As 1 September was approaching, children across the country were looking forward to going back to school and meeting their friends after a long summer break. Children living in places along the contact line are returning to school too. Some of them may dream about a new backpack, some about a beautiful school uniform or a trendy pencil case. But they all share one common dream – to simply to go to school in peace, like so many of their peers who live far from shooting and explosions.
We decided to support families with children who live along the contact line on the non-government controlled areas of Lugansk by distributing school kits with everything needed for school children from first to fourth grade. In total, some 1,250 children in 55 villages in the Lugansk area received school kits before school bells rang on 1 September.
Residents of Donetskiy, a village in the vicinity of the contact line, are exposed to risk and can regularly hear the shooting. The local school has been damaged and has not been working since the beginning of the conflict. As a result, children have to go for seven kilometers to reach the next closest school in a neighboring town. Diana will go to school for the first time. “I have seen the school only from afar… I have not been there yet, but I can’t wait to start studying”. If the security situation is calm, a school bus will take Diana to school, where a new page of her life starts.
Ivan’s mom Valentina received a school kit for him. She says her son is looking forward to going to the second grade. His favorite subject is physical education, but for the time being an illness will not allow him to attend these classes.
Andrey from the village of Golubovskoe will also start his second grade this year. He likes mathematics and, after seeing the content of the school kit, he started to calculate numbers of pens and pencils in it. “Even scissors are here!” – he rejoiced. Andrey promised his mother to share the paint with his younger sister, who likes drawing. Saying a goodbye to our team, he said that he would be waiting to see us again in a year.
Sonia and Vlada from Frunze are happily showing the content of the kits to each other. They are among 14 first grade school children of the village who will go to school for the first time in their life. The local school is still under reconstruction, after being damaged in the conflict, but 126 children are ready to start a new school year against all the odds.
The eight-year old Bogdan from Pervomaisk wants to become an artist when he grows up. He is already an excellent drawer, but his mother can’t send him to an art school because of the lack of money and a long distance from home. Bogdan was happy to receive paint, sketchbooks and brushes, as before he used to have only a pen and a pencil for drawing. Bogdan drew a teddy bear for our team as a keepsake.
Yulia Yurievna is a teacher of mathematics in one of the Pervomaisk schools. “She is my favorite teacher”, said Alina, after drawing her teacher with colorful chalks on the asphalt in front of school.
Approximately 500 school children from the Pervomaisk town gathered with their parents to receive school kits on 31 August. In order to make the distribution more fun and the wait less tiresome, our team organized games – some kids were drawing, others were playing ball, and yet others were depicting whatever they liked on the board with markers.
Children looked happy. Our own team also felt happy, reminiscing of their own school days for a moment.