Stories from the Day Camp
Updated: Apr 7, 2022
As war rages in Ukraine, thousands of mothers and children continue to pour across borders into refugee camps, while hundreds have already arrived in Israel, just beginning the immigrant absorption process.
Drawing upon our training and expertise in informal education, and our experience running emergency day care/education centers during COVID, Dror educators have established programs for refugee children along the Poland-Ukraine border as well as in Israel.
These are a few out of the hundreds of Ukrainian refugee children they have had the opportunity to meet.
Vika, 13. Came two days ago with her mom and 8 year old brother, a cute kid who had been selling us "food" with his toy cash register all day. Definitely ripping us off with the price for imaginary pizza, but sweet kid nonetheless.
I think she said she's from the potlava region. Tonight they, like Stas, will travel to Madrid. She said she thinks going to Spain is a stupid idea.
Where would you prefer?
As I hand her the phone I already regret it.
" домой :)" "Home :)"
Sorry for the stupid question.. I write.
It's not stupid. It's ok.
I rack my brain trying to think what I can tell this girl who has lost her home, her friends, her security.
Something else stupid.
"I hear the food is good in Spain, so at least there's that.."
She laughs. " Cool. I'm already excited"
I look at her. Beneath her hair she's making a sarcastic face
We write back and forth more. She says she's boring and that I should go to more fun kids.
You're not boring. I'm glad I met you. I hope that in Spain you will find at least one small nice thing that can make you a little bit happy, even when it is hard.
Yeah, that would be cool. I still think it is a bad idea. :(
Can I take your picture?
Yeah... But I didn't even my hair today. It looks like a nightmare.
I tell her that I think it looks good and she laughs hard.
I try to take the picture to catch her smile but she quickly strikes a serious pose. That's how she wants to be photographed.
Good luck on your journey to Spain, Vika.
She writes me, good luck here with the kids.
Stas arrived yesterday with his mother. Tonight at 10 they will travel to Budapest and then fly to Madrid. He has aunt and cousins there. His grandparents are Polish, so he knows a few words to communicate with the locals in Warsaw. He wants to try to learn a few words in Spanish already. Amigo. Hola. Gracias.
Marina is 11 years old and her sister Arina just turned 4 yesterday. They are here with their mother.
Their father and grandparents are still in Petrovske, Ukraine with their cat and dog, Norma.
She talks to her dad a lot and he told her the cat keeps looking for them around the house. Her mom is looking for work and an apartment in Warsaw, and says that she will keep looking for a few more weeks. If she can't find work, they will go back to Ukraine, not knowing what awaits them there.
Marina has a crush on two boys here in the refugee camp, but it's a secret, so don't tell!
This is Mischa (Michael). He is 3 years old. He came to the Expo with Kiev with his mother and two older brothers. In his first days at the Expo, he struggled emotionally. He cried and acted out. He didn’t want to participate in any games. After a few days of the Dror Educators working to include him in the day care programming, he began to transform. A smile appeared on his face and hasn’t gone away since. He likes playing in the younger kids’ corner, especially with bubbles. He loves the volunteers from Dror and always comes up to hug them with a smile on his face.
Meet Milana. Together with her sisters Elvira and Kira and their mother Mira, she escaped to Poland from Kiev. In the child care, Milana likes to play hot potato and other games with a ball and to hula hoop. All three girls love “Just Dance” and stick together all the time. Their mother, Mira, worked in Public Relations in Ukraine and told us she wanted to remember every person who helped them along the way so she can properly thank everyone when the war is over. She took down the information of all the volunteers and thanked everyone nonstop. We told her there was no need for thanks, we are happy to be here.
This is Kristina. She is 10 years old. She escaped from Kiev with her mother, leaving behind her father, cat and bird. She doesn’t remember how long she has been in Warsaw and doesn’t know where she and her mother will so. When talking about being in Warsaw, she began to cry because she remembered a friend from Kiev who wrote to her that she was scared. She likes to teach dances and wants to help the Dror educators arrange the play every day. She helps the younger kids when they need. In the day care she likes to draw and do puzzles.
Nastia, 14, fled Ukraine with her three brother, mother and grandparents. In the refugee camp, she spent most of her time helping her mom to look after her brothers, or sitting alone on her phone. Dror volunteers invited her to join into activities for teens like card games, soccer or silly challenges. Even though she was often called away to help out when her brothers needed something, Nastia found herself connecting to other teens and to the Dror volunteers and beginning to open up. The past month of war and life as a refugee has demanded of her to grow up quickly, but the activities with Dror give her a place to keep being a kid.
This is Nastia. She said she's 5, but it was April Fool's day, so there's no way to know if she was telling the truth. She's incredibly silly, always showing off dances that she has made up. She is also quite an opinionated and stubborn kid- when she sets her mind on something, whether it is playing with a certain toy, having one of the volunteers lift her in the air or trying to score a piece of chewing gum- it is going to happen, no matter what. After watching her antics through the window for a few minutes, grandmother came to pick her up at the end of the day and wrote to one of the Dror volunteers " Thank you so much. I'm watching how you play with her and I can see that you have so much care and a huge heart. It's so necessary. Everything is falling apart for us and she just really needs this. Thank you."