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Ukrainian girl sitting in a green room and looking away to the right side
Minute Read

Girls in Ukraine share stories of life after siege

An all-female psychosocial support group in Borodyanka is helping children cope.

24 February 2022 was a day Nina, Oksana and Olena will never forget.

“I woke up hearing the bombs dropped in our small village located near Borodyanka,” Nina said with sadness.

Along with her family, they listened in horror and fear that Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, was being attacked.

When the Russian armoured tanks started to fill the streets of their small village, and heard people getting killed, they feared for their safety, but they could not do anything.

For one month, Nina said they endured and suffered.

Oksana was told by her mother that school has been closed because of the attacks.

“It was a terrible time. During my visit with our next-door neighbours, we were all crying”, she shared.

Three Ukrainian girls dressed in all black sit in a circle on chairs in a brightly-coloured green room

She said she learned the realities of life at a young age which she once took for granted.

“Our safety was a priority. We were prepared to do what they tell us to protect our lives,” Alina added.

Olena was very quiet and hardly smiled.

The stress of her village’s occupation is still etched deep in her face. It was a 15-year-old face that saw too much.

“We never took the news of the attack seriously and were on our way to another village when the explosions started,” she said.

Many of them did not even imagine the atrocities could happen in their peaceful villages.

“It was good we left because a rocket has landed and destroyed our house.” - Olena

It was the house she was born and grew up with.

The recent findings of the UN-organised human rights investigation in Ukraine revealed the “large number of executions in 16 towns and settlements,” many of which were endured by children like Nina, Oksana and Olena.

When asked if there is any silver lining she learned from the harrowing experience, the three girls said:

“The whole world now knows what the Ukrainian courage looks like.”

Tatiana, a teacher and psychologist, whose office was destroyed by the shelling in Borodyanka, expressed worry about what the children and adults went through during the occupation.

A Ukrainian woman dressed in black- stares just left of the camera

“The psycho-social support for these children is very crucial at this time and should continue,” she implored.

Valentyna, the head of Borodyanka’s Technical School showed the damages sustained by the school that used to be active supporting 300 students.

“We closed down but re-opened with limited facilities as many got destroyed. We are just beginning to re-build.”

A Ministry of Education report through Save Schools stated that 1,601 educational institutions “suffered from the bombings and shelling,” and over 300 completely damaged.

World Vision supports a local partner ‘Girls’ in providing psycho-social support to the children in Borodyanka.

Katya, the project coordinator, expressed thanks for the continued support they receive from organisations like World Vision to continue the crucial work, especially for women and girls.

The recent UN Women policy paper has highlighted the devastating impact of the Ukraine was on women and girls that highlight critical issues “further endangering women’s and girls’ physical and mental health."

World Vision has reached 27,991 children in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Georgia through similar education programming activities. 

To date, 152,452 people in 15 municipalities in Ukraine have been supported in partnership with local humanitarian groups and organisations. Donate today to help us reach more children affected by the war.

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