A camp for internally displaced children organized by Caritas-Spes in Zarichany has just ended

A Christian camp for children from internally displaced families was organized in Zarichany, Zhytomyr Region. More than 100 children, 5-14 years of age, had a chance to rest and recharge amid the forests of picturesque Polissia. This camp is the result of yet another fruitful cooperation between religious mission of Roman Catholic Church – Caritas-Spes and Pope for Ukraine initiative.

“After our first joint project with Pope for Ukraine initiative, during which managed to provide shoes to children from internally displaced families, we already knew many people so it was easy to arrange this camp”, Father Petro Zharkovskyi, President of Caritas-Spes Ukraine, says. “We mostly had children who are currently living in Kyiv and Zhytomyr Region. In addition, our sisters collected data from social centres and contacted internally displaced persons directly. We picked up children and brought them here. The children were very happy, very pleased.”

Sister Liudmyla Domanska from the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who is one of the organizers of camp in Zarichany, says that the camp had Christian orientation so morning prayer and discussion of spiritual topics were included into the programme.

“It appears that many children were from families that don’t practice Christianity. Participation in the morning prayer was voluntary,” Sister Liudmyla says. “But in the morning many children came to pray themselves. We also included some recollections – every day we watched clips from the cartoon “Pinocchio” with the children and then had group discussions of certain problems.” 

Moreover, each day was full of different contests, sports competitions, performances and workshops. The children went on an excursion to Zhytomyr to the Museum of Aeronautics and Craftsmen Yard Museum and then to the village of Berezivka to see bears in enclosures.

The children were supervised by graduates and students of Berchychiv Teacher’s Training Lyceum. Some of the parents, who were actively involved in the programme, helped children and even participated in contests. One of the mothers worked at the camp as a children’s psychologist.

“The children are all very nice but each of them has experienced the hardships of war and it was difficult for them psychologically,” Sister Liudmyla says. “They did not want to talk about it.  We saw that children came here to have a rest first of all.”

The next camp organized by Caritas-Spes with the support of Pope for Ukraine Initiative will start on July 23 in the village of Yablunytsia.

Ivanka Rudakevych

Photos: Caritas Spes archive, Natalia Omelchenko