While some children are adapting well, others are disorientated and unhappy. For the majority, education is severely disrupted. We are offering SOS families some breathing space in the relative security of Kiev.
Growing together in tough times
For three months, SOS parents Olga and Aleksandr have been living out of town with their three boys, Sasha, Dima and Vlad. For a few weeks, they were in the heart of the conflict zone. Even now, with the front line many miles away, they continue to suffer the consequences of war. Although they have food, gas and water, their village remains without electricity.
Nevertheless, this little family is trying to make the best of the extra time they have together; spending weekdays as a group when they would normally be at work and school. Aleksandr has been reading to the children, and the boys have been helping out with household chores – their favourite pastime is feeding the ducks and geese!
When Lyudmila visits, she is surprised by how much they have grown in the months that have passed since Lugansk was evacuated. She is also moved to find that the war has brought out the best in the children. “The oldest boy, Vlad, has become more attentive to his brothers,” says Lyudmila. “The three boys are experiencing new feelings; a sense of kinship which they never had before.”
Education on hold for quarter of a million
Fourteen-year-old Ksenya has struggled to adapt to her new home in Kharkov, where she and her SOS parents Svetlana and Oleg are staying at a friend's apartment. Ksenya was a new addition to the SOS family when they evacuated Lugansk in May.
“A few days before she joined Svetlana's and Oleg's family, her younger brother was evacuated to Odessa,” says Lyudmila. “She is worried that she will never see him again.”
Despite her anxieties, moving to Kharkov has meant that Ksenya has been able to start school on time this year. For children in the conflict zone, education is on hold. Term is due to start in October – a month late – but many schools are not expected to open at all. In total, 900 schools in Lugansk and Donetsk provinces remained closed during September, disrupting the education of 270,000 children.
Planning ahead for families under pressure
With normality disrupted in Lugansk, we are inviting evacuated SOS families to leave wartorn eastern Ukraine for the security of Kiev. Here, they can benefit from undisrupted SOS services and support from psychologists and social workers to help them move on after the trauma of living in a warzone. Two families have agreed to take a temporary break in the capital, while another has decided to make a permanent home at the Children's Village in Brovary on the outskirts of Kiev.
As well as making long-term plans for SOS families from Lugansk, we will continue to support refugee families in dire need. We will begin by providing support for 200 children in the town of Starobilsk, located in northern Lugansk.
If you are inspired to make a difference at this challenging time, there's no better way you can help than by sponsoring a child. This way, you will help give a vulnerable Ukrainian child a family, a home, and all the support they need to grow and flourish:
Not ready? Find out more about sponsoring a child.