The war hasn't stopped the commitment of the Ukrainian youth of Sant'Egidio who organised summer schools for children in Kiev, Irpin', Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk.
More than 300 children and adolescents attended the event. The experience of war has been devastating for all of them - bombings, displacement, family members at the front or left behind in the occupied territories, separation from loved ones and friends, loneliness and often poverty.
The Community has responded to their plight by opening Schools of Peace in war-torn cities, where teenagers take care of the youngest children. Even the teenagers have suffered from the war, but their engagement brings healing and hope for one and all.
The Summer School lasted four days in each city. The children, who had already been studying online, had the chance to meet friends. Those who had only been playing 'checkpoint' and 'war' started to enjoy peaceful games again. Those who had stopped talking went on stage to sing or perform a play. Those who had been afraid of being separated from their parents joined the others for a trip to the mountains or to the zoo.
Sometimes, during summer school, air-raid alarms resounded and the children made their way down to the shelter. But even during the alarm, if you are together, you are not so afraid: you can sing or play with the others.
"Little S. from Doneck, is now living in Kiev. He is six years old. He has become very quiet because of the war, he doesn't speak at all, but he loves animals very much. During summer school we went to the zoo together. It was the first time for S. and he immediately ran to his beloved lizards and crocodiles. He was absolutely happy. I, on the other hand, more than once stepped aside and cried, because I was moved to realise how much pain this child has experienced and to see that he can finally be happy'.
Sofia, aged 15, who was at summer school in Kiev, has told us this story of friendship. For her and the other teenagers, working with children is a chance to socialise, to help their country, to be active and to learn take responsibility.