Peremoha Grantee Stories: Providing power and WiFi for Internally Displaced People

Friday April 21, 2023

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 could apply together with a Ukrainian partner they had worked with in some way during their service. Funding priorities for the program included 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: Becky Bosshart, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, 2012-2014

Ukrainian Partner: Kateryna (Катерина), English Professor and owner of CLA Language School

Region: Chernivtsi, Chernivetska Oblast

 

Becky worked with her friend Kateryna to help provide a reliable power supply and internet to a school in downtown Chernivtsi used as a shelter for internally displaced people. This power supply is used to keep her power, heat, and internet on during rolling blackouts caused by Russia’s continuous attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, depriving basic human needs from civilians including displaced people far from combat zones. Chernivtsi is the oblast capital in the western region of Chernivetska and it is on a schedule of sharing power in order to supply areas who have totally lost power because of Russian shelling and missile attacks. Kateryna has been able to offer her school as a center for displaced people and as a Community Power Hub for those who need a warm place to access the internet and charge up their devices to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues (it is a shared work space). She used the grant money to purchase a power inverter, two accumulators (a battery that can hold energy for about eight hours of power), a charger for the accumulators, three power banks, one power stabilizer, a portable Wi-Fi router, and antennae for the router so that visitors and students of the CLA Language School can continue to work, stay warm, and connect with friends and family during the rolling blackouts caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s power grid and regional power sharing.

 

 

Since the beginning of the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Kateryna has used space in her school to create a shelter for displaced people arriving from Chernihiv, Kyiv, Dnipro, Mariupol, and Dnipro. She has hosted 120 people since February 24, 2022 and she has even kept track of the people she has been helping. Her breakdown includes: relocated business leaders from eastern Ukraine (15%), volunteers assisting displaced people (25%), displaced students who don’t have light and heat from eastern Ukraine but who need to continue distance learning (30%), and displaced teachers of English who live in refugee camps in school gyms (30%).

Kateryna and her volunteer community have helped adults who have been forced to move to Chernivtsi to write their CVs and cover letters to start working for international companies remotely. They have helped business leaders relocate west and move online to contribute to the global economy. They have also employed relocated professionals in setting up this project and helped improve their linguistic skills. Kate has found “business leaders are eager to raise their awareness of setting up international marketing campaigns, networking with business leaders worldwide, and get acquainted with the needs of American customers.” This project has already assisted several professional people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, a group at elevated risk during this conflict, and has fostered a community of volunteers to promote self-determination: connecting Ukraine globally while also providing immediate emergency needs.

 

Kateryna and Becky are also seeking other grant funds so that the Chernivtsi school can teach displaced children with special educational needs who cannot currently be helped in the oblast educational system. If you are interested in following their story, their twitter handles are: @cla.english, @united.for.ua

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