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13 April 2020 - News

The reflection of six years of the conflict in the eyes of children. Sophia

Sophia, 13 years old, a member of School Safety Committee in Toshkivka, East of Ukraine

The conflict in the East of Ukraine is ongoing, leaving its terrible consequences for children. Save the Children starts it`s social media campaign bringing about voices of children. This week, we are going to tell you 6 stories of 6 children about their experiences of 6 years of the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine. You will find out about their 6 coping mechanisms and 6 dreams for the future. 

This is a story of Sophia who lives in Toshkivka, Luhansk Oblast, the east of Ukraine. The settlement is located in around 7 km from the contact line. She vividly remembers the first memories about the beginning of the armed conflict in April 2014 and fleeing the violence. In Toshkivka, her mother managed to get back to her work in the local school and they came back home. Sophia does not think it is OK for children`s psychological state to completely adapt to the conflict. She does her best to relieve stress by doing hobbies, caring about her cat and dog, being activist in the Schools Safety Committee at her school, writing diaries and dreaming about the bright future.

“I am an eager learner. I love going to school. Apart from lessons, we managed to establish lots of extra-curricular activities despite the challenging situation we have in our settlement. They distract us from sad thoughts and protect our spirit. For instance, I cannot imagine my life without sports and dances. Going to some classes, I can hear shelling, and I think it is not OK to get used to this sound. – says Sophia.

“I left the settlement in 2015, cause the military actions were very intense here. They took us through the fields to the train. Three trains, seven carriages were added for us – those who were fleeing. I was 8 back then; on our way I saw two explosions and pink sky, planes over our heads.

All the activities I do right now help me not to think about these memories. I do sports, hand-made dolls, design cloth for them, I cannot seat still, because I need distraction.

Children have adapted. I came back from Kyiv and found them all adapted here. When the shelling starts, they go out for a walk. This is not OK for our psychological state. Children have changed, you know, violence could be even observed.

But here I want to tell thank you to our trainers Yuliia and Yulianna (Avalist – Save the Children`s partner organization). They are helping us to deal with the consequences of the conflict. The relations between children, teachers and parents have improved much. I am a participant of the Schools Safety Committee. It is so cool that children and not adults are being asked what we need.

And upon consulting us, we were provided the TV, for instance, which we are going to put on the first floor and show the clips about how to make the sports safer. In the result we hope that our children doing sports won`t hurt themselves.

As for the plans for the future, I am interested in so many professions. I wanted to become a doctor, a sports teacher, an athlete.

But first of all, I have the cherished dream that the situation in our country normalize, the economy becomes stabilized that we are all alive and well, and after that something can be done, something done for your country, for yourself and then we can plan something for the future.”

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 Sophia ogether 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 video stories show the successes we achieved in empowering children we work with and for.