From left to right: Yuriy, Angelita, Sulamita, Emanuel, Levi, Samuel, and Olga. (Photo Credit: Matheus Drobenko)

General Conference

Adventist College Welcomes Refugee Children from Ukraine

Families arrived in the interior of Paraná and enrolled their children because they already knew of the school in their country of origin

Brazil | Gustavo Cidral

Yuriy and Olha (Olga) Martynchuk lived in the city of Kherson, in the Ukraine region hardest hit by the Russian army in the war that has so far lasted more than two months. They had a healthy food company and a common life with their children, Angelita (10), Emanuel (8), Samuel (5), and Sulamita (2). However, the family had to leave the country and move on with life in Brazil. The change was made possible by Global Kingdom, a worldwide network of evangelical churches that unite in favor of humanitarian causes.

So far, 36 Ukrainian refugees have come this way. They are installed in Guarapuava, in the interior of Paraná, a region that has a colony of immigrants from Ukraine. The mothers came alone with their children, as all the healthy men of war age with fewer than four children were recruited by the army. Only Yuriy and another Ukrainian were released due to the number of children.

“All cultures are different, but we see love and kindness in the people here, and that's very important to us. We love the people and atmosphere here,” says Olga. She and her husband decided to enroll their two middle children at Colégio Adventista de Guarapuava. “In Ukraine, our children studied at the Adventist school. That's why we know it and we know it's very good for them,” she says.

In addition to Emanuel and Samuel, the school received Levi, who is the son of another family. The decor in the classrooms and courtyards was enhanced with Ukrainian flags and welcoming words in their language. Even the canteen's menu got a Ukrainian version to make it easier for children to order. The boys try to adapt to the culture and especially the language, which is the biggest difficulty.

The teachers joined a mobile translation application to communicate with foreign students. "We are using the language of love. We know that for God and for our education, we can receive and welcome these students, demonstrating compassion, empathy, and especially love for others," reinforces Cristiano Rank, director of Colégio Adventista de Guarapuava.

New Life in a New Country

At first, the families will stay in Brazil for 12 months. Global Kingdom provides housing and job search assistance. At the end of the period, and if the war is over, the refugees will choose whether to return to Ukraine or remain in Brazil. Their greatest yearning is for a reunion with their parents and relatives. The relatives of the Martynchuk family stayed in the cities invaded by the Russians. “Every day, we pray for our relatives and for peace to come to our country. We dream of returning home someday. That's why we pray,” says Olga.

Check the video report broadcast by TV Novo Tempo about the refugee students of Colégio Adventista de Guarapuava:

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s news site

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