Summer integration camps begin for 11,000 Ukrainian and Estonian children

Ukrainian children at summer camp
Ukrainian children at summer camp Source: ERR

This week, integration and language learning camps for Ukrainian and Estonian children will start in several places around Estonia. In total, more than 11,000 young people will be able to participate in the camps.

On Monday, the first group of 11 children started their Estonian language learning with two teachers at Mustika Playland in Tallinn. Their camp takes place twice a week and lasts for ten days.

"I went to school in Ukraine, but I hope I won't go here. I want to go home. I want to go to school at home," said Masha, who smiled and shook her head when asked if she has plans to learn Estonian.

Lisa likes the fact that there are no homework assignments during the camp. She said Estonian is difficult, but she likes learning it and it is her favorite subject at school.

The days at camp are very busy. "At around 11 o'clock, (the children) start small workshops, where they do crafts. The morning crafts are a bit more difficult. Then there's another craft activity in the evening. Meanwhile, during the day, they have lunch and either go for a walk or on excursions," said Erika Lorents, organizer of the language camp.

The children also practiced their Russian at the language camp, while making dumplings.

"We have planned (to take them to) the Marzipan Museum, the Firefighting Museum and the  Hippodrome, where they will ride ponies. Then there's the pharmacy in the old town where they'll make all sorts of interesting herbal teas," Lorents added.

With such an action packed program on offer, a good network of contacts in Ukraine and a simple registration process, places at the camp filled up quickly.

"We had contacts in Ukraine. We also communicated a bit in different Facebook groups," said Lorents. "Children could basically be registered in one day. All the places were filled in one day," she explained.

Galina Melikova, a kindergarten teacher, who came to Estonia from Ukraine in March with her 13-year-old daughter, will help to communicate with the children during the camp. She too began her first day of work in Estonia on Monday.

"I was working at home in a kindergarten and when they offered me this opportunity, I accepted," said Melikova, and she believes the children are adapting well to their new environment.

"The children have been given a lot of opportunities. I have seen them in the playground, they are smiling and I think that if the children are already smiling, they have moved away from the war," said Melikova.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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