Every morning Lilia hurries to the building of a non-functional business center, situated in Marinka midtown. Here she installs a small tent and sets up her simple selection of commodities: felt boots, mittens, cups and some personal care items on a small counter. “I deal with the most essential goods so that people do not have to go to another city to buy a pair of warm socks,” explains Lilia. “My working day only lasts till early afternoon. It is not safe to stay longer because of the shelling here. And it is impossible to spend more than four or five hours outside due to the cold weather. The money I earn from my small trading is worth it, however, but only enough to buy me and my mother some food and essential medicines”.

ICRC/Yevgen Nosenko

Up until 2014, Lilia rented commercial space in Marinka trade center together with some other local private entrepreneurs. When, as a result of the conflict, Marinka became one of the hottest spots on the map of the Donetsk Region, business opportunities died out almost completely. A number of entrepreneurs continued to work for a while in the center in spite of multiple daily shellings, broken windows and electricity outages but were forced to close down completely when large caliber projectile heavily damaged the roof and the top level of the building. Lilia was among the few who decided to continue selling her wares outside the walls of the damaged business center.

On hearing of this story, the ICRC team, as part of their efforts to help restart essential businesses in the region, decided to help the owners to bring the building back to life. “We are planning to entirely refurbish the damaged roof and replace all of the damaged windows. Moreover, we intend to provide the private entrepreneurs with 19 individual grants to recover their businesses,” – says Maria Panaciy, ICRC Economic Security Officer from Mariupol Sub-Delegation.

ICRC/Yevgen Nosenko. View from the rebuilt window of the business centre.

Meanwhile, Lilia is looking forward to the moment when the renovated trade center starts to receive visitors and clients again and no longer have to take the sometimes arduous journey from Marinka for essential items. Besides, the woman strongly believes in a better future: “I truly believe that everything will be fine because every day brings us closer to the now long-awaited peace”.