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  • Writer's picturePascal Kuba

Chocolate in the bunker: the war from the children's point of view

The fate of Ukraine is widely documented in the media. A story by parents from Zaporizhzhya whom we were able to help now tells the war from the point of view that is often forgotten: that of the children.

These children distributed toys in the neighbourhood.

What would you do if you were given a bar of chocolate? Eat it the same evening or save it for later? Whatever you would choose, the emotional value of that chocolate is unlikely to change. A gift remains a gift and you are pretty much guaranteed to consume it with relish. Imagine the same situation with children. We probably don't assume that they would keep the chocolate for long. More likely they will devour it as quickly as possible when their parents are not looking.

In Zaporizhzhya, a large Ukrainian city not far from the front, however, the omens are different. Here, the war paints a different picture of children as we know them in Switzerland. A few weeks ago, when one of our deliveries arrived, some children received a very special gift: Swiss chocolate. They happily accepted it. But instead of eating it, the children had something else in mind. They stowed the chocolate in the bunker of their apartment block to make the time pass a little easier during a bomb scare.

The district where the children live is mainly inhabited by internally displaced persons. They are families from the occupied areas or people who have lost their homes due to the Russian bombs. Often they come from the Mariupol region and have lost everything. Parents have hardly any money, what little they have is spent on living expenses. The children were all the more pleased when the last shipment of Switlo also contained toys and chocolate. Those who didn't notice were still lucky: the children (seen in the first picture) distributed all the toys in the neighbourhood.

Not only the chocolate finds its way into the bunker, but also the toys. Here, too, the same principle: saving them for worse times, to at least get some comfort. What is perplexing here is the choice of toys. The most sought-after are, on the one hand, building blocks, with which the children playfully rebuild Ukraine, and, on the other hand, stuffed animals. Parents tell us that not only toddlers, but also 13-year-olds hold the soft toy close to their hearts, especially when the siren alarm sounds.

The war is omnipresent for the refugee children in Zaporizhzhya. They deal with it through play, with building blocks, but also with cars on the road: cars are stopped and checked for fun. The war is a topic for the children all day long, the parents tell us. It gives them a different perspective. Away from the immediate life and towards dealing with an abnormal situation in which no child should grow up. After all, what child decides on its own to bunker down a chocolate?

How long the children in Ukraine will have to live in these circumstances remains uncertain. Already, the war will leave lasting traces. But the effort with which these children try to improve a terrible situation is heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time. As long as this situation continues, we see it as our mission to send goods to Ukraine. That is why we will continue to collect, donate and support in this way.



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