Ukrainian refugee children without place in day care centers and kindergartens

The A warning came from the Ukrainian Refugee Association (UAPT): “Everything is going well for children and adolescents in primary and secondary education, but in the case of children it is quite complicated because there is not enough space for everyone”, he told Lusa.

Going to job interviews or taking an elementary course in Portuguese is complicated for those who have no one to leave their children with, admitting that Ukrainians have fled the war in recent months.

Since the beginning of the conflict, on February 24, Portugal has welcomed more than 35,000 people: two out of three women and about 10,000 children under the age of 14, according to the Foreigners and Border Services (SEF).

Lusa last week asked the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security how many children are in daycare centers and kindergartens and how many are still without vacancies, but have not yet received a response.

The government has changed the maximum number of children in daycare centers, allowing two more in each room, but the decision to do so does not help the private sector financially.

“We are accepting children for free, but we can’t get any more because there is no compensation. Social security only helps children in IPSS (Private Social Solidarity Institution) financially. We have already warned that we can get more, but we have not received. No response was received, “lamented Sujana Batista, president of the Association of Day Care Centers and Small Private Education Establishments (ACPEEP).

Regarding the lack of financial support, Susanna Batista added the lack of coordination: “Children are coming to us because families are looking for us. Or where it was needed.”

Daria arrived in Portugal in March and has yet to find a school for her 2- and 4-year-old children. She lived in Kharkiv until the war forced her to say goodbye to her husband, brother, mother and mother-in-law. She fled with her children and she could carry it in a suitcase.

The software quality expert lives in Lisbon and describes what he did in Ukraine: “I continue to work ‘online’ and ‘part-time.’ Wake up, I left them to watch television “, he told Lusa.

One of Daria’s goals was to be able to communicate better with the locals: “The Portuguese are very welcome, but I have already met people who do not speak English and it was very complicated,” he said.

Concerned about the lack of courses offered for those whose children have no one to leave, the Ukraine Refugee Association has found an answer in the Vodafone Foundation.

At Vodafone’s headquarters in Lisbon, adults take Portuguese or English classes every day, while children are transformed into playgrounds in a large room.

“We set up a kindergarten in record time. We have an average of 15 to 20 children a day, while their mothers are in class,” explained Losa Anna Mesquita Verisimo, head of the Vodafone Foundation.

The second floor of the modern building now houses a sleeping area for children, an improvised football field, a television “Russian Channel blocked”, huge pillows scattered on the floor and many toys, including a brick castle. Out. The card is made by children who have placed a Ukrainian flag on top. There are small sized colored plastic tables and chairs, colored pencils and wall paintings.

“The foundation has done a fantastic job and the initiative also allows children to learn Portuguese,” added Irina Shakira, explaining that one in four teachers is Portuguese and “taught a lot, such as knowing the color or the name of the fruit.”

Oksana, Alina and Natalia are three other academics, as well as Ukrainian refugees. “We’ve found a way to give jobs to those who come,” said Anna Mesquita Vericimo, adding that it is also good for children to have someone who speaks their language.

But the first few days were not easy. “The kids don’t want to be alone here and moms come to class to see if they’re okay. I remember Karina hugging her mother. The youngest kids, 2 to 4 years old, they cried. Most of them. They were more scared. Doesn’t want to be away from mom, ”Alina recalls.

The educationist who fled Odessa to Portugal on March 22 guaranteed that “now the children will come to this place.”

7-year-old Vsevolod is one such case. Katia, a mother who was born in Lugansk 33 years ago, said, “She spends her days asking when we’re here, because we have boys here to play with.”

Lugansk Simstress is now unemployed and believes that learning Portuguese can help her find work, so she has also signed up for a Vodafone course.

Iryna Shkira wants more organizations to move forward with projects like the Vodafone Foundation. “The Portuguese are very helpful, I really believe they are the most welcome in Europe, but it would be nice if others could take such an initiative in the course with a place to stay with children,” the association official appealed.

While Katia learns Portuguese, her son plays with the other children, just as Daria rests for three hours a day in class where Danilo and Sophia are supervised by teachers.

Despite Ukrainian academics, there is no mention of what was left behind. “We don’t ask kids anything because we don’t want them to remember moments that can be painful,” explained Portuguese teacher Anna.

But the past appears, occasionally, in the drawing. “A boy builds a house and then he traces it in black and we realize it’s a bomb,” he said.

Read more: Ukrainian family feels united in Guimaras

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