Ludmila Ovrah from Irpen: “I didn’t believe I would ever live in my house again, but it happened!”

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Ludmila Ovrah from Irpen: “I didn’t believe I would ever live in my house again, but it happened!”

The story of an artist who was able to overcome despair and begin painting again 

Volodymyr Bahnenko 

Mila moved to Irpen in 1996, young and happy, ready to build a new life. Back then it was already a beautiful green town that was slowly expanding. Irpen always had lots of parks and squares, and more recently, young families began settling down. She often rode her bike through town and couldn’t get enough of the beauty around her.

Людмила Оврах вже після звільнення Ірпеня тримає власноруч зроблену ладонь з написом

Ludmila Ovrah stands after the liberation of Irpen with her handmade palm, inscribed with the word “peace” in English. Photo: Anastasia Bahnenko 

The first days of war 

Mila didn’t believe war would come right up until the end. She would go to bed at home and think, “how nice it is to lie in your own warm bed!”  Then all of the sudden things became very difficult and scary.

When the shooting began, she moved to the basement, where she spent the first few weeks of the war. 

It was very cold, and she got sick. 

Mila and her family fell asleep every night to the sound of guns. They thought about leaving, but it was impossible with the constant shooting outside and fears inside. Then finally, at the end of March, they decided they couldn’t wait any longer. The car was overflowing. Behind them were explosions. Everyone in the car cried. 

But they were able to get to Skvyra, a town in the Kyiv region. 

And she stayed there until May.

Returning and rebuilding 

When Mila returned, it was very painful to look at everything. The city had been destroyed. But it was most painful to look at her house. When she told us this, she began to cry. 

Missiles had landed in her yard from all four sides. Not a single window remained intact. The roof had completely collapsed. Everything in the yard was damaged: the well, the buckets. Her things were strewn across the yard. But nothing had been stolen. The first week she grieved. Then she pulled herself together and began creating.

Walls, fences – everything became a canvas. 

Міла почала творити ззовні, попри відчай всередині

Mila began to create on the outside, despite the despair inside. Photo: Anastasia Bahnenko

Mila drew the sun, sky, water, happiness, and wrote inspirational phrases. It gave her strength and drive. She created comfort and peace in her yard. 

But there was no money for renovations. There simply was nowhere to borrow or even earn money. There were so few resources that the family decided to pave over their windows with brick. 

У відчаї Міла вирішила закласти вікна цеглою.

In despair Mila decided to pave over her windows with brick. “At least this way it wouldn’t be cold,” she said. Photo: Anastasia Bahnenko

It was also very difficult to constantly be disappointed. Because they had nothing, they went to the local authorities for help. They went frequently, walking the whole way, but were told to come back the following week. And then the week after that. Without any results. 

Right at that moment, Realis’ fund was looking for families and individuals who needed help repairing their homes. 

Mila was one of those who really needed help and couldn’t rebuild on her own. One day the rector of her church called and told her there were people who wanted to help. He asked her to send a photo of the destroyed house. 

Hope returns 

Soon after she got a call from some people who wanted to come look at the house. When they arrived, they didn’t measure anything, as previous contractors and authorities had done. They just looked and talked. And all of the sudden she felt very warm inside. 

She even named them “Kind hands” in her phone. And then they called her back and told her they would repair her roof.  

She didn’t believe them until the builders showed up. 

They worked quickly, installing all the windows and rebuilding her roof, finishing just in time. The house was completed right before freezing temperatures hit. It’s warm and cozy, and stands proudly with new windows and a roof.


Дах відбудовано, нові вікна стоять і в домі тепер затишно і тепло.

The roof is rebuilt, new windows are installed, and the house is now warm and cozy. Photo: Anastasia Bahnenko

Now it’s warm in the house and peaceful in the soul. 

Now Mila is confident that she will be able to spend this winter in peace. 


Date: 01.12.2022