[Foto: ADRA Bulgária]


ADRA Bulgaria and UNICEF Finish the First School Year for Ukrainian Refugees

The Wings for Our Children project provides educational opportunities, psychological support, and social assistance to more than 1,100 Ukrainian kids.

Bulgaria | Ivalina Ilieva

The Day of Slavonic Alphabet, Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture marked the closing of the first school year for Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria. ADRA Bulgaria happily celebrated it with the Ukrainian students and teachers participating in the Wings for Our Children project. The project provides educational opportunities, psychological support, and social assistance to more than 1,100 Ukrainian kids in 8 educational centers close to Varna, a marquee seaside city in Bulgaria. Besides the school lessons, there are also kindergarten, daycare, and different sports clubs.

Ukrainian mothers really appreciate the project. The school year began online for the kids, and everything was fine initially, but then the regular shooting on the energy infrastructure brought this to a halt. It is great that not only children can benefit from the program; it provides both means and occupation to the adult refugees as well. 

About 60 Ukrainian and Bulgarian teachers are involved in extracurricular activities, such as Bulgarian, English, math, chemistry, history of Bulgaria, financial literacy, core curriculum subjects, music, technology, art therapy, psychotherapy, etc. Within the project, music festivals and holidays for children were organized. Textbooks, study materials, interactive whiteboards, computers, projectors, and printers were provided. The effect of this project is the occupation of children of school age and their inclusion in the educational system of Bulgaria.

“When we live in [community], we do become like one family,” says Natalia Kuzmenko, one of the organizers from the Ukrainian side. “It is very positive that there are so many children; this way, they can adapt, find friends, and enjoy a fellowship. This is crucial.”

“What I like the most is the fellowship, the development. Currently, the education in Ukraine has come to a halt, and here, we get a chance to continue our development, to learn something new. I now look forward to the summer vacation, but at the same time, we will continue studying languages: English and Bulgarian,” says Anna, a teenager from Odesa, Ukraine, who already speaks Bulgarian.

So far, the funding of the project is €190,000 (approx US$204,000), but this is just the first step. Everyone is all praying for peace. However, if the conflict continues, the project will go on next year as well. 

The good news is some of the parents and teachers already attend the worship services, organized by an Adventist refugee pastor.

Yes, it’s a ripple effect. The project continues to touch and change lives.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division website.