Children in 35 communities in Ukraine will begin this school year with new backpacks and school supplies provided by FJC’s humanitarian arm, the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine – Chabad. Shelters are needed in many schools as well.
This tradition, begun several years ago, is more important than ever, as most families are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford new items for the kids. The 1,847 backpacks, sourced locally, are of the highest quality including orthopedic features to protect the backs of the young students. Toys and stationery items supplied by generous European partners, along with pencil boxes and educational materials will fill the attractive and colorful bags.
Unfortunately, many of these children won’t be able to take their new backpacks to school; they will have to study online as the schoolhouses remain shuttered. A new law requires that every school have a bomb shelter readily accessible to students and teachers. Moreover, the shelter must conform to safety specifications and have a ready supply of food and water, furniture, and a generator for power.
For decades, FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ Jewish educational network has operated schools all across Ukraine, educating thousands of Jewish children. While the situation in the country is very dynamic, current plans call for 13 schools to open this year, along with 20 kindergartens.
All told, 18 bomb shelters are needed: all but 3 of the schools and 5 of the kindergartens need shelters. Three schools require shelters to be constructed, ranging in cost from $8,000 to $45,000, while the other schools require repair work and equipment, such as generators.
These range in cost from a high of $76,990 to a more modest $4,100. All told, the price tag to comply with the bomb shelter requirement and ensure schools are safe places for children to return and resume their education is $378,840.
P. S. Pictured above is Liza, a little girl from Mariupol, with the backpack she received last August. At that time no one could have anticipated that this bag would be used to carry all of her belongings when she fled her home, along with her grandmother and cousin, after her father was killed in March.