Pavlo, 14 years old,
internally displaced child in Ukraine

Before the conflict, Pavlo was good in school and loved athletics. But during the first months with his new classmates, he felt lonely and aggressive and could not play sports. Until the day his teacher invited him to the “ludoteka”.

Bringing a smile back to the children

Pavlo is a 14 year-old boy from Lugansk whose family moved to Kramatorsk last year. Before the ongoing conflict, Pavlo had good marks in school and was fond of athletics. The first months in his new school in Kramatorsk were very difficult and he was often angry, aggressive and fighting with his classmates. Being lonely and feeling out of place, his biggest fear was to not to be able to play sports any longer.

Pavlo’s teacher invited him to come to the “ludoteka”. The children of Pavlo’s school called it “Hippopotamus”. They felt that the image of a big, calm and kind animal illustrated best how they have been recovering and getting back to their respective lives: slowly but steadily. At the beginning, Pavlo’s classmates were not very friendly but over time, he started to join creative games and finally became fully integrated into the school team and community. One day after class, Pavlo said to his teacher: "We need to finish every day like this. Thank you!" Pavlo practices sports again and has rebuilt a new comfort zone.

Terre des hommes has teamed up with teachers and psychologists in Kramatorsk - a small town in Eastern Ukraine, one of the epicenters of the ongoing conflict - to improve psychological and social support to children in communities hosting internally displaced people. Together they developed creative spaces for the children and called them “ludotekas”.

Not his real name