SLOVAKIA: Young Ukrainian refugees welcomed
Mary Help of Christians Province hosts activities for young Ukrainian refugees
(MissionNewswire) The Mary Help of Christians Province of Slovakia is hosting several outings and activities for young Ukrainian refugees who have been staying in the country since the outbreak of war. These activities are part of Salesian centers and oratories.
On May 20, Salesians organized an outing for 26 Ukrainian boys who had been living at the Salesian Children’s Home in Lviv, Ukraine before they had to flee. The boys, age 11-17, were happy to be together after three months of separation. The boys who came to Slovakia as refugees had been placed in homes in the cities of Bratislava, Galanta, Žilina, Kremnica and Poprad.
The excursion began in Liptov and continued with a visit to the Demänovská Cave of Liberty and the Bešeňová water park. One of the organizers of the event said, “It was a joy to observe the enthusiastic expressions of the children, who had a great time on the various slides and thoroughly enjoyed the water attractions.”
Salesians are preparing three to four rounds of summer camps for Ukrainian children. The camps will be organized in cooperation with other organizations, such as Salesian organizations Savio and VIDES, as well as volunteers from the United Kingdom. Volunteers are training to work with children who have faced trauma. They are also learning safety measures and how to work as a team.
Volunteers continue to work directly with Ukrainian refugees housed in state facilities. The volunteers have been gathering the refugees to play games and engage in activities that help them get acquainted in their new environment. After these events, volunteers take time to process with other volunteers and discuss improvements.
The Salesian center in Trnávka, Bratislava is also offering languages classes four afternoons a week so refugees can learn the basics of the Slovak language.
“Refugees need more support than just having a place to stay and their basic needs met,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “To truly be integrated and comfortable in their new home, refugees need to become part of the social fabric. Meeting those in the community and learning to speak the language are a few steps in easing the transition.”
The work of Salesians in Ukraine and Slovakia is being supported through financial and material support by Salesian organizations around the globe. Salesians are present in more than 130 countries and nearly all have stepped up to help in some way.
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