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The foundation of a new future: construction begins on two more family-style small group homes in Ukraine


Eesti pani nurgakivi
A delegation from Estonia and representatives from the city of Zhytomyr, Ukraine, laid the cornerstones for two family-style small group homes on Saturday, June 1st.

These homes will provide safe and modern living conditions for two large foster families raising children orphaned by the war. 

By the end of 2024, Estonia will have built three family-style small group homes worth a total of 1.97 million euros. The first was completed earlier this spring, and now two more families will have a new home before Christmas. The Olena Zelenska Foundation has selected the recipients of these new homes, and they were present to participate in the cornerstone-laying event. 

Nurgakivi asetamine Eesti perekodule Ukrainas

According to Margus Gering, ESTDEV’s head of Cooperation and Development for Ukraine, when the families were told of the new homes last autumn, they did not believe construction would get underway so quickly. About half a year later, these families have laid the cornerstone of their future home. “With construction mix and trowels, the foundation for a new future was laid," Gering said.

Estonia’s minister of Foreign Affairs, Margus Tsahkna, participated in the ceremony and reiterated Estonia’s dedication to rebuilding Ukraine, saying, “Supporting children who have suffered in the war is our priority because these children have paid the highest price—their homes and their childhoods. Estonia's support for building family-style small group homes is an important step in rebuilding Ukraine.”

Nurgakivi asetamine Eesti perekodule Ukrainas

Gering said that cooperation with the city and region of Zhytomyr has gone smoothly throughout the project. "Our help is greatly appreciated, and Ukrainians admire our thoughtful, decisive actions. We can say the same about our Ukrainian partners. They work quickly and have shown a willingness to cooperate and be transparent in their activities," he said.

The family-style small group home project combines the best of Estonian know-how in spatial planning, construction culture and the foster family system, as Estonia will also provide training for foster parents and social workers to support the reorganisation of the Ukrainian social welfare system according to European Union standards. The home design was chosen from an open competition organised by ESTDEV, the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Architects' Union. The firm DAGOpen won with its HATA design, a 212-square-metre house with seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a concrete bomb shelter in the yard. The Ukrainian company LLC "Alexander & I" and the Estonian company KMT Prefab OÜ won the construction tender. 

This is the third large-scale reconstruction project in Ukraine supported by Estonian development cooperation. A year ago, a kindergarten was completed in the town of Ovruch, and in October, the Malyn Bridge, which connects north- and south-going roads in Ukraine, was reopened. In addition to the three Estonian-designed homes, Estonia has also provided the Olena Zelenska Foundation with financing for a fourth home in the Zhytomyr Region, which was also completed this spring as part of the “Room for Childhood” initiative.

Photos of the opening ceremony