Alina from Borodyanka
Borodyanka, Gateway to Kyiv
Borodyanka, Ukraine. A quiet one-street town, 35 miles to the north of Kyiv, which had roughly 13,000 residents. It is a strategic place as this narrow route provides passage to the country’s capital. This small town was bombed extensively by the Russian armed forces during the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine.
On the Road to Damascus
“I remember the sweet moments in my city when the snow was falling just before Christmas 2013. Looking out through my window our children, with their new hats and gloves, playing excitedly in the snow.
In wasn’t long after that, as the children were getting ready for school that everything changed. The phone rang and a friend warned us not to leave the house as ‘Daesh’ (ISIS) were in the streets nearby.
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This project started when Lizelle Pieterse (with GAiN South Africa) had a heart to mobilise people within South Africa to respond to the pockets of poverty on their door step. This desire has now grown into a vision to give children who are living on the margins and would otherwise have been forgotten, a fighting chance at life.
It was a lot to take in at once and as we got to know people it changed so many things about how I saw the Refugee Crisis. Going in I had a “Headline View” of the Refugee Crisis, when I came back I had gained the “Human View.” I realized that the Refugee label had kept me from seeing those seeking refuge as people. I recognized that a Refugee is not a kind of nationality or citizenship, but a season of life and a journey.
For three years, 1,500 displaced people, primarily from Mosul, called a half-finished building in Erbil, which became a refugee camp, home. This Christmas, the tall skeleton of the building was empty: after Mosul and its surrounding area was liberated, most of the families returned to their hometowns and villages, and have started the long process of rebuilding.
These are the words used to describe the temporary living quarters for thousands of refugees who have fled their homes and find themselves on the island of Lesvos, Greece. The summer surge of new arrivals means the camps there are accommodating well over their capacity. Life looks increasingly bleak as tempers fray in crowded quarters, and temperatures overnight drop to near zero in tents which are already struggling with the wind and rain.
When I learnt about the horrible situations faced by Iraqi and Syrian children in refugee camps, with no access to education and at risk of exploitation, I knew I needed to get my community, my university, involved. At GAiN we partner with local communities in this country, to make sure that people living in these camps can have hope for their future by meeting their needs today.
Early in July our project team once again went to Cluj-Napoca for the third year running. A team of 12, made up of students and recent graduates, spent 10 days working alongside the local project staff who are focused on changing the future prospects for the next generation of Roma gypsy children living next to the city rubbish dump. Emanuel who was returning with the team for the second time shares his impressions of the project.