For the children of Ukraine, exile and perils

Drawings of Ukrainian children evacuated from an orphanage in Lviv (Ukraine) to Poland by an American Baptist community, March 23, 2022.

It takes one hour to drive south from Krakow. Take the winding roads that climb up to the mountains. It was there, in a Polish winter sports resort won by the spring, that around thirty children from a private orphanage in the Lviv region, in western Ukraine, were moved in early March.

A vacation center was kindly made available to them by its owners, a Polish couple. In one of the rooms of the establishment, Anastasia, Ivanka and Ania, aged 6, 7 and 9, are having fun on the beds. In the morning, they went to school. These three sisters were placed in an orphanage a year ago with their brother Volodymir, 3, following acts of sexual abuse. Ania knows that it was the war that brought her to this corner of Poland. “She’s not worried. thinks she knows Natalia, the 26-year-old educator who shares the siblings’ room. The adults talk about it a lot among themselves and we pray three times a day. »

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Aged 2 to 17, the children of the orphanage “have been permanently or temporarily removed from their parents due to addiction, neglect or abuse,” explains Wendy Lynn Farrell. This 39-year-old American is an active member of a Baptist community in Springfield, Missouri, whose Church is the main financial supporter of the orphanage, through the Children’s Paths Foundation. ). She herself adopted a teenager from Crimea in 2013. She is one of the architects of the evacuation of children in Poland.

Today, Wendy’s goal is to bring the group to the United States, with the approval of the Ukrainian authorities and “while it calms down”. “In Springfield, our community knows these children and will be able to support them. They won’t need anything.”, she justifies. Moreover, the children were not registered as refugees with the Polish administration, “so as not to limit our chances”she explains.

“Traffic Risks”

Leah really wants to go to the United States. At the same time, this 15-year-old girl, placed since 2014, does not hide her anxiety. “My father and my brother are in Lviv but my mother lives in Mariupol [dans le sud de l’Ukraine] and I haven’t heard from her since March 5she says. She no longer receives messages or calls. »

“Most of the children have no relationship with their parents and they are not at all worried about their fate”, however, assures Mykola Shagarov, the director of the orphanage, himself a refugee in Poland. This 46-year-old Ukrainian says everything is done “in accordance with the law” and “Adoption processes are suspended during the war”. He knows that in this period of crisis there are “traffic risks”.

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