More than 4,000 children from Ukrainian orphanages and care homes have been evacuated to Poland to escape the war. Separated from their parents or abandoned, they’re coming to terms with trauma.
It’s been a while since this children’s home in the Polish city of Lodz has seen so many people. In late February, only a handful of Polish children called it home. But since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, they’ve been joined by dozens of young refugees who fled two care homes in the western Ukrainian town of Kovel.
Their housing was organized by the NGO Happy Kids, which has been caring for orphans and foster families in Poland for 20 years. It also has an extensive network in Ukraine.
“We contacted our Ukrainian partner organizations and the Ukrainian authorities right away, at the beginning of the war,” said Przemyslaw Macholak of Happy Kids. “So far, we have evacuated a total of 1,500 Ukrainian children to Poland and placed them in 10 different homes.”
“If this tragedy continues, there will be more and more children who will lose their parents in this war,” added his colleague Izabela Kartasinska. “We will try to help these war orphans as well.”
Amid social reforms over the last two decades, Poland has been trying to close down its large children’s homes. As a result, almost 80% of Polish children in social care have been moved to live with foster families, leaving space in the care homes for Ukrainians.