March 23, 2022

“Children need help to feel more alive”

“Children need help to feel more alive” is what parents and partner organisations are telling us, and why our activities and games are so important. Our Together programme, run since 2009, is helping children to laugh and recover some normal emotions in their lives which are turned upside down by war. This also brings our volunteers and refugees together in a “volunteer family” where they feel a part of something and able to help.

On March 13th our Together programme could restart after the interruption caused when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th. Despite a bomb falling within the Lviv Region, our volunteers went to bring smiles to children. There have been four programmes since then, reaching 50 children from Family Style Orphanages, refugees and vulnerable families; these programmes will continue at least once a week and are in high demand. Refugee shelters in the region are housing hundreds of children from Zaporizhzhia, Kiev, Kharkiv and other war zones, and welcome our help.

Children’s anxiety about the war can be seen in their behaviour: clinging to parents or carers, finding it hard to talk, and therapists find children are reluctant to engage. Trauma has a way of numbing the senses. That is why our games, sports and trained volunteers can make such a difference. Our activity plans have been honed over years of practice and some are specifically for children who experienced trauma.

“After your activities children have happiness, they see that it’s ok to live and enjoy themselves.”

School has shifted to online learning since the start of the war. As in the pandemic times, some children are at a disadvantage because they don’t have access to a laptop, so we supply laptops, tablets or phones when we can.

Joining our regular volunteers are teenagers and young people who are refugees. Teenage boys have enjoyed helping to move the large volumes of aid, which reduces strain on the men on our team. One girl who visited our office to get help with food and hygiene supplies enjoyed the chance to talk and laugh with our team. She said:

“I came to get help, but I want to help you too.”

We see that our volunteers, and refugees, cope better when they have the chance to talk and to feel a part of something positive. At weekly online meetings our volunteers share what’s happening, discuss plans, and talk about what they are experiencing with people who understand, which keeps spirits up.

Of our 120 current volunteers, 35 have been especially active, helping by:

  • Transporting people to hostels, the border, or for medical care
  • Sorting and delivering humanitarian aid
  • Giving children attention at our hostels or in our Together activity programmes

Art Therapy with child psychologist Olena Petrushkevych is part of our ongoing plans to continue reaching vulnerable children with not just food, but also the play and social support needed to help them through this time.

Donations pay for activity materials, transport, therapist consultations, and a new daily stipend for volunteers who have lost their jobs. We are improving wellbeing, along with the large-scale aid for food, shelter and transport. Every donation helps to give children hope for the future.

Give time

It's easy to do and we'll show you how! You can simply share our news or lend your skills and expertise. You can also challenge yourself with a fundraiser or introduce us to your school, church or workplace.