Marina Vitvitskaya lived a calm and happy life as a real estate expert until the war in Eastern Ukraine changed it radically. Nowadays she works for arche noVa, nearly every day she visits communities in the region of Toretsk. She drives from house to house to visit people in need. Stories of poverty, destroyed homes, and relatives who have been killed, have become part of Marina Vitvitskaya’s daily life. “I had only heard of humanitarian aid before, but I never expected that I would be involved in it myself one day. I did not even know I was able to. The war brought me to it.”
First the escape - then the help for others
Marina Vitvitskaya had no choice. Living in the city of Donezk, she found herself in the middle of the armed conflict right from the start. Her district was under fire every day. “I remember how one time I was lying on the ground and held my cat in my arms. Our house was shaking. I was horribly scared because I didn’t know what to do or where to hide.” She decided to leave Donezk and with that her whole life: Her appartment, her job, family and friends.
Her way led her to the government controlled part of Toretsk region, close to the frontline. She was registered as a refugee but could not find a job. That is how she started to work in the humanitarian sector. “It is a coincident that I lived near the arche noVa office. Idecided to go in there and see what they do. I stayed as a volunteer. After six months the head of our country office chose me as her assistant. Since then we are two hard working horses”, Marina Vitvitskaya laughs.
The arche noVa team is a family
The connection between Marina and the project manager reaches further than just work. When they organise the reconstruction of destroyed buildings, help hospitals and schools to get their water and electricity supply going and distribute relief goods to the people in need, both also care for each other. “We are like a family. We cry together and we laugh together”, she says.
If there were not such a good team work, we would not be able to handle all those tragedies from morning till evening. Marina Vitvitskaya often gets no rest at night. She is tired. But concentrating on other people’s problems at work helps her to think less about her own ones. Even though there are enough of them: “I am a refugee. I have lost my home. I am 53 years old and struggling with health problems. I don’t know what my future will bring and when I can return to my home town.”
"That gives me the feeling to really have helped somebody."
But instead of worrying, Marina Vitvitskaya prefers to work even more. And when she sees the results of her efforts, she feels like it is worth it: “The most beautiful moment is when a grandmother takes me in her arms when we are visiting people on-site. That gives me the feeling to really have helped somebody. It warms my soul.”