06.02.2022 – 10:30
SOS Children’s Villages worldwide
After the hostilities had subsided in recent years, many people in Luhansk grew hope for peace. But now the war is threatening to escalate again, threatening the lives of 2.9 million people – including 430,000 children. In an interview, the director of SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine, Serhii Lukashov, reports on the situation on site.
How are people in eastern Ukraine dealing with the current events?
Lukashov: “As relaxed as it is possible in such an exceptional situation. Very few people prepare to flee, most want to stay: When it all started in 2014, we still panicked, but now people are saying: ‘There is constant gunshots, rumours, fear. It’s all terrible, but we can’t always panic.’ They’ve been living in this state for quite a long time. They’ve had to develop a thick skin to be able to keep going on a day-to-day basis.”
Maintaining such a protective posture for years must be very tiring. Does this pass people by without a trace?
Lukashov: “Of course not. But on the one hand, this attitude is necessary in order to somehow be able to cope with everyday life in a crisis area. On the other hand, it is also worrying because it could be a sign of emotional exhaustion in people.”
Do the local people receive psychological help from the SOS Children’s Villages?
Lukashov: “We have provided comprehensive help to children and families for years, including educational and psychological support.”
What is being done urgently in the current situation?
Lukashov: “We have taken emergency precautionary measures: we have secured food packages for each SOS foster family and for the families of our employees in case the emergency occurs suddenly and they cannot be evacuated in time. This way they would have food and water at home for many days, until the situation calms down.”
How are the children in the region doing?
Lukashov: “The situation is unacceptable for the children in the Donbass. They have anything but a normal childhood: they have been living under constant stress since 2014 and had to spend a lot of time isolated from other children. Then in 2020 the corona pandemic came along. Well they are even more isolated. The most serious impact for children and young people is the cancellation of classes or even dropping out of school. Especially in small villages in remote areas where there is no internet and no notebooks, this is a big problem in our society will affect for many years as these children grow up with large educational gaps.”
The children in the SOS programs receive catch-up lessons and, thanks to donations, could also be equipped with devices and materials for distance learning. But not all children in the region could be cared for. What does that mean for you?
Lukashov: “They are in a difficult situation: What should their future look like? Unfortunately, I doubt that they will be able to catch up on what they missed in class. Without education, they lose their chance of a good job and an independent life! We will have a generation of children who don’t get a large part of their education. It’s a big national problem.”
Even if no renewed hostilities ignite, people live at constant risk. What active dangers are still lurking alongside the latent fear?
Lukashov: “For example, mines can explode at any time! Just yesterday, my colleagues from Luhansk told me that one of our children had told them that they wanted to go into the forest with friends. But since our employees had warned about the mine contamination, we went not with it. Some of the friends were injured by explosives a little later. At least one more child was protected by our educational work. It goes on and on, little by little. And we will not stop helping the children!”
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Original content from: SOS Children’s Villages worldwide, transmitted by news aktuell