The reflection of six years of the conflict in the eyes of children. Polina
Today, we are going to present you the story of 14-year-old Polina from Nyzhnie settlement, eastern Ukraine This young girl was in the first grade when the conflict started in 2014. She did not leave the settlement at any point. Polina lives with her mom, a cat and a rabbit Oniks. Polina enjoys reading in her free time, and despite being pretty calm, she completely transforms on the volleyball field. Volleyball is not only her distraction but she would like to do it professionally. She regrets that it is not always safe to play outside. Together with her friends, who were inspired by Polina to play volleyball, they mostly gather in their school gym, which they see as the real zone of peace.
“When everything started, I was a little girl, and I did not understand everything, but it was terrifying, when tanks were riding, and we were sitting in a basement, or when we with my mom were sitting at home and another shelling started, the windows and doors were shaking. The rockets used to fall down even in our settlement. It was very scary, and we would sit on the floor, with a fear that your house might be hit.
However, I have volleyball which helps me get distracted. I fully concentrate on a ball, on rules in order to win. It is very simple game, you can play everywhere, you only need a net and a ball, of course. Also, it helps me to develop some features, such as team game, attentiveness and agility. When I play volleyball, I completely loosing myself to it, I forget about stress, shooting. When I feel bad, I just go and play and it helps.
Of course, when shelling starts, you do not want to go outside. Previously we could go to the local stadium and play, and now we sit at home, because it is dangerous to be outside.
I want to start playing volleyball professionally after I leave, and I am going to leave this place.
I also joined the School Safety Committee and it helps me improve my emotional wellbeing. I got acquainted with Save the Children through trainings of their partner organization Avalist. I feel so calm with them, they do not put pressure on us, and they can and do provide support. Then, I started to get interested in the School Safety Committee. We solve different safety issues. Upon our decision, we had the new doors installed, for instance. Also the relations between students, teachers and parents are improving."
Save the Children with the financial support of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) established Schools Safety Committees in schools along the contact line in the east of Ukraine. Schools Safety Committees predominantly work on risk mapping and mitigation, as well as improvement of the safety in school through activities led by the Committee. Children like Polina together with adults create a risk map of their school and community which is a learning process for all the community members about risks and ways of mitigating them. Schools Safety Committee prevents children from feeling powerless and gives them a chance to exercise their right to be heard and to have their views taken into account. Those videos are the confirmation of the successes we achieved in empowering children we work with and for.
“Regarding the plans for the future, I want to graduate from school with good marks, to enter a good university, to build up a good carrier and my dream is peace, that the shelling stops, so that everything could be fine,” says Polina.
Watch the video-story of Polina which is the examples of the successes we achieved in empowering children we work with and for.