Like thousands of other children his age in Ukraine, seven-year-old Danyyil Kamoza has never been taught in a classroom; his first year of school has been at home, online.
The Kamoza family are from a village in Sumy region in the north-east of Ukraine, 10km away from the Russian border. Their once peaceful village came under relentless attack and the region has been repeatedly targeted by Russian forces since the war began.
Danyyil’s mother, Vira, 44, said, “Since the beginning of the war, we’ve all been living in fear, and we’ve been in danger of our lives. The children took it especially hard. They became afraid of any loud sound; they would wake up at night crying and couldn’t be calmed down.
“A shell fell just a few metres from our relatives' house. The neighbour's house burned down. We couldn't stand it anymore and we left for a safer place.”
The Kamozas moved to Rivne region in western Ukraine in the summer of 2022. Although it is relatively safer here, families living in poverty like the Kamozas face many challenges, from low wages to unemployment – as well as fear of Russian attack.
Many parents also worry about their children’s future, as more than 7.5 million children and 1.5 million young people have had their education affected by the war. Like Danyyil and his siblings, many of them have to learn online at home, with no face-to-face contact with teachers or other pupils, and interrupted internet connections making it difficult to stay engaged.
Since the beginning of Russia’s large-scale invasion, more than 3,000 educational institutions in Ukraine — 10 percent of the total — have been damaged or destroyed, according to the Ministry of Education. School buildings are at risk of shelling or lack heating after massive damage to the country’s energy infrastructure, and not all of them have bomb shelters in place to be allowed to remain open.
Vira said, “I want my children to be educated and to have the chance of a normal life in the future. Here they have to study online using mobile phones. Their eyes get very tired, and I’m concerned their eyesight may deteriorate. It’s difficult for children to concentrate because there’s no contact with the teacher. The teachers understand that they can’t demand too much from children, because most of them are emotionally traumatised and constantly under stress.”
In February 2023 the Kamozas came across Mission Without Borders and have been receiving regular support from them ever since. Pavlo, the MWB coordinator who supports the family, is there to encourage the parents and children to keep persevering with their education, despite the far from ideal circumstances. MWB’s consistent emotional, spiritual and material support is helping to lift some burdens off the Kamozas, giving them the strength to keep going.
Continue reading below...