Ukraine

“The Ukrainian team of eight had not met before the tournament. They may not have been the best team in the world, but they were such huge favourites with everyone as they were so enthusiastic.” As the invasion of Ukraine begins, Amos Director Chris Rose remembers meeting eight of its young people at the inaugural Street Child World Cup.

I have just returned from visiting Umthombo Street Child in Durban with Sarah, my partner. It was the first time Sarah had been back since 2010 when she was one of the volunteers at the first Street Child World Cup and took a lead role in the Street Child Conference that was a key part of the event.

The Street Child World Cup’s aim was to amplify Umthombo’s call for a change in how children on the streets were seen and treated. Central to this (and it remains central to Street Child United, who now run the Street Child World Cup) was that children who were discounted and often seen as being of no value, transformed people’s expectations by proudly representing their countries.

People saw them and wanted to hear their stories and what they had to say. So the basis for the Conference was that if we were to develop policies and programmes for these children, we must listen to them and understand their aspirations and experiences.

As the bombs fall on Kharkiv and the Russian tanks rolled into the country last week, I can’t help thinking of these fantastic young people. They will now be young men and women and may well have children of their own.

One of the eight teams in Durban was from Depaul International who work with children on the streets of Kharkiv in north-east Ukraine. These children flew in from sub-freezing temperatures to a South African spring, wearing the thickest overcoats the Depaul team could find them. They had come from sleeping in heating vents and tunnels below Kharkiv to avoid the freezing temperature. The police would try to catch them and take them to large state orphanages from which the children would immediately try to escape. 

Members of the Ukrainian team hanging from the goal posts at the Street Child World Cup.

Team Ukraine at the Street Child World Cup in Durban in 2010. Image courtesy of Street Child World Cup/Wilf Whitty
— — — — — — —

The Ukrainian team of eight had not met before the tournament, and Depaul had worked wonders by getting them to South Africa. They may not have been the best team in the world, but they were such huge favourites with everyone as they were so enthusiastic. They would happily have spent their time getting sunburnt on Durban’s beach and playing in the sea, which they had never seen before, rather than playing football. But when it came to the Conference they were determined to tell their stories. To say why they were in Durban, to talk about their lives and how they believed that children like them should be treated.

I wonder how scared they are? I wonder whether they are deciding to take up arms to defend their country? I wonder if they are trying to work out how they can keep their children safe?

Two years later, our friends Joe Hewitt and Nick Turner (who were heavily involved in the first Street Child World Cup) went to meet them in the Ukraine, where they were now living with families and were hopeful of a very different future.

As the bombs fall on Kharkiv and the Russian tanks rolled into the country last week, I can’t help thinking of these fantastic young people. They will now be young men and women and may well have children of their own. I wonder how scared they are? I wonder whether they are deciding to take up arms to defend their country? I wonder if they are trying to work out how they can keep their children safe?

Our thoughts and prayers are with them, with Depaul International and the millions of Ukrainians experiencing the horrors of war. They are with all those in Russia who detest what is happening. And they are with our leaders as they try to respond to this reckless use of force.
— — — — — — —

With grateful thanks to our friends at Street Child United




CONTACT US

Amos Trust
St Clement’s
1 St Clement’s Court
London
EC4N 7HB
United Kingdom

Telephone:
+44 (0) 20 7588 2638
Email:
office@amostrust.org
Registered Charity No.
1164234

AMOS SOCIALS

Amos Trust on Facebook Amos Trust on Instagram Amos Trust on Twitter Amos Trust on Spotify

This item has been added to your shopping basket. Please click on the Checkout button below where you can choose your quantity.

Continue shopping Checkout Close