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Support for 10-year-old Safia from Ukraine: ‘I miss my dog’

January 20th, 2023

Safia is 10 years old and lives in a refugee accommodation center in Moldova. An old school converted into a home for 120 refugees from Ukraine. For her, it’s the world upside down: sleeping in a former class room and following her school lessons online. She shares that even though she likes the center where she and her family live now, she would like to go back home. She misses Malish, her dog pet: ‘He was special, because he was my dog.’

Support for 10-year-old Safia from Ukraine: ‘I miss my dog’

Support for the children

Safia comes from Odessa, Ukraine. As a result from the war with Russia, she left the country and now lives with her big family close to ​​Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. She shares a room with her parents, grandparents, four sisters and a brother. Safia is in the 4th grade of primary school which she now attends online.

Even though the place they live in is a very humble, improvised accommodation, Safia says she is satisfied with it and likes everything about the place. Most important of all, she has made good friends with whom she plays and regularly attends nonformal education and psychosocial support activities. These are organized by the National Center for Prevention of Child Abuse (CNPAC) within their Pidtrimka project. The word ‘Pidtrimka’ is Ukrainian for ‘Give support’.

Drawing apples and making bracelets

As Safia says, and the Pidtrimka facilitators confirm, she never misses an opportunity to join the activities. Her favourite activities are the creative ones related to drawing, painting and bracelet making. ‘I like drawing apples because they are delicious and I always feel good after doing these activities! I also like TeamUp.’

TeamUp (developed by UNICEF Nederland, Save the Children en War Child) offers structured sports, games and exercise activities so that children from 6 to 18 can learn how to deal with their feelings. For refugee children it reduces the chance that they develop further psychosocial problems in the future. And because it’s fun, it helps the children to be children again. 

‘My favourite game is ‘Mouse, mouse, go away’, says Safia. ‘One child is a cat, another is the mouse and the cat needs to catch the mouse. It is very exciting!’

Helping the children from Ukraine

Terre des Hommes supports CNPAC in Moldova to help refugee children feel safe and supported. Up until now 1,555 children (839 girls, 716 boys) were reached through individual and group therapy, both in refugee reception centers and community centers. Parents of children who participate in TeamUp indicate that their children sleep better and have no nightmares. They become more social and communicative; their parents see them laughing and going outside to play more often.

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