We use positive emotions to make Ukrainian children smile

Published: Jan 25, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
Open Doors Day_ “Building Resilience in Children through Knowledge and Social Skills” ( BRIKSS)_Causeni, Moldova
© Photo: Diana Gradinaru

More than 48,000 children from Ukraine—including 34,000 of school age—have arrived in Moldova since the beginning of the war. Among them are 138 children hosted with their relatives by Moldovan families in Causeni. 

To ease their integration into the local community and to mitigate the negative impact of the war on them, we opened a Temporary Learning Centre as part of the project "Building Resilience in Children through Knowledge and Social Skills", implemented alongside the Association for Integrated Sustainable Development (ADDI) in Causeni. The money to establish and equip the centre—around €100,000—was raised through the SOS Ukraine emergency appeal run by the People in Need (PIN) team in the Czech Republic.

"All donations were made by Czech citizens, ordinary people," says Dumitru Comerzan, project coordinator at the Czech Embassy in Moldova.

Child-Friendly Space for local and Ukrainian children 

This is a pilot project for our organisation. "We planned it for six months, but unfortunately, the conflict in Ukraine is ongoing. That's why the need for educational facilities is very high, and we will definitely extend this project. It was quite an intense effort not only on the part of PIN Moldova, but also by our international experts in education and child protection," said Mihai Cotorobai, a project manager of PIN Moldova.

ADDI ensures the management of the project at the local level, coordinates the activities, identifies the needs of the children with a team of facilitators, and ensures the quality of the educational process.

"Through this project, we are able to help refugee children temporarily displaced here in the Republic of Moldova through various types of interventions. And I am referring here to psychological, legal, and educational support. We organise various activities for refugee children, but the most important is that we can allow them to connect to online classes," says Diana Bacal, project coordinator at ADDI.

Both refugee children and children from Causeni visit the centre. So far, 50 children, including 20 Ukrainians, have benefited from the centre's services. In the first part of the day, Ukrainian pupils come to the Digital Learning Centre and connect remotely to online lessons with their teachers, assisted by facilitators. After completing school activities—together with their peers from the host community—they participate in sessions organised according to the socio-emotional education curriculum in the Child-Friendly Space. 

The activity programme includes: dance therapy, art therapy (painting, modelling, decoupage), watching thematic and educational films, hand-made and creative workshops, outdoor walks, sports classes, study visits and excursions, 3D modelling, knowledge and socialisation, logic, cognitive games and other activities.

Lera comes to the centre every day and says she is happy with the conditions here.

"In September, I took online classes at home, and since November, I have come here to the centre. I like everything here. After school, we can play computer games and read books," she said.

Parents are also glad that their children have a place where they can learn and spend quality free time while they are involved in other activities.

"My son is nine years old. I found a job, which was a problem for me because I didn't have anyone to leave him with. This centre came up, and it is possible to bring him here in the morning to connect to the online school via Zoom. After lessons, they have development activities, language study, and design lessons. He really enjoys working on the 3D printer," says Irina, a refugee from Ukraine.

In Causeni, at the Temporary Learning Centre, we wanted to bring a smile and positive emotions to children who have fled the war. We are glad that our contribution is appreciated by the children, their parents and the staff of the Ukrainian Embassy in Moldova.

"Thank you very much, because here, children have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood. These little oases are touching to tears," said Olesya Yurchenko, First Secretary of the Ukrainian Embassy in the Republic of Moldova.

Autor: Diana Grădinaru

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