by Bonar Bell, ChildFund New Zealand
Just over a decade ago, I spent a few months living in Eastern Europe, volunteering in community schools, meeting with local families over meals, getting to know them, and their children.
At that time, I was amazed by the incredible resilience of those who I met - passionate, proud and strong people who had survived being part of the Soviet Union, happy with life's basic essentials. I couldn't have predicted a future where that resilience was exactly what they would need for survival.
Fast-forward to the morning of 24 February, 2022. For children waking up in Ukraine, the sun was rising in the east—as it always does—but this time, things were different.
Home was no longer safe.
Russia had invaded Ukraine, threatening the lives of innocent families. In a few short hours, families across the country were forced to leave their homes in search of a safer place to live. Thousands began the exodus into neighbouring countries like Romania and Poland, where organisations like ChildFund were preparing to provide support for frightened refugees.
For those who stayed in Ukraine, things only got worse. Civilians joined the fight to protect their homeland, unsure if they'd ever return home safely. Shortages of fuel meant desperate families were stuck without a place to turn to. Families have been left without food, water or medicine. It's been a living nightmare.
A week after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, things are no more certain.
ChildFund, along with many other organisations, are doing our part to help those most impacted by this crisis. With the support of generous Kiwis, we are ensuring that children and families have access to basic needs like food, water and medicine, and providing psychosocial and educational support to keep children occupied during this devastating time.
We will continue to provide updates as this situation unfolds in the coming days and weeks. Our hearts are with the children and families of Ukraine.