Ukraine - Hope endures under the bombs in Kharkiv. The School of Peace in an air raid shelter

Here, the children of Kharkiv have been able to study, play, enjoy their afternoon snack for a few months now. That is, feel like children with their friends of Sant'Egidio

Since the end of January, the Sant'Egidio School of Peace has been open in an air-raid shelter in Kharkiv.

It was a young girl, Yulia, just 16 years old, who opened this place in this big city of Ukraine - now on the frontline -, where no one would have ever thought of helping children to study and grow up together. Once back in her home in Kharkiv, after having been displaced for a few months in IvanoFrankivsk, in the west of the country - the area furthest from the front line - where she got to know the Community, she thought that something had to be done for the little ones.
The School of Peace is an oasis in hell. Of course, it is underground, there are no windows, no yard to play in. Indeed, a group of about 20 second and third graders who have so far only studied online, because of the war, finally have the chance to experience what it means to go to school. Some of them never left Kharkiv during the war, others returned after being evacuated.
For a few weeks the shelter was occupied by citizens coming for protection, as the shelling intensified. Immediately, the children wrote to Yulia: they needed that space of childhood to help them live, to grow, to forget all the evil looming over their heads, incessantly for more than two years. 
Then finally the School of Peace resumed. Yet the wounds of the soul can be felt: they can be seen in the drawings made in the basement, almost all with the traces of war, of missiles, of destroyed houses.
Meanwhile, the bombings continue in the city. Recently, while the children were playing together outdoors, there was an explosion not far from them. Immediately, the young people looking after them had to take them back to the basement, calmly, without panicking.
The electricity cuts out three to five hours a day in Kharkiv, which has been under siege for some time now. There is a profound sense of precariousness and insecurity in everyone, which hangs in the air. But the need for a future endures, despite everything. You can see it in the eyes of the young people of Sant'Egidio who, together with Yulia, began this adventure under the bombs, and in the determination of the children who do not stop asking to study, and to prepare for life, which they all hope will be in peace.

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