Warm mugs of coffee, pastries, pizzas and sunny scenes painted on the walls – Cafe Vytaniya is a welcoming place. Its bold red and yellow sign might draw in anyone walking down the street in Drohobych, Uktraine. But as of 24 February 2022, it’s not just anyone who finds comfort here. Since war broke out, the cafe has become a hub for internally displaced Ukrainians.
“When the war started, it was difficult for everyone psychologically,” said Liuba Koval, administrator of the cafe “In the first days of the war, out of 12 people, only three of us worked. We just started to meet immigrants. The bus arrived, and there were so many people that it was impossible to count them. We treated them to tea, coffee, cookies, whatever we had. And everyone had their own painful story. Everyone needed support and someone to listen to them and to help at least with kind words.”
The cafe used a unique funding initiative to go beyond ‘kind words.’ They purchased additional kitchen equipment to facilitate and speed up work, and paid utility bills and employee salaries. This financial support came from the Ukrainian Social Venture Fund, operating within the framework of the Social Enterprises for Emergency grant program, and set up within the Collaborate for Impact project. Cafe Vytaniya was one of thirteen social enterprises that received support.
This collaborative funding effort made the vision of a social café for displaced persons a reality you can taste.