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The Inspiring Story of a Ukrainian Youth: Coping with War and Building a New Life in the Netherlands 

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I am Luuk, one of #youth who is currently volunteering in the Ukraine Project of Child Helpline International that is funded by UNICEF Europe and Central Asia. I want to share how the war in Ukraine affected me personally, and I would like to inform Ukrainian children and youth all around the world that they are not alone and that all youth are here to support them. 

I was pleased to be able to speak to my Ukrainian friend, who is currently residing in the Netherlands. To protect her privacy, I won’t reveal her actual name, so let’s refer to her as Oksana. She is very generous in sharing how the war in Ukraine affected her and how she overcame this difficult situation. In an interview, Oksana shared her story, her coping mechanisms, and her hopes for the future. 

Oksana says, “I was somewhat surprised by the amount of assistance that came to my country and the number of Ukrainian people who moved to other countries to build a life and find a safe environment.” 

Oksana, a 19-year-old Ukrainian, has personally experienced the devastation of the war. Despite this, she remains positive and inspiring. She fled from Ukraine and started to build a life in the Netherlands in March 2022. Oksana expressed her gratitude to be able to stay in the Netherlands and express her love for the country and its people, despite the culture shock she experienced at first. “I am fond of the Netherlands. When I first moved here, I did not know how to ride a bicycle properly. I was surprised that over here the majority of people ride bicycles everywhere.” 

After relocating to the Netherlands, Oksana has been attending the local university. “This is a strange period for me because of the war, I have to live in a different country. It’s also something I never would have considered studying in the European Union, so it’s not precisely what I envisioned a few years ago.” 

Oksana has found that talking to friends and seeking therapy have helped her deal with the stress and pain caused by the war in her country. She also enjoys doing fun and relaxed things, like visiting different cities and trying new foods in the Netherlands. 

Oksana’s advice for other youth and people who are starting school or studying in a new country is to not be shy but to take their time to settle. She encourages others to be open and not let the stress and pain of war consume them. “It’s really positive to spend time meeting new people and making friends in the new country.” 

Although she has not personally used the child helpline services, she knows they exist and how important they can be in helping people affected by the war, especially children and young people. 

If Oksana had the attention of the world for just 20 seconds, she would say, “This war is useless and causes pain not only for Ukrainians but also for people all around the world”. She really hopes that all the wars in the world will end. Her positive attitude towards life, despite the challenges she has faced, is truly inspiring. 

As Oksana continues to study and build a new life in the Netherlands, we can all learn from her resilience and strength Her story is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. 

 

Luuk Tuinier
Child Helpline International’s Youth Advisory Council (#Youth)