Displaced But Not Defeated in Ukraine: the Victory of an Enterprising Spirit

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Tymofii Babych cuts a child’s hair at his business, which he started with USAID's TEAM project funding
Tymofii Babych cuts a child’s hair at his business, which he started with USAID funding.
Courtesy of USAID TEAM project
Visually impaired hairdresser expands operations
“My family and I express our sincere gratitude ... because it is not easy to reconcile life in a new place for a large family, especially in the countryside.”

May 2018 — Twenty-two-year-old Tymofii Babych was forced to grow up quickly when he lost his father. He needed to help his mother take care of five of his siblings. When the conflict started in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Babych and his family lost their home, and with it their wealth and sense of peace and well-being. They were forced to leave Luhansk and start a new life in a rural part of Vinnytsia oblast in central Ukraine.

Babych was not accustomed to a rural setting, let alone building a life and helping support his family there. But his passion and creativity kept him going. When he found out about USAID’s Training, Economic Empowerment, Assistive Technology and Medical/Physical Rehabilitation (TEAM) project during this difficult transition, he participated enthusiastically.

Visually impaired, Babych qualified for the project’s business training program and received training to become a hairdresser. Despite challenges with his sight, Babych turned out to be a talented hairdresser. He reports that he gained strength and confidence with the kindness and empathy he received from the project’s case managers, who also helped him apply for seed money to start his own business.

With few professional hairdressers in the countryside, Babych’s services were soon in high demand. He grew his business, employing two other hairdressers, and moved it to the regional center.

Inspired by the support he received, and his successful business, Babych introduced his brother Artem to the project, who started a small agricultural services business with the funding he received. Case managers also helped the brothers, who both have a visual impairment, prepare to enter higher education institutions.

USAID’s TEAM project, implemented by UCP Wheels for Humanity, provides vocational education, business training, and job placement for internally displaced people with disabilities and their families. It also provides assistive devices for people with disabilities.

In addition, the project trains medical rehabilitation professionals and is developing neuro-rehabilitation services in line with international practices and World Health Organization guidelines at resource rehabilitation centers in Lviv, Zaporizhzhya and Kyiv. The project works in cooperation with the Ukrainian Association of Physical Therapy and the National Assembly of People with Disabilities.

“My family and I express our sincere gratitude to the TEAM project, the National Assembly of Disabled Persons of Ukraine and to USAID for providing help, understanding and overall support, because it is not easy to reconcile life in a new place for a large family, especially in the countryside,” said Babych.

The TEAM project, which runs from September 2015 through June 2019, currently operates in four countries: Ukraine, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. So far the project has benefited over 2,400 Ukrainians, including more than 250 children.


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