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"Can I say this standing up? .. Thanks to you, I found a son", - said 50-year-old Oleh without holding back his tears. On a winter's day, he stood in the middle of the office of the ‘The Voices of Children’ Charity Foundation in Kyiv together with Kolia, a former pupil of a front-line orphanage in Eastern Ukraine, gratefully shaking hands with those present. Finally, Oleh and Kolia are officially the family.

The man saw the teenager on the screen for the first time. There was a closed show of the documentary film ‘A House Made of Splinters’ (2022) - about Ukrainian children who, due to the negligence of their parents, ended up in a shelter near the war zone in the Luhansk region. 13-year-old Kolia is the main character, whose story has impressed viewers all around the world. Azad Safarov and Olena Rozvadovska, co-founders of the "Voices of Children" foundation, worked on the film jointly produced by Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland for several years. This is the second work of the Danish director Simon Lehreng Vilmont about Ukrainian children, which, in addition to a number of prestigious awards,  received a nomination at this year's Oscars as ‘Best Documentary Feature Film’.

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Poster of the Oscar-nominated film ‘House Made of Splinters’ (2022)

According to Olena Rozvadovska, the head of the Board of Children's Voices CF, ‘House Made of Splinters’  is a part of her team's advocacy work and an opportunity to bring children's voices to the world, which testify that the war in Ukraine has been going on since 2014.

"Here are the children!"

In 2015, human rights defender Olena Rozvadovska quit her job as a spokeswoman for the Commissioner for Children's Rights and moved to the Ukrainian East. For the next 5 years, her car resolutely made its way through the beaten roads to the front-line towns and villages of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Colleagues jokingly call Olena ‘the mother of the children of the East’, because she became a devoted defender of local childhood and a friend of war-affected families. She has had this role for years.

Азад Сафаров і Олена Розвадовська. фото Голоси дітей

Olena Rozvadovska and Azad Safarov

During another trip to the Luhansk region in 2019, the woman met a documentary journalist - Azad Safarov. Together, they founded the "Children's Voices" Charitable Foundation’ to provide psychological and comprehensive assistance to as many Ukrainian families with children as possible. Today, ‘The Voices’ is a team of more than half a hundred proactive people, which includes more than 60 psychologists, which has 9 centers in different parts of the country, as well as volunteers and benefactors abroad, including the American TV presenter Oprah Winfrey.


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Voices of children’ team building

"During the 5-year work in the East, we have become convinced: if a child receives timely a high-quality support from an adult..., it is easier for them to cope with harsh everyday life. The trauma of war affects a person for decades. Children's psyche has the ability to recover. However, without quick help from the specialists, this may not happen,’-  Olena Rozvadovska says, adding that today every minor in Ukraine is a child of war.

According to the CF, more than 3.3 million children have already been affected by the war in Ukraine. Not for them to be left on their own with this experience, ‘The Voices’ provides psychosocial assistance and rehabilitation, targeted and humanitarian assistance, as well as provides educational opportunities and advocacy for children's rights.

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із занять з дітьми facebook Голоси дітей


‘We work individually and comprehensively. Our goal is not one-time help, but support with the knowledge and skills necessary for a child or family to be able to develop and grow independently in the future, as well as to ensure a normal standard of living for themselves in the conditions of war’, - Valentina Kyrychenko says. She is an advisor with capacity development and management of grant projects of Children's Voices CF.

арттерапія в осередку БФ Голоси дітей в Івано Франківську facebook voicesofchildren

Lessons in the center during the blackout

Hear and act

Alla Shirshina remembers everyone who addressed the charity fund for help and the ones who went through evacuation, occupation, destruction of housing or death of relatives. 8 years ago, she moved from her native Ternopil region to the city of Svitlodarsk, Donetsk region, where she took care of local youth and children. Here Alla met her future husband Oleksandr, their daughter and son were also born here. Since May 2022, the city has been captured, and Oleksandr is serving in the ranks of the defenders. While expecting a loved one in the Ternopil region, Alla takes care of 3-year-old Eva and 4-year-old Sashka and manages the humanitarian direction of the Children's Voices Foundation.

According to the woman, unfortunately, not all those traumatized by the war understand how important it is to consult a psychologist on time. Sometimes more than half a year passes from the first contact to the consultation appointment...But there are also many success stories about finding support and a new meaning of life.

Алла Ширшина

Alla Shirshina

Among them, there is the story of Iryna Lytvyn, who met Alla and the "Voices" team when she felt ‘the weakest in her 32 years. Leaving the city of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, which was shelled by the invaders, Iryna forgot to take the hearing aids of her daughter Polina, who lost her hearing in early childhood.

"We didn't have time to reach the assembly point for evacuation: the street where we were running with the children began to be shelled. We were lucky that a convoy of cars was passing by and we found a place in one of the vehicles...", - Iryna Lytvyn recalls the day when she and her two children left the now-occupied city.

Thanks to the fund, 9-year-old Polina can hear well again and, together with her brother Dmytro and her mother, she moved from the kindergarten to the ‘Dzherelo’ sanatorium in Truskavets.  About 300 forced migrants live here and are cared for by "Voices".

переселенка Ірина Литвин з Донеччини з донькою Поліною та сином Дмитром 1 

Iryna Lytvyn with children

Participation in one of the fund's events revealed Irina's organizational skills. Now she is a part of the team at the foundation's office in Truskavets and the coordinator of excursions to the Transcarpathia.

Ірина Литвин організує екскурсії Закарпаттям для переселенців в осередку Голоси дітей у Трускавці

 "Probably, I've always had an organizational streak in me, but I didn't know where to direct this energy. The current job is ideal for me: I have gained self-confidence and understand what direction I can and want to develop in," - Iryna shares.

The war will not steal the dream!

‘The Voices of Children’ is not just a catchy name. The charitable foundation literally gives children a voice.

The team includes a Children's Advisory Council, which joins the discussion of important issues, and the foundation documents children's stories that can inspire and motivate even adults. Thus, with the support of ISAR Ednannia BF ‘ The Voices of Children’ in a consortium with the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies and the Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law thanks to the sincere support of the American people, provided through the United States Agency for International Development, USAID implemented the project "Chronicles of Children of War".

These are 8 video stories of displaced children from different regions of Ukraine, which prove that war cannot steal a dream. One of the characters is a 17-year-old Matvii Suslov from the village of New York, Donetsk region. Before the full-scale invasion, the active young man, in cooperation with ‘The Voices’, began to implement the construction of the dream football court in his native village. The war prevented the implementation of the plan, but it did not break Matvii.

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Today, he works as a volunteer at the humanitarian medical center in Kyiv. Teaches tactical medicine and runs a video blog on providing first aid. He would like to continue to develop his region and is ready to restore the country destroyed by the enemy.

We will have a lot of work,’-  Matvii Suslov declares.

An interview with Matvii Suslov and Valentyna Kyrychenko, a manager of "Voces of children", you can watch on the Facebook page of ISAR Ednannia.