A teacher who worked with the Ukrainians says that the biggest challenge for the children was being away from their parents, while the most difficult thing for their teachers was not to show that they felt sorry for them.
“The hardest part was not to show pity. Every woman has this urge to pet and hug them, but then we would be unable to learn something and strive to achieve something, but would just sit and cry together,” Viktorija Barkauskienė of Vilnius Lithuanians’ House, where the Ukrainians attended classes and lived in the 2015-2016 school year, told reporters at Vilnius Airport.
She said that the primary goal was to create a safe environment for the children, who came to Vilnius under a programme financed by the Lithuanian government, where they could rest away from the problems of the war zones in Eastern Ukraine.
Some of the children lost their parents and homes due to the ongoing conflict.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mantvydas Bekešius, who was at the airport to see the children off, told BNS that the programme was likely to be continued in the future.
It was the second group of children from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions who spent a whole school year in Lithuania. Sixteen children and two teachers from Ukraine lived in Lithuania in the 2014-2015 school year.
The Lithuanian government pays for the Ukrainian children’s education and accommodation.