Life in Donetsk, Ukraine – level 3
Under a fragile ceasefire, the residents of this eastern Ukrainian town are slowly trying to rebuild their lives, but after fierce fighting between government forces and Russian-backed rebells, life in Donetsk is a daily struggle, one that this orphanage knows too well.
Caring for children amid the conflict is a challenge with supplies proving insufficient or impossible to acquire. The Teremok Orphanage is home to 21 preschool children and director Raisa Prilipko says they face not only physical but psychological risks as well.
“They know what a missile complex is. They all understand what this is. They heard it here when the walls were trembling especially in January and February – before there was a ceasefire. It was impossible to be here at all.”
The centre runs various cultural classes in a bid to draw the children’s attention away from the damaging situation around them.
“My principle, and the principle of the teachers is not to speak of the war at all, not to give the children weapons, guns and arms.”
Six-year-old Albina, who was found hiding in a basement during fierce shelling, says she dreams of an end to the fighting.
“I want more than anything for there to no longer be a war and no bombing, so that children are fine and they don’t have to run away anywhere.”
A nearby boarding school has also felt the effect of the war. In peacetime, it had 140 children. That number has now halved. After a year of fighting, which has killed more than 6,000 people, weapons are slowly being withdrawn from the front line and hope is returning. However, as a peace plan to end the conflict comes under renewed strain, it seems hope is the only sure thing residents here really have.
Difficult words: fragile (can be broken easily), ceasefire (no fighting for some time), fierce (brutal), struggle (something which is hard to do), insufficient (not enough), acquire (to get), trembling (shaking), in a bid (in an attempt – try), strain (to be stressed).
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