English Teacher, Displaced in Ukraine, Turns Passion Into Business

Speeches Shim

Oksana Borodachova in the new class.
Oksana Borodachova in the new classroom
Mykola Yabchenko
The rise of a two-room school and a vision for language instruction
“We dream to teach more languages at our school. Life goes on — so do we.”

August 2018 — Oksana Borodachova, an English teacher from the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, couldn’t imagine her life without teaching. In 2015, when her family moved from Luhansk to Kharkiv due to conflict in the region, she expected the move to be temporary and that she would return home to her favorite job soon thereafter. But after six months, it became clear that her family would be in Kharkiv longer than initially expected.

Although Borodachova found a job as an English language teacher at the Luhansk National Agrarian University (which had also moved to Kharkiv), she retained a long-held dream to create her own foreign language school, where she could have free rein to realize her vision for how to teach English.

In fall 2016, she took the leap and leased premises consisting of two rooms to open Cool School, which provided English language instruction. Although the demand was there and the school quickly became popular, limited resources had only allowed her to properly equip a single room. Space limitations and a lack of funds for additional teachers prevented the enrollment of more students.

Then in February 2017, Borodachova learned about USAID’s Economic Opportunities for People Affected by Conflict program. Implemented in eight oblasts, including Kharkiv, the activity helps people affected by conflict start new businesses or expand established ones.

Borodachova received a grant to buy the equipment necessary for a second room, including a computer, a school board, furniture and teaching materials for more instructors. Two additional teachers, also internally displaced persons from Luhansk oblast, were hired. By September 2017, the room was fully equipped and four new groups of students had started classes there.

Her school now enables Borodachova to help support not only her own family, but the families of the teachers she employs. She is delighted that her passion to teach turned into a business and is making plans for the future.

“We dream to teach more languages at our school,” says Borodachova. She understands better than ever that opportunities arise when least expected. “Life goes on — so do we,” she adds.

Since August 2016, USAID’s Economic Opportunities for People Affected by Conflict program has provided 120 grants to entrepreneurs who have created 154 new jobs. In addition, 500 internally displaced persons and 300 people with disabilities have attended trainings to develop their business skills. The project has also provided 3,450 legal consultations to nearly 3,200 people.


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