Ukrainian kids discover a welcoming classroom in Berlin


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BERLIN — Ukrainian refugee Mariia Kerashchenko tightly clasped the arms of her two kids as she walked them by means of the courtyard of a seedy Berlin constructing, up a graffiti-covered stairway, and into a contemporary, sunlit classroom.

Her 7-year-old son, Myroslav, is one among 40 kids who began their first day of college Monday, solely weeks after becoming a member of the hundreds of thousands flooding into Europe to flee the struggle in Ukraine.

Daughter Zoriana, who’s 3, continues to be too younger for the category, which is being taught by two Ukrainians who additionally fled to the German capital. The teachings, a part of a volunteer initiative, will put together the kids for getting into Berlin’s common faculty system.

“It will get me emotional after I see all the assistance and solidarity right here,” the 30-year-old Kerashchenko, from Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, instructed The Related Press, her eyes welling with tears.


“Day-after-day, I hope that we are able to return to Ukraine, however it’s too harmful for now, so within the meantime it’s great that my son can go to high school in Germany,” she added.

The lessons for the refugees have been put collectively by Burcak Sevilgen and Faina Karlitski, who in solely two weeks raised the funds, organized the rent-free school rooms and marketed their program on the messaging service Telegram.

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Ukrainian emergency staff and volunteers carry an injured pregnant girl from the broken by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine.
(AP Picture/Evgeniy Maloletka)

The kids nervously clutched their new train books, sharpened pencils and erasers as their new lecturers welcomed them in Ukrainian on the third flooring of the previous manufacturing facility. They’ll observe their curriculum from again dwelling and in addition take German language lessons. The three hours of college every weekday will probably be adopted by actions reminiscent of playacting, portray or handicrafts.

Natalia Khalil, 33, from Rivne in western Ukraine, is educating the third and fourth graders, whereas Tatjana Gubskaya, 56, will probably be answerable for the primary and second graders. Gubskaya fled Ukraine together with her daughter and a 7-year-old grandson, who’s in her classroom.


“The children are grateful to have some form of routine once more and meet different kids from Ukraine — they and their moms have all been very harassed currently,” mentioned Gubskaya, who additionally taught second grade lessons earlier than the Feb. 24 Russian invasion.

The lecturers will probably be paid 500 euros per thirty days in donations till they’ve work permits and could be formally employed.

Sevilgen, 36, one of many two folks behind the refugee lessons, is a Berlin trainer herself. She and her 31-year-old good friend Karlitski, a administration marketing consultant, determined to do what they may to get no less than a few of the refugee kids again into faculty rapidly.

“We each have at all times had an eye fixed for social points and wished to assist right here as properly,” Sevilgen mentioned, explaining why they’ve spent each free minute to arrange the lessons.

Two refugee children from the Ukraine stand in front of a white board before their classes start in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 21, 2022. 

Two refugee kids from the Ukraine stand in entrance of a white board earlier than their lessons begin in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 21, 2022. 
(AP Picture/Markus Schreiber)

They began elevating funds and organized with the Berlin youth help program Arche — “ark” in English — to take over the sponsorship for the lessons. They acquired a suggestion from on-line search engine Ecosia to make use of the rent-free rooms in Berlin’s immigrant neighborhood of Wedding ceremony and rapidly related through Telegram with Ukrainian moms who had just lately arrived in Berlin.


Greater than 3 million Ukrainians have fled overseas, most of them to Poland. The bulk are moms and their kids, with males of navy age not allowed to go away Ukraine. Contained in the nation, over 6 million have been displaced, in accordance with the United Nations.

Germany has registered 225,357 Ukrainian refugees as of Monday, though the true numbers are anticipated to be a lot increased, since they don’t want a visa to enter the nation, and federal police solely preserve data of refugees arriving by prepare or bus. These Ukrainians getting into Germany from Poland by automotive often are usually not registered.

As much as 10,000 refugees have been arriving by prepare each day in Berlin because the begin of the struggle, and hundreds extra have come by automotive. Many are staying at shelters within the metropolis’s conference heart and at a former airport, whereas others are with family who immigrated years in the past and belong to a 300,000-member Ukrainian diaspora.


The federal government estimates that about half of the refugees are kids and youngsters who might want to attend colleges and kindergartens. It has established a activity pressure to coordinate their faculty attendance in Germany’s 16 states.

Volunteers Burcak Sevilgen, right, and Faina Karlitski pose for a photo at a space where they organized two school classes for Ukrainian refugees in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 21, 2022.

Volunteers Burcak Sevilgen, proper, and Faina Karlitski pose for a photograph at an area the place they organized two faculty lessons for Ukrainian refugees in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 21, 2022.
(AP Picture/Markus Schreiber)

A number of Berlin colleges, together with some non-public establishments, have already got taken in a couple of refugees, and metropolis officers are within the course of of creating as much as 50 particular welcome lessons to carry them up to the mark in language expertise. The authorities can draw from their expertise from 2015-16, when about 1 million folks fled conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. These kids finally entered the varsity system.


Till the welcome lessons are up and operating, the 2 lessons organized by Sevilgen and Karlitski will assist ease the kids’s transition to their new lives, educate them German and allow them to make new associates.

“A brand new routine and different kids — these are a very powerful issues for them proper now,” Sevilgen mentioned. “And if we get extra donations, we hope that we can preserve this challenge operating so long as it takes to get the children into the common Berlin colleges.”

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