The ongoing war in Ukraine has pushed a generation of children to the brink. This was the warning issued by UNICEF in February of this year just before the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.
Since then, children in the war-torn nation have experienced more than 12 months of violence, fear, loss, and tragedy. There isn’t a single aspect of children’s lives that the war hasn’t impacted. Many have been killed, injured, forced from their homes, and made to miss out on crucial education and the benefits of a stable upbringing.
“Children in Ukraine have experienced a year of horror,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Children have been killed and injured, and many have lost parents and siblings, their homes, schools, and playgrounds. No child should ever have to bear that kind of suffering.”
To help educate those living outside of Ukraine on the horrors that the war has unleashed on Ukraine’s innocent civilians, billionaire philanthropist and businessman Rinat Akhmetov has directed his charity organization, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, to collect the accounts and stories of Ukraine’s children and publish them in the Museum of Civilian Voices.
The Museum of Civilian Voices
The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Museum of Civilian Voices has been collecting and sharing stories from Ukrainians affected by war for almost a decade. Established in 2014 after the outbreak of war in Donbas, the museum project is providing its global audience with an insight into the impact of Russia’s invasion through interviews, pictures, and video footage.
To date, more than 70,000 stories have been shared with the museum, up by more than 60,000 since the outbreak of all-out war in February 2022. Many stories come from Ukraine’s children, one of the hardest-hit and worst-affected population groups.
Vlad, 11, Tells His Story
A brave little lad from Mariupol is one of the tots to share his experiences with the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Museum of Civilian Voices. Vlad, 11, survived extensive shelling attacks during the siege of Mariupol last year. “It was scary. The ceilings were swaying. A second, and the basement is almost gone. Mom and Dad were outside at that time. I didn’t know what happened to them for a long time, and I was very worried if they were alive.”
Vlad, along with his pregnant sister and her husband, were evacuated to a hospital on the left bank of Mariupol. He managed to make new friends with some other children while there and together, they celebrated his birthday. “There was almost no shooting that day. I’m glad that I had a little holiday,” Vlad recounts.
‘My Daughter Was Wounded by a Cluster Bomb’
One of the more harrowing stories comes from Oleksandra, the mother of 15-year-old Kira from Kharkiv. Kira sustained serious abdominal wounds when a shell fragment pierced her stomach and injured her internal organs.
“My husband and I were at home while she went out for a walk. We thought she was walking near the school. It is not far from our home,” Oleksandra recalls. Chillingly, Oleksandra heard artillery beginning to rain down in her area. She and her husband ran out to find their daughter when, upon approaching a local park, she saw three children lying on the ground. “I ran up to my daughter … I was scared when coming close to her. She did not cry; she was conscious of her actions.”
Luckily, Kira was successfully treated for her injuries and was up and walking again one month later.