The congregation of Spring of Life Church in Orangevale is helping Ukrainian children who fled their war-torn homeland get a moment to enjoy childhood after experiencing the trauma of war and displacement. According to CBS Sacramento, the Sacramento area church brought together Ukrainians who understand each others’ experiences and the effects the Russian invasion had on their families, their homes, and themselves. With games, fun, and Ukrainian music, the children’s worries escaped their minds for a moment as they enjoyed time spent with friends and family at the day camp.
Sergiy Pastushak, a pastor at the church, shared that they want to “bring as much goodness, joy, and love” as they can, especially to the children. Some of the community members have recently arrived from Ukraine, while others have been there since Russia’s initial invasion in 2014. One of the coordinators of the camp, Erik Latkovskyi, explained that the camp “is about giving children who have come to a foreign land with no home a place that feels somewhat familiar.” He hopes that at the camp, they find peace and feel safe.
At the day camp, the children played games, sports, danced, and even learned some English. With some of the staff being war refugees themselves, they could empathize with the children knowing how some may need to talk about their experiences while others may be more quiet. The son of one of the church pastors, Oleksiy Dashkevych, shared that the children need their support and being from the same country, it is easier to help them.
With members of the Ukrainian community having a relative still residing in their homeland or fighting to defend it, their worries and concerns are ongoing. Still, taking the opportunity to lift their spirits and remind them that they are not alone, but surrounded by family and friends who love them and understand their experience is important in helping them cope with their life change. With enormous pride, this Ukrainian community has strong faith that they will survive, but while they seize opportunities to help their children find their smiles again, they do not want others to forget that the war is still going on in their homeland.