Monika Palotai, Kristóf György Veres: Civil Society Can Help Rebuild Ukraine
Partnership with local Ukrainian NGOs and churches ensures the most efficient and speedy use of foreign aid.
the bumpy car ride on sometimes-unpaved roads takes a good thirty minutes to go from the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to reach the Hebron IT Academy. Housed in a half-renovated three-story apartment building next to a picturesque pine forest just outside of Lviv’s city limits, Hebron opened its doors six years ago to help Ukrainian orphans restart their lives. Even amidst the ongoing war, the Academy continues to pursue its goal of giving Ukrainian youth a future and aiding in the country’s economic recovery.
We sat down at the Academy for a homemade dinner of local Ukrainian dishes with the new CEO, Ihor Ilvutchenko. You can glimpse the resilience of Ukrainian civil society amid the ongoing brutal war at the Academy. Relying on a monthly budget of $15,000, the Academy is educating and housing thirty students this semester. Most of these students have lost their families due to the Russian invasion. Apart from information technology studies, the one-year curriculum includes English and Bible classes. The Academy’s goal is to rehabilitate and integrate orphans into Ukrainian society, armed with the knowledge necessary to assist in the country’s reconstruction. The only thing the war changed was that the Academy also began welcoming internally displaced people (IDPs) who flooded into western Ukraine. Ihor, who is also an IDP himself, was running another IT academy in the now Russian-occupied city of Mariupol when the invasion began. Ihor, who was serving as an army volunteer, was captured by Russian forces and brutally interrogated for days. His captors tried to intimidate him by firing live ammunition around him before he could leave the city. However, “life goes on,” he said. “When the war ends, the country will prosper.”