The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Anna Pokhyla, painter

Restoring hope: Women leading school reconstruction in Ukraine

In the wake of destruction caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, an all-women construction team is playing a pivotal role in the restoration of a school in Kharkiv, one of over 80 schools being rehabilitated as part of a European Union-funded initiative, supported by UNOPS.

Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine has severely disrupted the country’s educational system, and has left approximately 900,000 children having to rely on remote learning amid frequent power outages. With funding from the European Union Humanitarian Aid Operation, UNOPS is helping to repair over 80 schools across four regions, with the aim of creating a safe place to which students can return and benefit from face-to-face learning.

Anna Pokhyla, painter

"Our children don't attend school because of the war,” shared Anna Pokhyla.

“The electricity goes out, classes are held online, but sometimes there’s no lessons at all because there is no power."
Share this

As part of the project, a dedicated team of 16 women who specialize in painting and plastering are currently working on repairing a school in the city of Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine. The team, many of whom are former students or parents of children who attended the school, brings a personal commitment to their task.

“Our team is close-knit. We have been working together for many years,” explains Svitlana Huzenko.

“We renovate schools, kindergartens and houses. We are renovating this school now. We've installed windows and are currently conducting interior repair work,” she adds.
Share this
The team working in the corridor of a school in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Share this
A team member paints around the newly installed windows at the school.
Share this
A painter applying the finishing touches to the corridor wall.
Share this
A worker mixes paint before applying it to the corridor walls.
Share this

The initiative is not just about conducting physical repairs. It is also helping to revitalize community spirit and provide a renewed sense of hope and enthusiasm for students eager to return to the classroom.

"Whereas before, children might not have wanted to go to school, preferring holidays and staying at home to play, now they dream of resuming their studies in person as soon as possible and sitting at their desks again," explains Inna Chernova.
Share this

The initiative is also providing the local women involved in the rebuilding process with much-needed employment opportunities. This is especially important during a time when many men from the community are located elsewhere due to the war.

Anna reflects on her career change: "I wasn't always a painter, I worked as a saleswoman. Then I came here, and little by little, everything fell into place and I learned."


In Ukraine, an all-women construction team is helping to repair a school damaged by the war. It is one of more than 80 schools that are being rehabilitated as part of a project funded by the European Union.

As schools are being repaired and rebuilt, so too are the lives of those affected by the conflict – ensuring that the children of Ukraine can look forward to a brighter future where education is once again safe and accessible.

The project is not only rebuilding schools but is also strengthening the resilience of communities for challenges ahead.

About the project

The "Schools Repairs in Ukraine" project, funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid Operations and implemented by UNOPS, aims to restore educational facilities that have been damaged by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. This initiative, which will cost $30 million, focuses on the regions of Chernihiv, Kyiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv, targeting schools that require light to medium repair work.

The primary goal of this project is to provide access to repaired school facilities which will increase the proportion of children receiving face-to-face education. By rehabilitating more than 80 schools, the project will help restore facilities to a safe and welcoming environment where children can continue their education without interruption.

Global Goal we are supporting through this initiative:

Explore further