The Bridges of Hope Camp
The Bridges of Hope Summer Camp has been in annual operation since 2016.
The participants of the first five-day camp in the village of Lishnya (located in the Kyiv area) were the children of refugees and of those in military service, who were preparing for a rehabilitative trip to Italy, as well as some of their friends and relatives who, at that time, needed support, and could not afford a vacation during the holidays.
Fifty children and teenagers aged 6-17 from Kyiv, the Kyiv area, and Kharkiv, took part in the camp. Besides entertainment, the children were receiving elementary lessons in Italian, and working on trusting and overcoming prejudices towards people of other cultures and nationalities. Art therapy sessions and psychological training sessions were organized to help heal the deep traumas and fears they experienced as a result of the war. An important aspect was the children's experience of living communally with volunteers, educators, and camp coordinators, who had gathered from different parts of Ukraine, as well as from Russia and Italy. This helped teach us to view each other humanely, to become acquainted and begin friendships with others, without erecting linguistic, cultural, or political barriers.
During the summer of 2017, the second Bridges of Hope Camp took place. This time, it served as the final stage of the Children of Hope Center's activities for the 2016-2017 academic year. Sixty children from Kyiv, the Kyiv area, and from Kharkiv participated, as well as volunteers and educators from Ukraine, Russia, Italy, France, Poland, and Great Britain. These visible ties of international solidarity for the sake of children, peace, and mutual understanding within the context of military conflict helped camp participants let go of prejudices, place greater trust in others, and to feel safety, trust, and openness towards the world at large.