In August 2014, Tetiana Diuzheva left her native Luhansk after her dog was shot.
“At first, my brother and I just went to the forest outside of Shchastia. There was no mobile connection in Luhansk, so I was calling all my friends and relatives from that forest,” she says.
Tetiana's friend from university invited her to come to Zhytomyr. She stayed there for a year.
“I am a person with disability, I have diabetes. During the last month I spent in Luhansk there was no medicine in the city. So when I came to Zhytomyr I could hardly breathe, the disease exacerbated, I could not work.”
Tetiana was hospitalised and hardly survived. She started thinking about what to do next.
“I am an artist by education. When I lived in Luhansk I took care of my mother, who had cancer, and during that time I was crocheting all kinds of dolls, toys and made some extra money like that.”
Tetiana decided to do the same in Zhytomyr. She found an art organisation in the city, called “Artistic Polissia”, and participated in one of their exhibitions. She made magnets and crocheted toys, and travelled to Kyiv to showcase her pieces.
From sewing by hand, Tetiana’s pain in muscles and fingers intensified. It was then that she saw an online announcement that the International Organization for Migration and its local NGO partners were providing EU-funded grants.
She decided to refer for assistance in purchasing equipment she needed. In the spring of 2017, Tetiana received a sewing machine, an overlocker, a fretsaw, an iron and an ironing board.
It really helped her. The pension and other assistance she received from the government were not enough even for the medicine. She also wanted to resolve the issue with her accommodation. Now, the craftswoman lives in Ahativka village, near the town of Berdychiv.
“We were lucky that my brother managed to exchange my house in Luhansk for a car. We took the car to Zhytomyr and sold it here and I was able to buy an old house in the village. It is old, but it is mine,” she says.
“I created profiles on various websites where I showcase my handmade souvenirs and send them from Berdychiv to different countries. I have clients in Germany, Norway, Turkey, Canada and the Baltic countries.”
“I’m happy that I can provide for myself, - Tetiana says. “Without doing my own business I would not be able to buy a fridge or to do the house up, since I spend about UAH 1,500 (approximately €48.8) on medicine each month, not including all kinds of medical examinations, hospital fees, utilities and food. So my small business saves me.”
Author: Uliana Bukatiuk