If it were possible to turn children's laughter into money, Masha and her friends from the Ukrainian village of Trojitske would be rich, at least on the day our team photographed them. But in fact the kids lack a lot of things. The reason for this is the unstable political situation in Eastern Ukraine and the recurring military conflicts in which buildings are damaged or infrastructure is destroyed to this day.
In order to keep the children of the secondary school in Trojitske happy, arche noVa in cooperation with the UNICEF program "Education cannot wait" has renovated the washrooms and classrooms on the upper floor. The children are happy about new windows, freshly painted walls and toilets with lockable cabins.
Our relief measures give the schoolchildren a little light-heartedness and joy in their everyday lives. But that can't hide the fact that the normality of these children also means that in the middle of class there is combat noise and shots drown out the bell.
Our project consultant has just returned from one of her regular monitoring visits to Slowjansk and Donetsk. The atmosphere in Ukraine is full of hope at the moment. After the election of Volodymyr Selenskyji as the new President of Ukraine at the end of April, people hope for improvement of the situation and for genuine peace.
For the school children in Muratove, one of the numerous villages along the so-called line of conflict in which arche noVa has been active since 2016, a lot has already improved. The water in the washrooms is bubbling out of bright new taps, plus all new sinks and toilets in the washrooms. For the children this is a real reason for joy. As a thank you for our local team they paint pictures with rainbows and blooming flowers. For a moment the tanks and trenches are forgotten and children's laughter fills the room.
arche noVa is one of the few aid organisations that is still active in the Luhansk and Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine. Last year alone, more than 613 children were helped in four schools and two kindergartens.
The most important goal of our three-year project is to ensure the immediate and sustainable supply of drinking water for around 80,000 people in the conflict areas. Even before the outbreak of the war, the infrastructure in Eastern Ukraine was barely sufficient. Many public facilities date back to the 1950s and repairs have been neglected over the years. The 2014 conflict dramatically worsened the situation and severely impaired water supplies in some districts.
The concrete measures that our team has been carrying out in Ukraine for almost three years include the construction and repair of community wells and water pipes, the construction of water towers and the restoration of sanitary facilities and water treatment systems in social facilities such as schools, kindergartens and hospitals. The measures should be completed by the end of the year. Nobody knows whether the battle noise will have stopped by then.
For the school children in Trojitske, Muratove, Slowjansk and Donetzk the summer holidays have now begun. Hopefully, three months of bathing noise and guitar sounds will drown out the noise of war in many places. In September, running water will again provide positive break noise at our project schools.