Ukrainian kindergarten children find safety in new shelter
UNICEF and partners have helped to restore 56 facilities for children in Ukraine
Kindergarten children in the Ukrainian city of Slavutych will be safe in a new bomb shelter, thanks to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners.
Previously, there was no shelter in the kindergarten, so children and teachers had to hide behind the walls during air alarms. Now, children spend their rest hours in the shelter, which was specially equipped in just over a month.
"We are going to visit an ant," says five-year-old Maksym, clutching a toy as he follows his friends and teachers down the stairs to the shelter. There, he finds a bright, spacious room with drawings of ants on the walls.
Currently, 112 children attend the kindergarten and the shelter is designed for 220 people. According to the teachers, rest hours are best spent in the shelter so that the children’s sleep is not disrupted during air alarms.
"While half awake, each kid reacts to an air alarm differently, that's why we decided to have a rest hour in the shelter. From the very beginning, we haven't told them that we are going to the shelter. We told them that we are going to visit an ant instead. It's our favorite character.”
The construction and equipment of bomb shelters in schools and kindergartens has been possible thanks to the support of UNICEF partners, the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
For months, following the outbreak of the full-scale war in February 2022, the kindergarten in Slavutych remained closed. Then, at the end of August, its doors reopened, but the teachers say the fear is still very real.
"We try to hold on and not to show our children that we are worried,” says Oksana. “We hope for the better. While the kindergarten was closed, we guarded it, and then decided to return to work, because children need socialization.”
Socialization and feelings of safety are crucial for children in times of war. Here in the kindergarten, children can play and feel safe. Parents, too, can relax in the knowledge that the new shelter can protect their children.
“We are grateful to UNICEF that we have the opportunity to feel safe," says Oksana.
In order for children to continue attending schools and kindergartens, to socialize and be safe, UNICEF and partners are building shelters and rebuilding schools in the most affected areas. Currently, 56 facilities have been restored. The implementation of this programme is possible thanks to the support and funding of the European Union and USAID. In addition, UNICEF provides necessary supplies and materials for various activities and for the comfort of children in shelters.