More than 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have already found asylum in the Czech Republic. 40 per cent of them are children. But many of them do not go to educational institutions because there is not enough place for them. Caritas Czech Republic has therefore set up the Young Caritas club for Ukrainian children, which currently consists of 14 children.
Capacities are filling up fast
The war in Ukraine has already displaced more than 11 million people from their homes. 300 000 refugees are now staying in the Czech Republic, 40 % of whom are children and adolescents. However, the capacity within educational institutions is filling up fast. There are more than 1 000 children registered in Prague 1 district who do not attend kindergarten or school, as there is no space for them.
Therefore, in mid-April, our Global Development Education Department decided to set up a Young Caritas adaptation group for Ukrainian children in Caritas Czech Republic’s main building. "At the moment, we have 14 children enrolled in the club, which is the absolute maximum. It's less than a drop in the ocean, but we do what we can," says Kateryna, the teacher of the group. Kateryna, originally from Odesa in southern Ukraine, came to the Czech Republic two months ago when she fled the Russian invasion with her mother and six-year-old daughter. Her husband remained in Ukraine.
We talk about emotions and learn Czech
The Young Caritas Club is designed mainly for preschoolers, the youngest member is two years old, and the oldest girl is 8. "The first day was challenging... The children couldn't wait to finally play with their peers again. But we established rules and routines. Our club is open from 8 to 2. In the morning, we usually go for a walk. After lunch we play inside and learn Czech," says Kateryna. The food for the kids is provided by Caritas Czech Republic via the Caritas for Ukraine appeal.
Kateryna, who communicates with the children in their native language, is accompanied by one or two volunteers who speak Czech with the kids. Thanks to them, the Ukrainian children are learning the local language. "The atmosphere changes every day. We focus a lot on emotions. The children we have here have gone through a difficult time. Some of them came here from cities that were bombed. That's why we talk a lot about emotions and assign colours to them," explains Kateryna.
We all miss home
Kateryna paused for a long moment when we asked her how long the Young Caritas club would run. "It depends on the situation in Ukraine. A few days ago, I noticed that one of the girls was sad. I went to her to find out what was going on. She said she missed home and wanted to go back to Ukraine. At that moment I thought that I felt the same way," she tells us how the children feel about this difficult situation. Kateryna hopes they all will be able to return home in the summer.
Interested in more news like this? Read more:
- Caritas Czech Republic has equipped three placement centers with necessary items for refugees
- Caritas Czech Republic is helping thousands of refugees from Ukraine in Moldova
- 3 ways Young Caritas volunteers help refugees from Ukraine