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Olena Zelenska calls on Australians to help build housing for Ukrainian family-type children's homes

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The Olena Zelenska Foundation is launching a pilot project to provide housing for 10 family-type orphanages (FTOs) whose premises were completely destroyed due to the Russian war against Ukraine. The inclusive homes will be equipped with bomb shelters and everything else necessary. The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska spoke about this in an interview with the Australian Financial Review and urged Australians to join the project.

Currently, the Foundation's team is in Australia and is looking for partners to raise the necessary funds and help dozens and thousands of FTOs across Ukraine.

According to Olena Zelenska, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, 461 children have been killed, 921 wounded, 348 missing, and 16,207 forcibly deported to Russia due to the actions of the Russian military. As long as Russia's aggression against Ukraine continues, the number of affected children is increasing and needing help. Therefore, the Foundation focuses on supporting children all over Ukraine, including those who grow up in children's homes.

In addition to the FTOs, Ukraine still has "Soviet-style" orphanages and state boarding schools, which many progressive countries have abandoned. One of the conditions for Ukraine's accession to the European Union is the closure of such institutions in favor of family-based forms of care, such as foster families or FTOs with 5 to 10 children. The Foundation actively supports this initiative and cooperates with the state in this area.

The article states, "it is difficult to literally reconstruct an entire government program and provide all the needed conditions for at least 25,000 children (orphanages and children deprived of parental care — editor.) even without war." Nevertheless, Olena Zelenska is determined and cites the example of neighboring Romania, which, before joining the EU in 2007, transferred 100,000 children who had previously been in institutions to family-based care.

Quote"This is not just possible. This is a window of opportunity that we must take advantage of," the first lady emphasizes.

In her interview, Olena Zelenska recalled the personal stories of those children who suffered or died as a result of Russia's military aggression, including the shelling of a residential building in Dnipro by the Russian military:

Quote"Masha was 15, fond of music and ballet. Maxim was 17, had just entered university, and was playing football. Leila and Mikhalina were 13 and 3 years old — both girls from this family died. And two little boys died, 11 and 18 months old."

The First Lady also emphasized that numerous children suffered psychologically. For example, according to her, many children cannot sleep or eat after war-related traumas.

Quote"A girl showed me her phone and said that her father was sending her messages, even though he was killed in action. However, she refused to believe it," shared Olena Zelenska.

The First Lady of Ukraine also spoke about how Ukrainian children are forced to study in the face of constant power outages and shelling. In order to facilitate the learning process, the Foundation, in partnership with Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, is donating more than 38,000 laptops to teachers in the regions most affected by the war.

At the end of the interview, Zelenska notes that although Australia and Ukraine are far apart, the two countries' shared "basic human values" can overcome any distance.

Quote"We value human life. We love our children equally. We care about our parents. We have much more in common than we have differences," she emphasizes.
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