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  • Special summer camps 2021 organized by Jewish schools and the Jewish Agency for children and young people | Photo: Christians for Israel
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Summer in Ukraine – On Summer Camp!

Koen Carlier - 14 July 2021

In the Netherlands children have six weeks of summer holiday, in Belgium they have eight weeks. Ukrainian children have no less than ten weeks of summer holiday! The reason for this long holiday comes from the former Soviet Union. In those days children had to either assist their parents on the land from the beginning of June or work on state farms.

In Ukraine we have a land climate. That means that the winters are freezing cold and the Summers are blazing hot. Think of temperatures of more than 35 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it is not very wise to be taught in small classrooms without air conditioning.

But what do you do as working parents, now that your children have so much free time? Some children go for a number of weeks to their grandparents in the village, schools organize activities for a couple of weeks and other children simply stay at home. The danger of the latter option is that the children start to hang about and cause problems (un)intentionally.

Summer camps
The Jewish schools tackle this differently. They organize summer camps for the children in the summer holiday. During these camps there is a central theme and amongst other things, Hebrew lessons are given. On many Jewish schools the preschools remain open all Summer. The Jewish Agency also organizes many summer camps. During these camps emphasis is placed on informing and enthusing the children for the possibilities to study in Israel via a special programme. In the Autumn more than 250 Ukrainian young people hope to participate in this programme on go to Israel for three or four years. Experience shows that 99% of these young people stay in Israel after conclusion of this study programme.

“Jewish schools and the Jewish Agency organize special summer camps for children and young people”

Jewish schools and the Jewish Agency organize special summer camps for the children and young people. Our team visited some of these camps in the last few weeks. We noticed that these children and young people were more enthusiastic than previous years. This has probably to do with the fact that the summer camps were cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 virus.

We were invited to one of the summer camps. Christians for Israel was thanked for the meals we deliver there. As a thank-you we received a painted canvas of Jerusalem. A Jewish woman came to us who thanked us and told us that the parents wanted the camp to last longer. We suggested to organize an extra week, if the camp leaders saw fit to do so. No sooner said than done!

Impressions from the summer camps (click on the photo to scroll through the photos)

Among the children who are going to camp are orphans from the Tikva orphanage in Odessa and Alumim from Zhitomir. Many people believe that there are no problematic families and children with problems in the Jewish communities. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, the situation of six-year-old Zlata from Kiev. Next season she hopes to go to group 3. Her mother Olga gave birth to Zlata when she was sixteen. By the time she was twenty, she married a violent husband. She and Zlata were knocked about and Zlata regularly ended up in the children’s hospital. By now the man is in jail and Olga is raising Zlata and her baby brother alone. Unfortunately, Olga pays little attention to the children.

The Jewish community and the school regularly help Olga’s family with food and clothing. The school became a safe home for Zlata, where she is surrounded with care and attention. They help her develop, raise and teach her. She is really loved here!

She is allowed to join the summer camp this holiday, and she absolutely receives everything she needs. In addition to the activities of the camp the school psychologist works with her every day. Everything is being done to help and support her.

 

Six-year-old Zlata during the summer camp | Photo: Christians for Israel

“This is an enormous support for our family! I am not able to give my son every attention and peace, because I am raising him alone”

Comments from parents
The children’s parents regularly send us letters to tell us how happy and grateful they are for this initiative. Here are two examples.

“Dear organizers of the summer camp! I am the mother of one of the students of the Jewish school in Belaya Tserkov. My son got the opportunity to spend part of his holiday in joining the summer camp. This is an enormous support for our family! I am not able to give my son every attention and peace, because I am raising him alone. We have no money for nice outings and summer activities. Thanks to your care my son is taken care of, was fed and returned happy and joyful. School, sponsors and Christians for Israel: Thank you very much!”

“Thank you very much for the summer camp! My daughter Anya studies at a Jewish school in Belaya Tserkov and recently visited the camp. This is very important to me, because I can pay little attention to my daughter during the holiday. I have to work. The camp was very comfortable. She was well looked after and she had an instructive and good time because she was allowed to learn Hebrew. My daughter and I are very grateful for these opportunities!”

Please support these summer camps for Jewish children in Ukraine. The costs of the meals for one child per  day are € 3 | US $ 3.50. Our goal is to sponsor 5000 meals. Any amount is welcome!

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