Evacuated Orphans, Ukraine

Visiting a Ukrainian orphanage for children who need specialist care

This was one of the worst ever children’s centres, or orphanage, I’ve visited in the 30 years of my experience. Thinking of the past, of Blon in Belarus; in Romania visiting the orphanages after Ceaușescu’s regime fell, it was horrendous. I never thought I’d see anything like that ever again.

Dave Cooke

Magala, Chernivtsi

Please note all images are from Belarus and Romania taken during Teams4U trips in 1993 and 1994. Children were not photographed in the Ukrainian orphanage.

Before the war, this centre, in the South of Ukraine, housed 10 children to 15 staff. However, due to the conflict, an additional 44 children have been evacuated there.

All the children require specialist care. But with limited staffing and next to no equipment, children were packed 15 to a room, restrained in wheelchairs or tied to benches.

In the first room we walked into, we saw this child tied to a bench. Purely because there wasn’t anyone there to make sure he wouldn’t fall off. It wasn’t care, it was containment, but there was nothing the staff could do.

Simon Cooke, T4U Project Officer

Heartbreaking scenes

Many of these children have heightened sensitivities and were distressed by the noise. The children were under stimulated. There was no mobility, sensory or play equipment. Rooms were empty, apart from furniture and children.

The noise and smell. There are no toilets except on the ground floor, and the staff couldn’t keep the children clean. There was shouting, banging, children trying to lash out. Most of these children have come from other centres and it’s all unfamiliar, being cared for by people they don’t know. One child was closing a wardrobe door over and over again, banging and banging.

The staff didn’t have time to tie their own laces, let alone provide the children with the kind of care they need

Simon Cooke

Had it not been for Serena [one of our distribution partners] providing the centre with food, nappes, wipes and first aid, I think they would have been in dire trouble.

Mimo Muia, Volunteer

What can we do?

We are fundraising to equip the centre with an upstairs wet room and we are looking to source specialist physio and play equipment for the orphanage.