Ukraine, Young Norway | Mari (29) fled from Ukraine to Norway – now she tries to help the children who stayed behind
Ukrainian Mari Sergeevna has lived in Norway since January, when she left her war-torn homeland.
She tells Nettavisen that she has grown fond of Norway, but that she misses Ukraine and would like to go back to her family and boyfriend.
– It is very difficult. I’m on the phone all the time and I read the news. Yesterday I couldn’t sleep because I was constantly checking my phone, she says.
Although she knew something was up when she checked her phone. Hours later, the news shook the world
Now she works with the organization Ung Norge, and was recently in Kyiv to visit an orphanage for children who have been at the front, which the organization supports. Children are very important to Sergeevna.
– Every day we talk about how we can help them. We try to do something all the time. It is very important.
– It hurt a lot
Seeing the children at the orphanage in Kyiv made a strong impression on Sergeevna.
– It hurt a lot. I saw their stories and hugged them. They also worked with psychologists, and told what they are afraid of, wish for and hope for. They wrote that they trusted the Ukrainian army.
– Small children wrote about being red for bombs. They wrote that they want to live, and that they don’t want to die, says Sergeevna.
Until now, the organization Ung Norge has helped Ukrainians in Norway, and distributed clothes to the value of close to NOK 15 million, sponsored by Varner-Gruppen. Now Young Norway also sends clothes and corona tests to the orphanage in Ukraine.
– We can help them build a new life. They cannot forget what they have seen in the war, but it is possible to teach them to live with it, says Sergeevna.
– Sees the seriousness in the eyes of the children
Eivin Sundal is the general manager and founder of Ung Norge, and went to Kyiv together with Mari Sergeevna. The organization primarily works for children in child care and children who live below the poverty line in Norway.
They have 3,500 users nationwide, and among other things give out clothes to the value of several tens of millions, and take them on activities. Now they also work for Ukrainian children. Sundal tells about strong experiences in Kyiv.
– You can see the seriousness in the eyes of these children. While we were there, we had to go into the bomb room, because the sirens are going off, Sundal tells Nettavisen.
One of the children is said to have even wanted to shoot Mari Sergeevna, when she entered the children’s dormitory.
– There are many girls there who have been raped by Russian soldiers, says Sundal.
At the same time, Sundal is also impressed by the children he met in Kyiv.
– They had incredibly good cohesion, and also eventually optimism. It is absolutely fantastic to see, he says.
Wants greater commitment to Ukraine
On the journey into Kyiv, Sundal says that he saw houses with re-taped windows, so that shards of glass would not hit in if explosive charges went off.
There are also supposed to have been several flight alarms while they were there. Now Sundal that Norway and Norwegians can do even more for the Ukrainians.
– I think we should have a much greater commitment. It is so close to us, and so similar to our way of life. I don’t think we Norwegians realize how close and serious this is for the civilian population.
The Ukrainians do not have the opportunity to take care of all the children who need help themselves, Sundal believes.
– We know that there is a great risk of children ending up in human trafficking if they are orphans and have no one around them. It is one of the worst things, he says in conclusion.