Let kids be kids... isn’t that how the saying goes? Giving children the freedom to play, run, laugh, and go to school with their friends...
What happens if a kid living in the middle of conflict is forced to live in an underground shelter to hide from the constant threat of explosions? Or if a child is injured by shelling and being treated in a hospital without the right supplies, only to find out they’re the sole survivor of their family. It’s hard to just be a kid in situations like these. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for more than half of Ukraine's 7.5 million children who have been forced to flee their homes to escape the war.
The last few months have taken away many of the simple things that brought Ukrainian kids happiness. Thankfully, with the support of amazing UNICEF donors, we have been able to provide access to more than 400,000 children with temporary learning amongst all the chaos, destruction and heartbreak.
This has brought moments of joy back into their lives, letting them be exactly what they should be...kids being kids.
Nine-year-old Viktoriia and her friend eight-year-old Miroslava giggle away in class momentarily forgetting the world outside of their shelter.
Their makeshift school is in a part of a subway station bunker in Kharkiv where they are sheltering with their families.
Ukrainian subways have become long-term homes for children scarred by war. With help from regular donors, UNICEF has been able to partner with NGOs and youth organisations to reach kids who are having to live their childhood underground.
“We find ways to have fun here. That’s the best thing about this place – my friends and the activities we can do,” Viktoriia says.
Ten-year-old Sonia is also living in an underground subway and was spotted playing with her classmates while they rehearse a play she wrote for a group class that is led by volunteers in Kharkiv with UNICEF support. Meanwhile, Vadym, 14, was able to continue his mathematics lessons on a platform of the metro station.
Other child-friendly spots have also been established like in Zaporizhzhia, a city in South-Eastern Ukraine. Here stationary, recreational, and educational kits are being provided to families with children at the UNICEF-supported collective center.
It’s also a safe space taking in families that have been on the move where they can receive essential food and services.
The center means nine-year-old Maryana can get immersed in her chalk drawings during the daytime. Before she arrived here with her family, they hid in their basement for a long time, and Maryana often heard the sounds of shelling. All she dreams about is peace. “I really want things to be calm,” she says.
In Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, free creative classes are being held for children and teenagers and are run by volunteers from the UNICEF-supported charity Dobrodii Club. The classes not only offer children a place to have fun and make friends but also give adults a break and a chance to breathe.
Support from UNICEF donors has also reached children who have managed to flee from Ukraine and have crossed over to neighboring countries for safer refuge. These are children like Liza who fled the war with her teacher and her friend and came to Bucharest where she is now studying in a school.
Thanks to generous Kiwi’s, many children, like Liza are receiving a bag with school supplies that contain notebooks, colored pencils, and a painting pallete, that will help her to continue her education.
Regular donor support has also given children wider access to various emergency aid and health services during the war.
Here is an overall snapshot of how regular donors are making an impact:
UNICEF donors have helped nearly 2.1 million children & women receive life-saving medical supplies.
Over 2.5 million people have been given access to safe and clean water. At least 465,000 families have been reached with additional sanitation and hygiene supplies.
Thirty-two Blue Dot centers, which are child and family support hubs in refugee list countries, were opened to provide a safe space for Ukrainian children and their families. Blue Dot centers are operating with the capacity to reach up to 1,000 people each day, providing essential food, water, and protection services for children and families and have targeted support for kids who have been separated from loved ones.
Up to 900,000 children and caregivers have received psychosocial support for trauma to help them heal from the internal scars of the war.
As fighting continues and intensifies, we still need your help.
Ongoing donations mean we can continue to engage with volunteers, and educators working on the frontline with children every day. We can also continue to distribute emergency resources, and critical aid for children to address the impacts of war. Most importantly, more support will bring smiles and laughter back into their days giving kids a chance to just be kids again.
To donate please head over to our Ukraine Emergency Appeal page.
Please donate to help more Ukrainian kids in the greatest need