it needs to continue its work with the locals. She requested funds for a generator to provide backup power, and workshops to train locals on emergency first aid and how to cope with stress.


Inna’s team received $1000 through a Peremoha Mini-Grant:

  • $600 in grant funds to purchase a generator to be used by residents during power outages and for residents who lost building capacity during shelling.
  • $82 to pay lecturers for 15 workshops on emergency first aid training and how to manage and cope with stress.
  • $22 to pay a driver to transport workshop attendees from smaller surrounding villages to her town to attend the workshops.
  • $48 to pay for fuel to transport workshop attendees as well as some fuel for the generator so that it will be ready to use during emergencies.
  • $248 to pay an electrician for parts and labor to set up a new electrical box that is designated for use with the generator. This box allows the kitchen to run safely on the generator and protects appliances from being destroyed by a surge when power returns. New wire was also run to power specific lighting in the shelter space while it is being run by the generator.

 Although the price of generators rose after the initial award was made, the community was able to crowdfund for the difference and complete their project. 


A woman stands next to a generator. On the wall behind her is a green electrical box with a yellow lightning bolt sticker.

Generator and electrical box for backup power


The center has already used the generators to assist community members during power outages.  Residents shelter in place at the center and can cook together as needed when there are rolling blackouts or it is deemed unsafe to go outside due to the frequent shelling of the town.

First aid and mental health workshops were held in August 2022 just before school started, with teachers and school representatives from both Inna’s town and surrounding villages. Some of the 15 planned lectures had to be delayed a week due to heavy shelling. The workshops taught skills in emergency medical treatment and stress management to community representatives who, in turn, shared the lessons with their students, friends, and family members. The knowledge from the workshops continues to be conveyed through time. For example, during heavy shelling in November of 2022, many residents utilized the shelter and under the lights of the new wiring run on the generator, they pulled out the first aid supplies and imparted information to new learners. 


Several women sit on a bench in an underground shelter and watch as another woman demonstrates applying a tourniquet to her leg.

Demonstrating tourniquet application in the underground shelter


According to the grantees, the effects of this mini-grant program have been highly impactful and are truly far-reaching. It not only provided equipment and transmitted knowledge, but also informed the community that others support them and provided an avenue to continue to coalesce and band together, truly boosting morale and helping the community to achieve communal goals while facing intense adversity. 

The Peremoha Mini-Grants program is made possible by the amazing RPCVs and Ukrainian partners who lead these projects, and funded by charitable contributions made to the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine grant fund.  Donate today! Proceeds from sales of the  Babusya's Kitchen Cookbook also support our grant fund. 

 March 16, 2024