1 year of war and how we fight fear with smiles at the "Smiles for Ukraine" children's center
Today marks exactly one year since the start of the war in Ukraine. A year that changed the lives of a generation of children forced to leave their home country and seek safety in a foreign country. Over 8 million refugees have left Ukraine, the majority of them women and children.
One year ago, the “Dokova and Dokov for the Future” Foundation joined the wave of empathy, care, and support for the women and children who arrived in Bulgaria from Ukraine. In addition to material aid, we decided to support the emotional development and psychological resilience of the little refugees. We have provided them with a safe environment where they can feel at ease and through educational activities, fun and games to get through this situation of fear and anxiety more quickly.
We founded the Children’s Center “Smiles for Ukraine” in the city of Varna, and today – more than 9 months after it opened its doors, we present to you part of the team that takes care of the children – Svetlana Mulenko – primary drawing teacher, Nadezhda Solovei – psychologist and pedagogue, Svetlana Ovcharenko – Ukrainian language teacher and speech therapist, to tell how the war changed their fate, but also how the work in the children’s center gave them hope, reason for smiles and faith – that good things happen every day and good will win.
Svetlana Mulenko is a photographer and primary art teacher from Dnipro. He has two children, but all the rest of the family are still in Ukraine. Svetlana is a positive person and believes that at some point everything will be fine. “We have to go on living,” she is convinced. She loves her work at the Children’s Center “Smiles for Ukraine” because she feels how “the children come alive” before her eyes.
Nadezhda Solovei is a psychologist from Izmail, a city in Ukraine, located about 40 km from the Romanian border. She has three children, one of whom is disabled, and she is grateful that her husband, as a parent in a family of five, has the right to leave Ukraine. This allows them to see each other, even if rarely, unlike many other families who are deprived of time together.
Thanks to the “Smiles for Ukraine” Children’s Center, Nadezhda has the opportunity to work as a psychologist. Her biggest mission is to make the development of children as easy as possible. He believes that this is important for the social needs of children and their integration into society. Unfortunately, no one knows how long this will last and how long they will have to live away from their homeland and the dangers there right now.
Svetlana Ovcharenko is from Zaporozhye, which is located in an occupied region. She is a Ukrainian language teacher and speech therapist. She says that her greatest joy is seeing results in the children you work with. He claims that “the children are completely different” a year later and believes that it is very important that they preserve their culture and traditions.
On the other hand, the adaptation of the children to the Bulgarian culture, the training in the Bulgarian language provided by the center are factors for their socialization and for them to feel good in their new environment.
The Ukrainian women who became part of the team of the “Dokova and Dokov for the Future” Foundation are extremely grateful for the opportunities provided by the “Smiles for Ukraine” Children’s Center. All three have already completed level A1 in Bulgarian and are doing everything in their power to adapt to this new way of life.