Child friendly spaces serve as a well-being haven for displaced Ukrainian children and parents

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Dnipro, Ukraine - A real godsend. That’s what 50-year-old Svitlana Katushina regarded the new child-friendly space that World Vision’s partner NGO Girls launched in Dnipro recently.

“For those who have money, they can enroll their children in private schools. But I don’t. So finding out this space where children can learn is almost a miracle for me”, she explains.

Svitlana takes care of her three nephews ageing 17, 12, and three years to support their parents. The project is supported by USAID`s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), in partnership with ACTED Ukraine and the Ukrainian Response Consortium.

Yulia found haven for her children in the child-friendly spaces.

Two years on, World Vision and partners have helped organize over 150 child friendly spaces in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Georgia. Of these, 98 are in Ukraine. These spaces aim to provide integrated protection, mental health and psychosocial support and non-formal education services to children, adolescents and their families.

World Vision’s child well-being aspirations include ensuring children enjoy good health, are educated for life, experience love of God and their neighbors, and are cared for, protected and participating”, says Eric Kiruhura, World Vision’s Risk and Compliance Director.

“This project is very important because it focuses on protecting children and providing a safe space for them”, he adds.

It is very difficult for children now. The kindergarten is not open, school is online and no options for some. The children especially have little to do here.

Before finding the center, 34-year-old Yulia Honcharova was looking for activities where her three children ageing nine, four and one can participate. They have been spending time in the local park and at home, with less opportunities to meet and interact with other children their age.

Many of the kindergartens in the area were closed down for lack of shelters. “It is very difficult for children now. The kindergarten is not open, school is online and no options for some. The children especially have little to do here”, Yulia shares.

Now Yulia’s children attend different classes that includes developing their skills and talents through creative workshops, sports, and psychosocial activities. The child friendly space has become a haven for 75 children in the city of Dnipro.

The activities were designed to support the well-being of children and parents.

The parents are also listened to when they recommend classes and activities that are good for their children.

The activities are designed for the displaced children to communicate more and get to know their peers in the community. The children and parents are encouraged to exchange contacts and interact”, says NGO Girls Daria Chekalova.

“The parents also need to be supported because they do not know anyone in their new community and have limited access to activities. This space is not a substitute for kindergarten, but we try to come as close as possible to relieving the burden on families and helping them with their children”, Chekalova explains.

World Vision's Risk and Compliance Director Eric Kiruhura during her visit in one of the child-friendly spaces in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Story and photos by Tetiana Dolhiier, Communications Officer