7 February, 2024

Tetiana, her ten-year old son Artem*, and Tetiana’s retired mother were forced to relocate when the war broke out in their hometown of Kherson. Shortly before the war, the family lost their breadwinner, so Tetiana now had to carry the burden of providing and caring for her family alone.

“The period of adaptation in the new city was very difficult financially, psychologically, and emotionally,” Tetiana says.

Tetiana and Artem were forced to flee their hometown of Kherson

In their new city of Lviv, they had to rebuild their lives from scratch. With so many other Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) converging on the city, everything was a challenge, especially finding housing, work, and a school to enrol in. When they first arrived in Lviv, Artem was completing his studies online with his school back in Kherson. But a missile strike caused widespread blackouts for six months, and Artem’s online classes were cancelled. Without a way to access education, Artem was further isolated from his peers and at risk of falling behind in his studies.

“It was difficult to enrol into a school in Lviv, even in a public school,” Tetiana says.

Thankfully, Tetiana received support from ADRA to help enrol Artem in a local Adventist School.

“Being a displaced woman raising a young child on my own, I would not be able to afford my son’s education at such a school without sponsorship,” Tetiana says. “If not for this help (from ADRA), Artem would not have been able to get a high-quality education and would not have met new friends his age.”

Artem’s school is a mix of local students and IDPs. This balance has helped Artem adapt to life in Lviv while also being surrounded by peers who understand all he has been through.

“He does not feel alone in his status of ‘displaced child’ because there are enough children in his class and throughout the school who have survived the terror of war and found shelter here,” Tetiana says. “For these children, who were forced to leave their home, school, friends, and teachers, it is important to be in an atmosphere of support and friendliness, which we found here.”

Artem (front right) with his classmates

Attending school has helped Artem adjust to life in Lviv.

“The whole school is like one big family, where you know everyone and it makes you feel cosy and calm,” Artem says. “The teachers are attentive and caring towards the children.”

Tetiana has seen the positive change in her son since he first started attending, thanks to support from the principal, teachers, counsellor, and being surrounded by peers. “His emotional and psychological state improved significantly compared to when he first started studying at the school,” she says.

Artem’s painting from his school’s art class

“I like physical education and classes called ‘Learning Together’ where we talk about relationships,” Artem says. “I also like it when we go on an excursion with the whole class. Recently, we went to the Museum of Science, which was very cool.

“I like to spend time with my friends in the school yard,” Artem says. “Now I dream of either becoming a professional football player or starting my own business.”

Artem shared that, once he becomes a prominent football player or successful businessman, he wants to help others in the same way that he has been helped.

Millions of Ukrainian families, like Tetiana and her 10-year-old son Artem, continue to be displaced. They are alone and facing financial, psychological, and emotional challenges as a result of the ongoing conflict. Your gift by February 28 can help us be Always Ready and Always There to help provide immediate relief and long-term support to people in need in times of disaster. Give today at adra.org.au/respond.

*Name changed for child protection purposes