Dnipro Kids Update – June 2020

Posted

Apologies that it has taken so long for us to put out another update, but the Worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has also affected the work we do in Ukraine. We did have a Spring Trip fully planned for April, but unfortunately this had to be cancelled as Ukraine also entered a ‘lockdown’ stage.

The majority of the following update is from Natalie, our assistant in Ukraine, with some editing from committee member Duncan McRae.

Coronavirus in Ukraine

On Wednesday March 11, the Dnipro Kids returned home after a busy day at school, completed their homework and began getting ready for the following day’s classes.

Then, late in the evening, the orphanage parents and children were contacted by their teachers informing them that an urgent decision had been taken to close schools due to a quarantine.

At the time, they were unaware of how serious the coronavirus pandemic would be, and how it would impact their lives for months to come.

Our Ukraine-based colleague, Natalie, said: “In the beginning, everyone continued to go outside for a walk, had fun in the playgrounds and actively went to visit each other at home.

“When it became clear that the situation with the virus around the world was serious and that the children wouldn’t be able to return to school for weeks or even months, the Government and school administrations actively began working to provide home-based education.”

Unfortunately, not all schools were able to deliver classes live online, so for many children tasks were sent to them each day and the orphanage parents helped them with their learning.

The parents discussed new topics with the children each day, explaining everything clearly to help them understand and ensure completed homework was sent to their teachers. Many of you will know first-hand how challenging it can be juggling work with childcare and acting as a substitute teacher. For the orphanage parents caring for a large number of children this was a particularly challenging time.

Natalie said: “You can imagine how difficult it is if you have not one, not two, and not even three children, but 10 or more like our orphanage parents. I’m proud of all our parents who not only coped with this task perfectly but also managed to continue to prepare food for the whole family three times a day, play with the children and do everything they had previously been doing. The children continued dancing classes at home, music lessons and so on.”

The Ukrainian Government launched a project called ‘School Online’, which was very useful, not just for children, but also parents. Together, they were able to watch lessons online.

Natalie added: “Now, all the parents are used to it. The only thing they really lack is a little time for themselves. And, of course, everyone was very upset that our Dnipro Kids spring trip and all our birthday trips were cancelled. This school year, children will not return to school. This is surprising, but the kids miss school very much and dream that everything will return back to normal as soon as possible.”

Hasanskaya Orphanage

Despite lockdown, it’s been a busy few months for the Hasanskaya family.

In mid-March, two new children were welcomed into the family, Yulia (15) and her little brother Tolya (7).

The children needed some new clothes, but we had to wait for lockdown rules to be relaxed before they could get to the shops. Even with shops being allowed to open there were still strict rules about wearing masks and keeping apart while shopping.

 

Natalie said: “Yulia is a very good older sister. She loves Tolya very much and every minute of her free time she tries to give him her attention. Tolya is a very active young boy and interacts with literally all of the family members. He is now the youngest one in the family, and probably plays on the additional love and attention that this brings.”

The most difficult aspect of lockdown for the orphanage during lockdown was organising the children’s online education. Orphanage mum Lyudmila reiterated her gratitude to Dnipro Kids and Kyivstar for the computers that they received a few years ago. The computers are particularly vital to the children’s education at this time.

Natalie said: “Each family has many children and they are all of different ages. For half a day, all of the children need to be online at the same time and then in the evening they all have to do their homework. This was difficult to get used to and required all the parents and kids being super organised. Because of the difficulty with the online schooling they are hoping that they can find additional computers from somewhere for the kids.”

The orphanage parents have also bought a car for the family. In the past they have always been reliant on public transport, but reduced services have been making travel very difficult. And of course the first thing that home improvement expert Yura did was start construction of a garage to keep it safe.

Natalie said: “The older boys were quite excited to watch dad build the garage. Yura is hopeful that they pick up some skills that will be very useful to them in the future. Maybe some day after they leave the orphanage they will be able to put some of these skills to use on their own homes.”

Shevchenko Orphanage

During the lockdown the Shevchenko family, like all other families, have been balancing play and online schoolwork. 

In between the school work the children have been helping mum Nadya in the kitchen, playing sports, or out fishing with dad Sergei.

“It’s been easier to get them in the kitchen than I thought,” Nadya joked. “Their favourite thing to do is eat tasty food.”

  

Even music lessons were conducted online but the parents are grateful that these continued at all.

The parents hope that, when it gets back to normal again, all their kids will be happy that lockdown is over and cherish every musical activity and all sports training.

 

Nadya is very thankful for the bicycle purchased for the children by Dnipro Kids. “It has really helped during lockdown,” she told us. “Not all of the boys have one, and they are dreaming that one day they will all be riding their own bikes.”

Orphanage parents Nadia and Sergei, despite the problems and difficulties they have faced recently (Sergei began receiving treatment for cancer in 2019) continue to make improvements at the house, to improve the living conditions for the kids.

“They are doing everything possible to make the children feel good and comfortable,” said Natalie. “Right now, the older children, Sasha and Vika, have their own bedrooms, the kitchen is again large and comfortable, and there is now a gazebo in the garden for the kids to enjoy.”

Ionova Orphanage

The Ionova family are also doing well. Like the other families, it took a while for the orphanage parents to reorganise everything, but right now orphanage mum Valentina says the children have settled into a routine of home schooling and online music lessons.They all have their fingers crossed that the Autumn Dnipro Kids trip will be able to go ahead, and hoping that the birthday events will recommence soon.

“During lockdown we miss seeing the children” said Natalie. “But the orphanage parents have been doing a very good job.”

Svyatkova Orphanage

The Svyatkova family has always been very organised, so it was not too difficult for them to quickly rebuild their schedule and for the children to start studying online during the lockdown. 

 

Between lessons, homework and meals, the orphanage parents found time to ride bicycles with their children, organised a barbecue in the garden and played badminton or board games. 

 
 

Natalie said: “All of the kids are happy and safe and sound, especially three new members who joined the family a few months ago.

“It seems like the youngest, David, is now in charge of everyone. He knows that everyone loves him, and is using this to his advantage!”

As with the other orphanages, the kids are really hoping that Dnipro Kids birthday events and trips will be possible again soon.

Sobolyev Orphanage

For the Sobolyev family, the lockdown has also been an active and interesting experience.

Between online lessons and homework the kids have been helping mum in the kitchen, trying new experiments with their cookery skills to create delicious new dishes.


 
“A barbecue is always a good idea when kids get bored,” explained Natalie. “They have reorganised the backyard and now it’s the perfect place for everyone.”



 
Svetlana tells us that the kids have started reading books, which is a big plus to have come out of lockdown. 

Svetlana says the kids are all healthy and wishes that everyone in Scotland stays safe and healthy too.

Puzir Orphanage

The Puzir family want to say a big “hello” to everyone. During the months of lockdown they have been doing lots to prevent boredom. Orphanage mum Svetlana says the children are missing all of their friends and she hopes that everything will get back to normal soon.


 
Natalie told us “Just before the lockdown we had a birthday event that some of the Puzir orphanage children involved in, and Diana received roller skates as her birthday gift from Dnipro Kids. Svetlana has told me that roller skating has become her favourite pastime during lockdown”

 
 
 
 
Svetlana also tells us that cycling and cooking have also been a way that the kids are getting through lockdown, inbetween online school classes of course. She also says that kids are happy and healthy, but all miss school and life the way it was before lockdown.

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Many thanks,

Steven Carr.