Securing education for them is one of the key challenges Polish schools are facing at the moment. The schools are supported by Polish NGOs which, since the first days of the war, have been involved in efforts of local governments and educational institutions aimed at organizing care, integration and teaching for refugees’ children.
In the beginning of March, the “Projector” program launched the “Solidarity with Ukraine” campaign encouraging university student volunteers to engage in integrational and educational activities aimed at making it easier for children and teens from Ukraine to cope with their new situation.
“The campaign develops very fast. Many volunteers come to us and offer to conduct animation and integration, sports or arts classes. These classes, although they are very simple, are enjoyed by children. Our volunteers are not only Poles but also Ukrainians, which really helps because not every center has its interpreter. I’m most happy though that the students who come to us are eager to conduct classes for many days and many hours a day and that the employees of centers where the classes are held welcome the students and make every effort to support them in performing their tasks,” Małgorzata Węglińska, the “Solidarity with Ukraine” campaign coordinator says.
Since the beginning of March, more than 100 volunteers have conducted classes for ca. 2,000 Ukrainian children in 56 centers.
The students receive funds to pay for transportation and buy educational aids under the program. The “Projector” s Team is working to identify schools and other educational and cultural institutions where children from Ukraine will be learning, and encouraging representatives of these institutions to help in organization of the classes.
“Classes that I conducted for children from Ukraine were different from those I usually run. They were more demanding but also providing a lot of satisfaction. Some children were subdued, distrustful; they needed some time to join the others but in the end, driven by curiosity they would join the rest. Others started to play immediately, they were looking after the younger ones, engaging in performing tasks. Gradually, the center turned into a place where children were just themselves. Thanks to the financial support from the program I could bring various art items, construction sticks, stickers for the youngest children, etc., and all that turned out to be very useful,” Marta Masternak, a “Projector” volunteer explains.
The “Solidarity with Ukraine” campaign is getting more and more popular among students and educational institutions. “It is very important that the volunteers reach small towns and villages where extra-curricular classes are difficult to find,” Kamil Wrzos, the Program Director, emphasizes.
The purpose of the “Projector – Student Volunteers” Program of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, implemented since 2003, is to equalize education opportunities of children and youth from villages and small towns. Under this program, groups of 2 to 3 volunteer university students carry out projects developed by themselves, that expand knowledge, skills, and the personal interests of children and teenagers. The projects are conducted in free time during the school year and during summer and winter holidays. To date, more than 40,000 educational projects have been carried out in more than 2,800 schools by 14,700 student volunteers for over 430,000 pupils.
“Solidarity with Ukraine” Coordinator: Katarzyna Szczechowska, Tel. +48 451 074 621