Where is this girl jumping? By the end of this, you will see images of kids near a beach on the coast of the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. They come from families who have been displaced by the war. For ten days, they have been quite happy.
This is the second year This Child Here has funded the Peace Camp. There was time to swim, to play, to dance, to make crafts or make friends or photos or puppets to put on a play. There was time for programs they designed themselves. The camp has a specific purpose: to give time for these families to rest, to talk with each other, to separate themselves from painful memories and make new ones. In the right conditions, the sea serves as a place of healing.
I arrived eager to interview people about their experiences of the war and status as refugees, but soon learned that these people are tired of such conversation and not so willing to dig into those memories. I learned only generalities: a boy is here who underwent heart surgery for a valve not developing; his dream was to go to the sea; a grandmother was reunited with daughter and grandchildren after two years of this war. Families left homes because they were forced to abandon them. The father of a family with three teenage sons showed me video of their home near the battle zone of Donetsk. A explosive landed in their back yard. With great pride, he told me that no one had looted his home. He showed a second video of where they now live in a large building with other families outside a city named Kharkiv, a former shelter for children turned into a dormitory. They can’t afford gas for heat in the winter, so they survive the cold with firewood.
I learned of their gratitude, as these people came individually to me to say “thank you” for these ten days by the sea. It’s a remarkable thing we are doing for these families with children. Many asked me why Americans give money to help in Ukraine and who are Presbyterians? I suppose it’s good PR in both cases, but the real benefit, as the conflict still simmers, will be the healing between individuals, of Russian and Ukrainian origin, character, and identification that is already beginning, in a place called Ukraine.
See these two ladies below? The one in white, Alla Soroka, created, organized and managed this project. Katya in orange is part of the team.
Now why is this guy jumping and scaring all those people???
Here’s some beautiful people with flowers in their hair… and more…
Here above is our camp doctor.
And here’s a bunch of happy people:)