Ukrainian children 'left in the cold' while sheltering for violence
'Dad, is that a salute? – No, son, it’s the sound of an automatic fire burst' (sub-machine gun fire)
When you have children of your own, or you are professionally involved with children, you know that the academic year always starts in September. But what if you can't guarantee the safety of the children?
The first day of school is usually brightened with smiles, flowers and other joyful moments. But not in all countries this is the case. The eastern part of Ukraine is one of the few parts of Europe where these joyful moments nowadays can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
As you may know – In some eastern regions of Ukraine, the results of the conflict between the Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army are very tangible for quite some time now. In some districts, the situation is so desperate that people are happy to have windows left in their homes and rooftops that don't leak. Just like the citizens of the region, several educational institutions are suffering fiercely too .
The ever-repeating question
I have experienced this myself because I am in the conflict zone quite often because of my profession. Last month, I visited the local children and teachers to see how their lives are affected by the on-going military conflict.
It didn't take very long before one of the school teachers in Toretsk sensed my curiosity about the deteriorated circumstances. "Very often I get the question: 'How do you live under ATO (the anti-terroristic operation) for 2 years?'," he asked me without even blinking once.
Before I could even respond, the proud teacher already answered his own question. “Before we needed 15-17 minutes to set off the alarm and transfer all kids to our shelter. Now in the event of an emergency, we are securely inside the shelter within 7-10 minutes!”
What about the youngest pupils?
My feelings were torn apart after that first interview. I was astonished by the teacher's tranquil response to the ever-lurking threat hiding just outside around the corner. But moreover, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and professionalism driven by a teacher that is willing to go far beyond his regular duties, teaching children math, science and history.
"What about the younger children?", I asked the director of the same school.
In the smaller kindergartens, emergency situations are often a little easier to manage. In case the alarm sets off, the young children are gathered in a corner, hiding underneath mattresses and blankets.
Beyond the mortars and devastation
Incoming explosions and the constant fear of escalation are not the only worries that the personal of the affected schools are facing every day. All educational institutions have been on the verge of closing.
Due to the continuing use of violence, many buildings accommodating all the institutions did not meet the necessary safety requirements anymore, and 368 innocent children (spread over 4 schools) this year could just as easily lost their right to secondary education.
The heating systems of the 4 schools, located only 10 km from the fighting zone, were severely damaged or largely out of order after years of violence in the region. Because of the severe eastern winter temperatures, without heating, it would be impossible for children to follow their education.
UNICEF and ControlPay
Thanks to UNICEF and ControlPay Global Freight Audit – official Unicef partner in Ukraine – these children are not left in the cold, not now, and not it the future.
Together with UNICEF, we have managed to turn the heat back on again. With the purchase and installment of 12 professional boilers at 4 educational institutions (3 in each), we secured the possibility of education of 368 Ukrainian children and the livelihood of their teachers.
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To make sure that everything was carried out in the desired way, ControlPay's Corporate Social Responsibility Team personally visited all the schools and kindergartens, together with UNICED and the engineers to check everything. Now we are satisfied, the children are warm! Everything is working!
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