14:59 13.02.2023

Zelenska's Foundation looking for partners in Australia for pilot project of inclusive family-type orphanages

3 min read

The Foundation of the First Lady of the country Olena Zelenska is launching a pilot project of inclusive buildings for ten family-type orphanages (DDST), whose housing was completely destroyed due to the Russian war against Ukraine, and is looking for partners in Australia for it.

"While Russia's aggression against Ukraine continues, the number of affected children is increasing – they need help. Therefore, the focus of the Foundation's work is to support children throughout Ukraine, including those who grow up in DDST," Zelenska said in an interview with the Australian edition of the Australian Financial Review.

According to her, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, some 461 children have died, some 921 have been injured, some 348 children have gone missing, and some 16,207 have been forcibly deported to Russia due to the actions of the Russian military.

The first lady said in addition to family-type orphanages in Ukraine, there are still Soviet-style orphanages and public boarding schools, which were abandoned by a large part of progressive countries. At the same time, one of the conditions for Ukraine's accession to the European Union is the closure of such institutions in favor of family forms of education, foster families or FGST, in which from five to ten children are brought up. The Foundation actively supports this initiative and cooperates in this direction with the state.

At the same time, Zelenska said although such a reconstruction and provision of all conditions for at least 25,000 children [orphans and children deprived of parental care] is a difficult task even without a war, she still considers it feasible. She cited as an example the experience of neighboring Romania, which, before joining the EU in 2007, transferred 100,000 children who had previously been in such institutions to family forms of education.

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

She also said although Australia and Ukraine are far from each other, the common "basic human values" between the two countries can overcome any distance.

"We value human life. We love our children equally. We take care of our parents. We have much more in common than what is different," Zelenska said.

Currently, the Foundation's team is in Australia and is looking for partners to raise the necessary funds and help first dozens, and later thousands of DDSTs throughout Ukraine. As noted, inclusive houses will be equipped with bomb shelters and everything necessary.