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In Ukraine on the Side of Children

AVSI's response in Ukraine for the past 2 years

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine (February 24, 2022), millions of people have left their homes to escape the bombing and found shelter in safer areas within their own country or abroad. AVSI immediately took action to help them.

Operating in Ukraine since 2014, thanks to the collaboration with the local organization Emmaus, an AVSI team has been present since the outbreak of war. In the first two years of the war, AVSI helped more than 180 thousand people in the oblasts of Dinipro, Kharkiv, Lviv (Lviv), Poltava, Sumy, Zaporižžja.

The Educational Emergency in Ukraine

In Ukraine, we have seen and experienced that it is possible to be on the side of children and defend their rights under two conditions: firstly, it is essential to consider the integral needs of individuals, this includes medical and psychological care, attention and play, food, shelter, and above all, education; secondly, thinking of individuals as part of their community, within their network of family, friends, and affection. A safe environment can only be created if all community components are activated.

Since the war began, over 500 Ukrainian children have lost their lives, and hundreds more have been injured. Thousands of educational centers have been bombed, many of them wholly destroyed (February 24). The war has caused trauma in all people and must be addressed immediately, starting with their daily needs, to prevent it from seriously impacting their future. Ukrainian schoolchildren face daily challenges due to power outages, lack of internet access, and inadequate heating systems, which limit their ability to participate fully in educational activities. At the same time, continuous bomb scares prevent these young ones from socializing and playing together.

Since the beginning of the crisis, AVSI has been working to ensure educational continuity for children and young people in Ukraine.

Children and young people living in the areas close to the front line – eastern and southern Ukraine – cannot attend school. Since the pandemic (February 2020), most have had distance learning as their only option, and attending classes online is often impossible. Only some have a digital means; in many areas, there is no internet coverage, and where there is, in winter, there is often a lack of electricity (hence light and connection).

This condition has created an educational emergency that AVSI addresses with an integrated approach between education, child protection, and protecting the most vulnerable. AVSI’s goal in Ukraine is to do everything possible to ensure that children and young people have access to education. It does this by adopting a multi-stakeholder approach and innovative solutions, working with local realities, which have direct access to children and knowledge of what they need.

AVSI's action to guarantee the right to education and help people cope with the trauma of war

UKRANIAN CHILDREN IN A DIGITAL LEARNING CENTER

During the first months of the war, we set up Child-friendly spaces within the reception centers for displaced people and in some schools in Kharkiv, Sumy, Vysokyi, Romny, and Pisochyn. We offered psycho-social support to children and their caregivers (parents, relatives, teachers, etc) to deal with the trauma of war together. We distributed distance learning materials and, where possible, set up Digital Learning Centers. In these safe spaces, children and young people can recreate the sociality destroyed by the conflict and follow lessons online.

Many schools in Ukraine have been closed for four years now. There are computers in the Digital Learning Centers; we provide a generator to connect them, and educators and teachers accompany the children.

Ukraine today: community centers for children and communities in frontline areas

Today, AVSI’s main activity in Ukraine is creating and launching Community Centers, spaces designed for children and their caregivers that can include services in response to specific community needs.

Community centers provide safe spaces for Ukrainian children to meet and play without any fear or anxiety. These centers also have trained educators who can offer psycho-social support to children and help them process any fears or trauma they may have experienced. We train teachers and educators and provide them with tools, kits, and resources to enter into dialogue with the little ones. Teachers and educators work in teams with social workers and psychologists to cope with the challenge of education in emergencies.

Activities in community centers

Most of the Community Centers launched by AVSI (50 as of February 2024) offer services for minors aged 3 to 18 years.

  • Recreational activities
  • remedial lessons and distance learning support (equipment, connection, and teaching support)
  • Mental health services and psycho-social support for minors, who are referred to services on the territory when needed.
  • We believe that parents and families are the primary educators and caregivers of children. However, they may also be experiencing challenges and require support. By providing them with the necessary backing, they can become a valuable resource for children and a source of security to start anew.

We work closely with local authorities and organizations to create a child-friendly, supportive, and aware environment. Our goal is to foster communities where individuals can view each other as an asset rather than an adversary.

Mobile teams: education and protection in remote areas

Where it is not possible to set up a community center – for security reasons or due to a lack of suitable space a team comprising of educators, social workers, and psychologists is periodically sent to remote areas in Ukraine to engage with children through play and educational activities, and to address the most urgent needs of the community.

DONATE TO SINGLE UKRAINIAN MOTHERS AND THERI CHLDREN IN ROMANIA

On February 24, 2024, it will have been exactly two years since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. From the very start of the conflict, FDP – Protagonisti in educatie, a long-term AVSI-USA partner in Romania, has aided Ukrainian single mothers with children who had nowhere else to go, and who are likely to remain in Bucharest indefinitely as they have lost everything and have no support back home. Today, FDP’s priorities include addressing the trauma of refugees and promoting social inclusion by providing them with art therapy sessions, recreational activities, Romanian language classes, and developing inclusive educational materials for schools. 

Together, we can make a meaningful impact on the lives of Ukrainian mothers and children who are seeking to rebuild their lives in this new place.

Humanitarian aid in Ukraine for displaced persons in reception centers in Lviv and Poltava

In the first year of the war, we distributed food and life-saving non-food items, personal hygiene and COVID-19 protection kits, money, and winter kits.

 

In the shelters (5 in Lviv and 28 in the Poltava region), we assisted in the coordination of volunteers, the census and registration of families, and identified and referred people with special needs or particular vulnerabilities (women, separated or unaccompanied minors, people with disabilities) to specific services.

We also equipped the 28 centers in the Poltava region with electric radiators and trained the educators of the five centers in Lviv on parenting support issues.

HUMANITARIAN AID IN UKRAINE. FOOD KIT DISTRIBUTION

Beyond humanitarian aid in Ukraine: AVSI's voice for Ukrainian children

It is imperative to acknowledge that the future of Ukrainian children is closely intertwined with our children’s future. That’s why we organize advocacy initiatives and awareness-raising events worldwide as part of the “Peace is Possible” campaign.

We cannot think ourselves safe if others are not. Peace is everyone's or no one's.

Ukrainian refugees: projects to support them in Italy and Poland

With the beginning of the war in Ukraine, thousands of people crossed the border into Europe, mainly women, older people, and children. Thanks to AVSI’s network in Poland, Romania, and Moldova, we have guaranteed help to Ukrainians in transit and those who have chosen to stay.

In Poland, AVSI collaborates with AVSI Polska, a Polish organization and founding member of AVSI. After the first emergency interventions, AVSI’s activity focused on integration through the work in cooperation with companies on the territory and with the support of private donors.

In Italy, an initiative was established to aid individuals fleeing the war in Ukraine. The initiative involved creating a central point for information and coordination, which allowed for support services to be centralized for Ukrainian refugees and connecting those offering help with those in need. Eventually, the initiative found a permanent home in a space located in Milan. On May 16, 2022, the HUB Help Ukraine was inaugurated, and it now serves as the headquarters of AVSI for the community that continues to support Ukrainians in Italy.


*What are the oblasts of Ukraine?

The regions of Ukraine (Ukrainian: області – oblasti; sing. область – oblast’) constitute the first-level territorial subdivision of the country and there are 24 in total. Since the beginning of the war, AVSI has worked in 7 oblasts of eastern Ukraine: Donetsk, Dinipro, Kharkiv, Lviv (Lviv), Poltava, Sumy, Zaporižžja

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