Giving my Scout promise miles away from home
Kira, 12, was forced to leave Ukraine in February and find safety in Lithuania. Through the UAct project, Kira joined the local Scouts and attended the Baltic Jamboree, where she met a familiar face from home.
I was about to give my Scout promise and officially receive my neckerchief in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. But the war broke out, and my mom and I immediately decided to leave the country. I was very excited to continue my journey in Scouting and felt extremely sad to think it wouldn’t have been possible anymore. I loved Scouting.
We arrived in Lithuania and settled in the city of Šiauliai in April. My mom began looking for work, and I started going to school. But one thought kept coming back to my mind: visiting the Scouts in Lithuania. I like games, hiking, and being in nature, so I was determined to take part in all their activities.
I felt a little nervous at my first Scout meeting because I don't speak Lithuanian. However, the leaders really helped me and one of them spoke Russian – which I also speak – making it a lot easier for me. I told them I wanted to join the group, so the Scout Leaders talked to my mom and she registered me in a weekend camp, I was thrilled!
Even though it rained during the whole time I was in the camp, we had a lot of fun. I met other Ukrainians and when we had to leave we were pretty sad that our time together ended. Then, I received the best news: the Leaders asked me if I wanted to go to the Baltic Jamboree here in Lithuania! Of course, my answer was an immediate “YES!”
Everything at the Baltic Jamboree felt like a dream. I made new friends, and met 20 people who were also from Dnepropetrovsk. I spoke to them in Ukrainian and we shared nice memories from home. We played and learned a lot together during the camp.
The best and most unforgettable moment was when I found my old Scout Leader from Ukraine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her there. We were thousands of kilometers away from home and, among 650 Scouts, we found each other. I yelled her name and ran to give her the biggest hug in the world. We hugged and smiled and were full of tears. I couldn‘t believe my eyes. With her there, I felt like I was home again.
I decided with my leader that it was the perfect place for me to make my Scout promise and receive my neckercheif, just as it was planned right before the war. She initiated the ceremony for me and it was all done the way we do it in Ukrainian Scouting. It was a very sentimental moment.
It was amazing to meet people from Ukraine. They are older than I am and became my mentors whom I trust and I still communicate with.
I am now attending school and Scout meetings in Lithuania. I participate in hikes and short camps over the weekend.
Scouting has an even more special place in my heart now. It is the only thing that helped me feel safe again. Because it is familiar, it feels like home. I‘m grateful to be able to join Lithuanian Scouting because it helped me become braver. The children are friendly and understanding, and the Scout Leaders are always ready to help. Scouting here helps me to forget all the bad things I‘ve been through.
Scouting gives me the hope to create a better life in Lithuania and make more friends. I love Scouting so I want to learn as much as I can. One day I will to return to Ukraine and continue Scouting there.
About the Scouts’ Diary for UAct: Scouts in Humanitarian Response for Ukraine
The World Organization of the Scout Movement European and Eurasia regions have partnered with UNICEF Europe and Central Asia to deliver relief aid and non-formal education to those affected by the war in Ukraine. This partnership covers Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine. The Scouts’ Diary is a series of essays and interviews capturing the experiences of those involved in the project.