Yelena Yavorskaya was in the process of building a new home in Moschun, about 20 miles north of Kyiv, when her town came under attack.
A rocket hit the house next door, and the fire spread, burning down most of their property.
She fled Moschun with her family on the morning of Feb. 24, 2022, the day Russia launched a full-scale invasion in Ukraine.
Over the last year, Kyiv’s northern suburbs have become symbols of Russian occupation, atrocities and destruction.
Schools, hospitals, factories and entire apartment blocks have turned to rubble and debris as a result of Russian attacks. According to the World Bank, the cost of reconstruction could reach upward of $600 billion.
But Ukrainians have already begun to rebuild.
Yavorskaya returned to Moschun in late March of 2022, when the area was liberated by Ukraine’s military.
She cried in shock when she saw her village in shambles. The first thing she did was plant a vegetable garden, she said.
And even though the war is far from over, she and her husband have started to rebuild their home while staying in temporary housing.
In September last year, when it was warmer, people were busy clearing debris – rebuilding and restoring their homes.
Now, there are fewer people, but some have resettled here again and there are a few signs of restoration — new rooftops, windows and electrical lines.
The couple plans to finish rebuilding their home this year, but they’re doing it without any government support, she said. They have insurance, but it does not cover acts of war.
And they’re not alone. Many are trying to rebuild despite the challenges.
Residents in the city of Bucha, about 25 minutes southwest of Moshchun, are also trying to rebuild after months of living in a city littered with abandoned tanks and debris.
Yuriy Pysarchuk, 63, said he returned to a severely damaged house in May of 2022.
“There were no windows, and the doors were broken,” he said.
Bullet and shrapnel holes remain visible in the walls. He’s had to do a lot of the repairs on his own.
“I did it with my own two hands,” Pysarchuk said, “and at my own expense.”
Daniel Ofman/The World
The government has promised Ukrainians that they will be compensated for wartime damage.
Last month, United 24, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s fundraising initiative, announced a rebuilding project for this area. But those funds are allocated toward restoring large apartment buildings — not private homes like Pysarchuk's and Yavorskaya's.
In Borodyanka, about a 25-minute drive from Bucha, full apartment blocks are still in shambles, with multiple 10-story buildings that were directly hit by Russian missiles.
Resident Olga Pred still takes her sons to play at a small playground behind a row of apartment buildings.
She said that when the full-scale invasion began, she thought about leaving Ukraine, and decided to stay because her husband is in the military and she wanted to keep the family together.
“For the first couple of months, we lived without doors or windows,” she said.
Now, she and her husband are rebuilding gradually — without much assistance from the government.
“It’s so disheartening that the war didn’t change anything,” Pred said. “You see, so much time has passed and still nothing’s been done.”
Daniel Ofman/The World
Months later, the local government helped replace windows, but overall, Pred said, the government isn’t doing enough to help people.
Most of the assistance comes from international organizations.
Despite her efforts to restore the apartment, some repairs are just temporary.
She still fears that the war could come back to her doorstep, and keeps a go-bag packed and ready in case she needs to flee.
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