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Inside a Lviv apartment building, AP team gives a glimpse of life for displaced Ukrainians

Dr. Marta Kopan, 38 weeks pregnant, holds her 6-year-old son Nazar, April 3, 2022, at an apartment in Lviv, western Ukraine, loaned to them by a cousin after the family fled their home in Kyiv. The place in Kyiv where Marta was meant to give birth was bombed. Her birth plan, like almost everything else, was left behind. (AP Photo / Nariman El-Mofty)

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Through the lens of a single apartment building in western Ukraine, an all-formats AP team gave the world a deeply personal glimpse into the lives of the millions of people being displaced by war.

“I want my normal life,” said Nazar Kopan, a 6-year-old boy whose parents are doctors and wanted to stay in the country to help. Though he knows better, he sometimes asks to return home to Kyiv.

London-based news director Susie Blann wanted to tell the story of how the city of Lviv had welcomed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who had been driven from their homes by war but had chosen to remain in their country.

Driver/fixer Yevhen Potoplyak was among those who had given up his home to house another family and described countless others who had done the same. It seemed to Blann that the best way to tell the larger story was to look behind the doors of one apartment block,to see who was now living there and how they had come to do so.

Getting enough people in one block to talk proved difficult. Working with Potoplyak, they chased numerous contacts — and contacts of contacts — trying to find families that felt comfortable enough telling their stories and letting the AP into their temporary homes.

Their last contact was at the block on Trylovskoho Boulevard. They’d heard about families there from Irpin,Kyiv and Kharkiv but needed to spend time with them to build trust.

Blann and photographer Nariman El-Mofty initially met each of the families featured in the final story. Then,after briefing videographer Renata Brito and text reporter Cara Anna through about they’d learned and how the final piece might work,they returned as a group to get interviews on camera.

As soon as the women returned from reporting, El-Mofty set up a call with digital storyteller Natalie Castañeda to discuss the digital presentation.

El-Mofty and Brito waded through the hours of stills and video they’d shot,and Brito worked with another fixer,Hanna Arhirova,on translations for the video edit, while Anna laid down the first draft of her text. Castañeda packaged it all in a remarkable presentation,complemented by a social media plan.

For their tireless,resourceful work in demanding circumstances,the team of Blann,Anna,El-Mofty, Brito and Castañeda is the AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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