At a holiday celebration in Southern Ukraine, ‘Children still need miracles.’

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine – Some children sitting on St Nicholas’ lap asked for iPhones. Others asked for peace.

Others, said Yevhen Vorobyov, who dressed as Saint Nicholas, asked for air defense. Some people just want clean water, he said, “so they can finally shower normally.”

It was an ordinary holiday in Mykolaiv, a city besieged and ravaged by Russian missiles. But on Monday, when children gathered at a boarding school in the southern Ukrainian city to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, there was still time to celebrate.

Nearly a hundred children visited the special needs school to play games, visit Saint Nicholas and receive gifts, including handmade dolls from Canadian police officers and mandarins from soldiers. protect local territory.

Mr. Vorobyov, who wore a long white artificial beard to play the role of Saint Nicholas at the school where his wife, Svitlana, is the principal, said: “Even if the war breaks out, the children still need teachers. miracle.

Since the start of the Russian invasion in February, this couple has evacuated some of their students to safer areas in western Ukraine and opened the door to psychological help for the kids. , such as their 8-year-old and 15-year-old sons. daughter, stay in Mykolaiv.

Mr. Vorobyov, head of another school in Mykolaiv that specializes in teaching disabled children, said those children often become withdrawn, do not want to play with other children and are afraid to leave the house.

“One kid asked, ‘Mom, please put chairs around me so bullets and bullets don’t hit me,’” he said. Others, he added, were contemplating suicide.

Mr Vorobyov, a trained rehabilitation specialist, said he and his wife use art, sports and what he calls “laughter therapy” to reach children who are struggling with mental health. “We don’t just want to save people’s lives,” he said, “but also their sanity.”


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