Breaking barriers: Lisa's educational pursuit as a refugee
Lisa serves as an inspiration to us all, proving that with the right tools and unwavering determination, one can overcome adversity and create a better future.
Lisa, 12 years old, has found solace and strength in Romania, amidst the challenges of being a Ukrainian refugee. Forced to leave her home in Kherson, Lisa embarked on a journey that tested her resilience and determination.
“When I left Kherson with my mother, we could only take a bag with us, so we didn’t bring too much, leaving behind all that we have,” recalls Lisa, looking around her small and simple bedroom in Galati, where she has been sleeping, playing and studying in the last months.
Lisa's journey was not without challenges. She misses her father, who remained in Kherson due to his medical condition. Separated from him and the life they shared, Lisa's heart is longing for their reunion.
“My father is still in Kherson. He is very sick, he had a stroke, so he couldn’t leave the house. The last time I saw him was last summer, in August. We try to keep in touch every single day, but sometimes it is hard because he doesn’t have a very good internet connection. He is living in an occupied area, so the internet is not functional there all the time,” says Lisa.
Despite the hardship, Lisa remained steadfast in her commitment to education. Attending online classes, she showed exceptional dedication, and her mother says she is a top student among her peers. Her teachers fled Kherson, and now they are displaced in other regions of Ukraine, continuing their mission to teach the children.
“When I moved here, I was joining my online classes using two cell phones, mine and my mother’s. I was watching and talking to my teacher using my mother’s cellphone, and I was reading my lesson using my phone. I have always tried to do my best with what I have,” says Lisa, about her experience with online studies as a refugee.
With UNICEF support, her wish of continuing her education and pursuing her passion for graphic design has been rekindled. Lisa received a HP laptop, and this was an important point in her educational journey, because her online classes became more accessible and engaging. These laptops were donated by HP Inc. to UNICEF, in partnership with the Global Business Coalition for Education to support the emergency response in Romania.
“My life changed so much from the moment I received the laptop from UNICEF. I can learn faster now; I can see the lessons better and read the texts with no problem. I had to zoom in on every page before, and I had problems with my eyes. I take care of my laptop because I will start school again in autumn, and I will need it a lot! I am happy that now I can search for a lot of new information and do my homework better,” admits Lisa.
Fueling her passion for graphic design, Lisa embraced her artistic side, spending her summer creating new designs using online tools. Her laptop became a gateway to a world of inspiration, enabling her to explore different styles and hone her creative skills. “I would like to follow a career in this direction, I see myself as a professional graphic designer in the future.”
“I am also going to Romanian and English classes, and the new laptop is also useful for this. I am learning Romanian better by watching videos and using translation tools. I am even watching “Harry Potter” with Romanian subtitles, so I could learn the language faster,” says Lisa.
UNICEF also provided Lisa with essential school supplies, ensuring she could continue her studies with confidence. Moreover, Lisa's passion for learning extends beyond the classroom as she actively participates in various educational activities organized by other NGOs, attending Romanian and English classes, striving to enhance her language skills and foster meaningful connections.
She also made new Romanian friends in her neighborhood, and she likes spending time with them, playing together. “I have learned some phrases in Romanian, and I am using different signs and gestures to communicate. Sometimes they tell me how to pronounce the words and correct me, and this was very helpful for me.”
While Lisa and her mother eagerly await a future where peace may be restored in Ukraine, the uncertainty surrounding their hometown and the devastation caused by the recent flooding leave their return under a question mark. However, their unwavering desire to reunite their family fuels their hope for a brighter future.
With UNICEF's support, Lisa’s dreams of pursuing a graphic design career are taking shape, and her education continues to thrive. Lisa's invincible spirit serves as an inspiration to us all, proving that with the right tools and unwavering determination, one can overcome adversity and create a better future.