Language is the key...
The outbreak of war in Ukraine was a surprising experience for us. We live in Tarnów, just 170 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Many mothers with children from Ukraine came to us, and NATO planes started flying over our house, which has its base 80 km away from us. It was difficult for everyone, but it was the children who felt it the most, and they brought this fear to school and kindergarten. The families of our children began to take in families from Ukraine. We started to support each other and organize help according to their needs: clothes, cleaning products, medicines, food, and then we passed it on to the families in need. The turning point came when five Ukrainian children were admitted to our kindergarten in different groups. Our children were quite excited about this and on the first day they brought small dictionaries to the kindergarten so that they could communicate. Upon closer contact, this proved to be unnecessary. The children found a way to communicate, talk, learn and play.
A little later, a new need arose: to organize afternoon activities for Ukrainian children who live in Tarnów and the surrounding area. In an attempt to meet this need, I was contacted by two Ukrainian English teachers, and so we organized English classes for the Ukrainian children. The classes are held on the school premises, in rooms that are free at any given time. Our sixth- and seventh-graders have volunteered to help the two teachers and the sole means of communication between them is English, as this is the language that both our students and the Ukrainian teachers can speak well. So all the efforts are aimed at learning the language, which is the key to establishing relations and dialogue. The classes were organized thanks to the support of the Fund To Support The Victims Of The Ukrainian Russian Conflict, for which we are very grateful.
We are happy that in our house the children have found peace and conditions under which they can play and learn, and that their mothers leave them in our care with peace of mind. We are also happy that children and adults form relationships based on mutual understanding and respect for others. We hope that this will be our contribution to building a better tomorrow.
- Bogusława Ochał RSCJ