Seven and a half million children in Ukraine now facing death, serious injury or displacement. This is not a hypothesis. The children who went to school on Wednesday are now awaiting burial.
His reality to the children caught in the conflict is traumatic.
Last week, Ukrainian parents began filling out stickers listing their child’s blood type. The teachers run the evacuation drills. Instead of playing outside, the children rehearsed their way to the nearest subway station to film bomb shelters. They practice how to hold a rifle. Mothers warn their toddlers that they must listen, even if there are loud noises in the night. Their worst nightmare has come true. The air raids began.
Some of the country’s youngest citizens, newborn babies in Dnipro, were taken from the neonatal intensive care unit to a makeshift bomb shelter, wrapped in blankets, as nurses squeezed Blue manual vent bags to keep them alive. A Russian missile hit a kindergarten in Okhtyrka, causing many casualties, including children.
For those who survive without physical harm, the trauma they are experiencing will affect them for the rest of their lives and will indeed affect future generations. People in the eastern part of the country have been living in the shadow of conflict for eight years now, ravaging the psychological well-being of an entire generation of children. A pain they will now share with their fellow Ukrainians, who may have said tearful and angry goodbyes to their fathers and grandmothers, unsure if they will. reunited or not. Many fathers had to stay in Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree to start enlisting reservists between the ages of 18 and 60.
Ukrainian parents face difficult choices to keep their children safe. Some people pack their belongings in suitcases to flee across the border to Moldova or Poland – trips of up to 300km can take 18 hours. Toddlers and young children suffer from blisters, broken toenails, and bloody shoes from walking through the night.
Then there are those who stay in Kyiv. Footage from a subway bomb shelter shows a blond boy the same age as my son, holding a plastic balloon. The boy clung to his father’s shoulder and stared at the camera. What will happen to him next week? When I look at my boy, I can’t help but wonder.
And these are the lucky kids with parents. An estimated 70,000 to 110,000 orphans are raised in 650 institutions around the country. Evacuations are underway, with trains from institutes in eastern Ukraine bringing special needs children, infants and toddlers to Lviv.
The majority of these are placed in care because of abuse, neglect or extreme poverty. Away from the loving embrace of their mother, the children completely rely on social workers to protect them not only from bombs, but also from exploitation and abuse. Orphaned children with no one to take care of. Live in landfills, transit stations, scrap yards, or under bridges in major cities.
The human cost of war can be a challenge even hard to imagine, the reality being dramatically different from the reality for the safe domestication of Ireland after the pandemic.
Today, I play Lego with my kids, realizing that I take it for granted. Pasta to eat. Milk to drink. Safe from overhead bombs and air raid sirens.
Before I go to bed, I stroke my son’s soft hair and think of Ukrainian mothers who do the same. Their bedtime prayer might be together another day, not sure if their baby will be alive when the sun comes up. These days, Irish society is prone to resentment. A miscalculation statement. One bad judgment call and everyone is activated. We love action on Twitter. There was a nationwide outcry. So where do we go when life is thrown away in the worst of circumstances? When evil is at work before our eyes?
Contributing to humanitarian efforts is a tangible endeavor. Unicef is seeking $66.4 million to provide access to basic services including water and sanitation, vaccinations and healthcare, schooling and psychological support.
Nobody wants higher energy prices or anything that increases the cost of living – but economic sanctions imposed on Russia will do it. Where Putin does not value childhood, it is our duty to pay attention to the most vulnerable. Museums around the world display sponges and dolls that survived World War II without their owners. We must maintain our thirst for peace, even when it hurts us.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/while-my-kids-play-lego-ukrainian-children-clutching-teddies-are-fleeing-death-41389279.html While my kids play Lego, Ukrainian kids clutching their trousers are running away from death