As war raged in their homeland, about thirty children who fled Ukraine suffered from a somewhat “normal” structure. Edam Primary Schools, Trimaran and Pyramid, held a class for children residing in De Mermen for two weeks. “You see friendships develop with other children, even if they don’t speak the same language,” says Piramide Principal Remco Homan.
During the break it is clear that football is a universal language. Children run in the schoolyard. “CPOW, Opspoor, and PSG all set up a kind of campus for young refugees, at several sites in the Burmeirend, but initially there was no room for the Edam-Volendam group,” Homann explains. They were looking for a place for these children until the May holidays, because construction was needed. Something out of ordinary life, hearing the school bell, playing in the schoolyard, getting a lesson. When the question came to us, we immediately said “yes” and I moved in with De Trimaran’s manager, Renate Maréchal. Neil Verhoeven coordinated with the municipality. Children up to 8 years old went to De Trimaran and came to us until 11 years old. ”
The municipality asked Sandra van Dorn to stand in front of the class. “Without an educational background. It was difficult,” says Homan, when he had just given a lesson himself. There is help from Rostik, a sixteen-year-old boy, who is also in De Meermin. Translates what we say into English. It’s temporary, but it provides the rhythm. The parents initially came from De Meermin, to take pictures and shoot, and to show where the children were in the house.”
“Sadly it was great to make a place for the kids. You see happy faces, they mingle in the schoolyard. You see right away the ball boys have a little Ronaldo in their house. Then it doesn’t matter if you’re from Singelwijk or Ukraine. We also had Syrian refugees at school here. There was a girl who said on the first day that she could talk to one of the new children, because she was a child who fled to Ukraine from Syria.”
“It’s a great citizenship lesson that you can teach. This – admittedly – arose from a terrible situation – is what you want as a teacher. Meeting each other, doing something for someone else. I asked our children up front: What are we going to do in the schoolyard? Create different groups or get each other involved in things You definitely see the latter happening and friendships form. Even if they don’t speak the same language. And Rustic, for him, is a huge challenge. He was put in front of class for a while and did a great job. If he has to be calm, he acts right away. “.
“These are nineteen children, the most important thing is safety and fun and we have all done that during these two weeks,” says Sandra van Dorn in the schoolyard. So I do very different things.” She looks around. You see a lot of happy faces, from the parents too, and that’s it. These parents have a small living space in De Meermin and sit there with their whole family, this way they can also have some time to relax. And for kids, it’s a good idea to do something with their peers. We’ve done it all. Creative materials and we made use of picture books translated on the big screen.”
Rustic: Via video
I see my father in Kyiv
What am I doing here
For a moment he leaves the classroom with the children. rustic. He works as an interpreter and “master” for two weeks. Only 16 years old. He was born in Mykolaiv and studies in Kyiv. Until he had to flee because of the war. With his mother and younger sister. My father could not leave the country, he works as a soldier. Of course we call each other every day.” The whites in his eyes with copious red spots. From sadness and fatigue. Tension is there every day. I follow everything, I watch news and movies, so I sleep very badly when I see such terrible things. It just keeps spinning. In my head. And here, I don’t think about it for a while.”
He continues, “You hope it all ends.” There is no point. Even if Russia wins, they will still lose because of everything that falls apart. And because of what people think about it.” Of course there is daily contact with the home front. With the refugee and leaving behind friends, relatives and teachers. This here calms my mind, distracts me. I lived my whole life peacefully and in one moment it was bad. My parents were working and suddenly we had to go to a station Odessa train. Escape.” “In Ukraine I had a dream, to become a musician by profession. I have been saying this since I was five years old, when I saw a band on TV. I had a guitar and sang often at home. I could bring the guitar here, because we could only take some things with us on the plane. But some people from Edam gave me the guitar, which I play every day.”
As I was sitting on a bench at De Meermin, a woman asked to go with the children, who were allowed to go to school here. I thought, well, someday I could help. At first it was hard, I was afraid I couldn’t control them. And there were a lot of children, and the situation was out of control, I saw Sandra and thought: This will be difficult for her. So I decided to come every day. And you know, my opinion of children has changed. They make me happy. I see they are having fun, forgetting the war for a moment. I see them playing with the other children. And the children’s parents thank me every day when they see me in De Meermin.”
And when children see me in De Meermin or elsewhere in Edam, they call me by my name or give me a hug. This makes me happy. They are also interested. We did different things here at school, doing pottery or quiz or geography or terrain.” He won’t “move” with him when the kids go to school in Burmerend. I’m really going to look for a job here, to make money to feed our family. I’m the only guy at home “.
Swallows. “Obviously I have a lot of emotions and feelings, and I don’t talk about it that much, so talking about it is good for me. My parents are proud. I made videos and showed them to my parents too.” He sighs deeply. And maintains tears with difficulty. “I hope one day to fulfill my dream in Ukraine again. Or as a musician and maybe as a teacher. Some of my teachers still reside in very dangerous cities. They still teach online and I follow it. I am so proud of them that they still want to do it” .