Ukrainian children living in Izium have sent nearly 100 drawings to Saaremaa to say thank you to people living on the island for the donation of postal trucks to their city.
The mini vehicles, which were sent from Saaremaa to Ukraine are now reportedly driving around Izium, replacing those that have been destroyed in the bombing since Russia launched its full scale military invasion of Ukraine last February. Other forms of aid, which was packed into the vans for its journey from Saaremaa to Ukraine has also been put to good use in Izium.
However, it is only recently that a return delivery arrived on Estonia's largest island, containing 98 drawings made by students at three schools in Izium
"We have to consider, that the situation in Izium is now such that the children are not physically attending school and are being home-schooled because their schools have been bombed," said Jaanika Tiitson, aid coordinator for Izium in Saaremaa.
"So, these drawings were probably done in basements or in I don't know what conditions, but certainly under difficult conditions. There are a lot of Estonian symbols here, so you can see that the teachers have done a really good job with the children. We can find here our barn swallows, striped folk costumes, cornflowers and all our symbols," Tiitson said.
"Through their creations they have tried to show their gratitude towards the people who are helping them. For the children who have survived the occupation, who else can they be grateful to than people who gave them a helping hand?" said Oksana Strelnik, a teacher in Izium.
From this Wednesday, the children's pictures highlighting the friendship between Estonia and Ukraine will be put on display in the Saaremaa department store (Kaubamaja).
"I've cried all my tears, otherwise I wouldn't be able to work here. In fact, (the pictures) are very emotional," said Tiitson.
By pure coincidence, on of the first people to see the pictures after they arrived in Saaremaa, was a man who had previously sent a car to Ukraine.
"You still look at them with warm feelings. They are in a really difficult situation themselves," said Ukraine aid worker Arne Salong.
The connection between Saaremaa and the children of Izium is set to continue. All the young artists will receive friendship wristbands in the colors of the Ukrainian and Estonian flags and imbued with the scent of the Saaremaa juniper. Other gifts for the children will also be sent to Izium. But that's not all.
"We also have a longer term idea. We actually want to find pen pals for each of these Ukrainian children here in Saaremaa. And once this war is over, we want to bring all these children together," said Tiitson.
Editor: Michael Cole