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CZECH REPUBLIC: Salesians hold summer camps for young Ukrainian refugees

Salesians are also providing preschool classes for young children and informal classes for older youth

(MissionNewswire) Salesians in České Budějovice, Czech Republic, are holding three summer camps for young Ukrainian refugees. Each camp, which will run Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., will bring together 15 youth to provide a time for recreation and peer bonding.

Beyond summer camps, Salesians are providing preschool classes for young children and informal classes for older youth. Hobbies, clubs and recreational programs have also been available. A Czech language course was provided for children’s mothers, ensuring their greater independence and possibilities for job placement.

A Salesian said, “What everyone appreciates most is the sense of freedom, the feeling of being respected and welcomed, of being loved and cared for. They are happy to meet someone here who speaks Ukrainian and Russian. Ukrainian refugees want to talk about the war. They are looking for people who will listen to their experiences and understand them. They want to remember and talk about their home and family.”

In České Budějovice, there are people from Bucha and Mariupol, two Ukrainian cities that were the scenes of terrible clashes and massacres. Some refugees vividly recall searching for shelters and then fleeing from them as the risk increased. Some recalled shelters that were bombed and 30 people died at once. Despite everything, sharing memories helps refugees reduce stress, relax and feel more normal.

Many have become so used to hearing air raid sirens that the silence is difficult. They become anxious and nervous because of the ingrained fear of terrible expectations. Refugees have said that it takes about a week to become used to the silence.

Most refugees want to return to reunite families with fathers and husbands who remained in Ukraine. They also want to live at home again and be with people they have known since childhood. Many left Ukraine convinced that they would only be gone for a few weeks and did not worry much about taking many things with them.

The certainty of returning to Ukraine is no longer a given for many others. One refugee said, “Now we’re wondering. The children already speak Czech quite well. We’re learning it, too. Most of the children go to school. They’re making new friends, we have already booked places for next school year, and we are getting health care. Back home everything is being destroyed. Everything will have to be rebuilt. Who will help us do that? We are receiving weapons now, but will they also help us rebuild an entire country? Once the war is over, who will remember us or think about our needs?”

Salesian missionaries have been providing care for those displaced inside of Ukraine and refugees that have fled to bordering countries. Salesians around the globe are working to provide financial and material donations to help those most in need.



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ANS – Czech Republic – Joy of summer camps, fear of silence, doubts about the future: life of Ukrainian refugees from the Salesians in České Budějovice

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