Milwaukee’s Sister City of Irpin began publishing video stories about local families who saw their homes destroyed in February and March by the brutal Russian invaders. The effort is part of an Irpin Reconstruction Fund to assist displaced residents.

Former Mayor of Irpin Volodymyr Karplyuk co-founded the fund, and is chairman of the Irpin Investment Council that is overseeing the city’s recovery from war damage. The Restoration Fund was created with the goal of attracting financial, material, technical and organizational resources to replace vital residential infrastructure destroyed during the Russian attempt to capture Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city.

“There are over one and a half thousand destroyed private residential buildings in Irpin. Every house is destiny. The fate of people who lost their homes, lost a roof over their heads. Starting today, we are starting to publish a series of short video films about Irpin families who suffered as a result of Russian aggression and who lost their homes. And we very much hope that these films will help our Irpin residents to restore their homes, that our international partners, Ukrainian businessmen, seeing the situation these families are in, will be able to help financially, help with construction materials, so that as many Irpin residents as possible can restore their homes.” – Volodymyr Karplyuk

According to Karplyuk, the fund started collecting materials for the restoration of damaged or destroyed residential apartments and private housing, and will soon begin the transfer of materials to begin the repair work. Karplyuk also appealed to anyone who could help with labor or building materials.

As of October 11, five short films have been released by the Irpin Reconstruction Fund. Each tells the story of an Irpin family who lost their home in the war.

“On February 24, on the newly rebuilt first floor of their house, the Ovdeichuk family planned to celebrate the birthday of their husband and father – Oleksandr. But at 5 o’clock in the morning their lives changed. From February 24 to March 6, the family hid on the first floor. And on March 13, the building was completely destroyed by shells from the Russian Army. Their daughter’s car burned down in the garage along with the house.”

“Four generations of Irpinians lived in the same house. During the hostilities, their home was completely destroyed. An old couple with their daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were left without a roof over their heads, as the men of the family went to the front to fight in the war. They now live only on pensions, the bulk of those small funds is spent on medicines to treat serious illnesses. The family lacks the resources to rebuild their home without help.”

“Three generations of Kushnirs had lived in the same house. Each worked to make Ukraine a stronger nation, and Irpin a better community. Because the home owner is a doctor, and head of the transfusion department, he remained at his hospital’s combat post in the first days of the war. After two weeks of Russian war crimes that specifically targeted civilians, the decision was made to evacuate all patients. The doctor’s family left Irpin ahead of the invaders. When they returned, after the Russias had been driven out by the Ukrainian Military and Irpin’s Territorial Defense Forces, they found their home destroyed. The occupiers had either taken or burned everything that had bear to the family.”

“Ten people, spanning three generations lived in the Nowitsky’s house from grandparents to grandchildren. Two men from the family are now defending their homeland on the battlefield in the ranks of the Armed Forces. The house was built in 1905 by a great-grandfather who worked on the railway. Although the dwelling was small, the family lived together with enough space for everyone. The Nowitsky family, like so many others in Irpin, need help to rebuild.”

“During the hostilities in March 2022, the house of Irpin journalist Lyudmila Lozova, where she lived with her husband, retired mother-in-law, son, daughter-in-law with disabilities, and their young granddaughters, was completely destroyed by artillery shells. The family built the house on their own over a decade, but cannot wait that many weeks to rebuild. Before that can even happen, the ruins must be dismantled and debris removed before the reconstruction process.”

“For more than 10 years, Lyudmila selflessly served our community, and from the first days of the war she united her colleagues fought on the information front,” said Karplyuk. “During the most terrible period in the history of our region, starting from February 24, Lozova’s media team never stopped informing the residents of our region about what was happening. Her work helped many flee, and gave support for those who remained while the area was occupied.”

Karplyuk added that many of the families have lost their employment, because companies were either destroyed, relocated further away to safety, or lost their business infrastructure. As more residents return to their hometown of Irpin and find their residence in ruin, they and the city government are struggling to secure enough help and resources before winter arrives.

Іvаn Vаsylyеv, Kіbrі Hо, Hоnchаruk Аndrіі, Оlеksаndr Vоlchаnskyі, аnd Pаvlоvskа Yеvhеnііа

This article was based on a series of news reports originally published in Ukrainian by ITV News

The Irpin Recovery Fund is a public organization that, together with the Irpin city authorities, restores the destroyed social and residential infrastructure.