New friendships and summer camps for refugee children from Ukraine
It has been 6 months since the escalation of the international armed conflict in Ukraine on the 24th February earlier this year. 6 months on and there is still no safe place for children in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine had caused the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. Our teams are on the ground in Ukraine, in neighbouring countries such as Poland and Romania, as well as right across Europe to support the needs of children and their families. Our humanitarian response teams and programmes are working tirelessly to help children and families who have been affected by this crisis, wherever they are. This includes children like Myron*.
Myron* is 10 years old and is originally from the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. When the war escalated, they packed their things and embarked on an arduous journey. They managed to get on a bus, travelled through many fields and down many roads before they made it to Poland.
Myron* is now attending a Summer Camp in Poland supported by Save the Children. At the camp children from Poland and Ukraine come together to help them form new friendships in their community. The children can play sports, do crafts, relax and practice their Polish language skills. The children from Ukraine also have the support of psychologists to help with them with their mental health and wellbeing after experiencing war and being displaced from their homes.
Myron* really loves riding his scooter and has learned many tricks. Here is Myron’s story in his own words:
How I got to Poland? I'll have to remember it. At the beginning, we were in our city, in Zaporizhzhia region. Then, a friend that I don't know called my mum and said: “Leave!” First Mum said that we were doing OK, but then we quickly gathered our things.
So we left the city and went to smaller cities. Then we were going through some fields. At the beginning, it was quite dangerous. And we were heading towards Mariupol. Then they didn't want to let us in, we were sitting on the bus for two to three hours. We took another way, there were more checkpoints. Then we took yet another road, and we continued through the fields. Then we finally got to Lviv, and then to Poland.
In Poland there are many skate parks, cafes, and ways to spend time. At home I have a scooter, and in the evenings I go riding. Since the time that I have arrived, I have learned a few tricks. If we go to my place, I will show you. I have learned to do a manual, 180 and no foot trick.
I live here, I spend time in the playground and on September 1st I will go to school. Krakow is very nice.
Here [at Save the Children’s summer camp] I became friends with two girls, we sit and do things. And other than that, I can talk to everyone. I have been at a summer camp before but is was not as much fun as here.
Myron and his friend Daria* sew at the summer camp supported by Save the Children in Poland.
On the first day I was a bit shy, but then I was not shy any more, I could speak freely with everyone, except the Polish kids. And that's it. I don't know what else to say. Because they don't speak our language, and I don't know theirs, so I can't speak Polish normally. And their games have slightly different rules than ours, so I don't quite understand their rules. Sometimes the games are also called different things in Poland and Ukraine.
It is very cool here [at the camp]. But yesterday for dinner there were grains with meat. I ate the grain but didn't like the meat. Otherwise, it's cool. There is table tennis. So I was playing table tennis, and I have managed to knock the ball fifty or fifty two times with my racket. I have my rackets with me, and a ball. I could show you.
Myron playing table tennis at the summer camp supported by Save the Children in Poland.
Some time ago I liked football, but I stopped going to trainings. Now I like computer games more. You know, there is a game called "Stumble Guys". I would like to go to a tournament and play this game. It is a competition where you play games.
I have heard that there is no homework in Polish school. And I hope there will be many Ukrainians that will help me adapt quickly in Polish school. And that many Ukrainians will be there.
Am I looking forward to Polish school? Not particularly. In fact, I am a bit scared.
The best moment – new friendships with everyone. And getting to know the psychologist. The best thing was getting to know everyone on the first day. Then, on the first, second or third day we started playing table tennis. Since the first day, it was my favourite activity. These were the best moments during the sports activities. I would like to thank the people who made this camp possible.
Myron* is one of more than 10 million people that have fled the violence in Ukraine to other countries.
Save the Children is scaling up our response in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, and across Europe. We are working closely with partners to provide life-saving assistance such as food and water, cash transfers, and safe spaces, to make sure children and families impacted by this crisis have the support they need, as we have been doing since 2014.
How can I help children in Ukraine?
Conflict is raging across the world: from Syria to Yemen to Ukraine. And there’s no end in sight. The war on children continues.
They are on the frontline of an unprecedented global humanitarian crisis and their right to survival, protection and education is under immediate threat. Conflict means hunger, poverty, danger, no healthcare, loss of education and fear. They need our help today, more than ever. Donate today and with your support we can help millions of children in their darkest hour.