[Guest Blog] Teaching and inspiring Ukrainian kids far from home

By Global Fund for Children | July 27, 2022 | Europe & Eurasia | Education, Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Youth Empowerment

Editor’s Note: This blog was written in collaboration with Lyceum Educator. 

Inspiration Cafe is a project of the Ukrainian civil society organization Lyceum Educator, which has received a grant from GFC’s Ukraine Emergency Response Fund. This blog post was written by Lyceum Educator staff, with input from young people who participate in Inspiration Cafe.

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, children and youth have been fleeing to relative safety in the western part of the country. Many are sheltering in Uzhhorod, which is located on the border with Slovakia. While most internally displaced children are continuing their education remotely, Lyceum Educator has established an in-person educational hub called Inspiration Cafe for students in Uzhhorod.

A young boy looking up and smiling while friends hang out on bean bags. © Lyceum Educator

Inspiration Cafe is a welcoming educational environment that has become home for more than 240 children and 12 teachers from all over Ukraine who have lost their homes because of the war. This educational hub offers children the opportunity to combine offline learning, creative activity, and action-packed physical education. The students and teachers participate in exciting days of academic study, sports, projects, and psychological support.

Academic classes meet for four hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Educational programs are approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and are taught by a friendly team of teachers.

Tuesdays are sports days for the students, who take part in fun, strategic games that are designed to help them develop practical 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and teamwork.

On Thursdays, the kids actively engage in real-world and personally meaningful social projects in science, social networks, government, and creativity. These activities are aimed at integrating the members of the Inspiration Cafe community – who largely come from eastern and southern Ukraine – into the local environment.

An art activity involving a group of children and young people. © Lyceum Educator

Inspiration Cafe also provides psychological support. Ninety-nine percent of our students and teachers are temporarily internally displaced people. “What is it like to be forced from your home?” is a question they all can answer. Our psychological support workshops are designed to help them deal with any mental health issues that may have arisen from the shock and crisis they’ve faced. The workshops also help them to build resilience to challenging life circumstances. The main thing is that all the students are joined together by those circumstances and look for psychological wellbeing in the Inspiration Cafe.

Here’s what some of the students shared about their experiences at Inspiration Cafe:

Hi there – I’m Karina. I met wonderful teachers and students thanks to the educational hub. It filled my life with a new common purpose. We not only study there but very often we do not go home after classes and sports games. We stay there to play Monopoly and just chill out with hubmates.

Karina A., grade 7

Hello, my name is Vlad. I am an eighth-grade student, and I study at the educational hub Inspiration Cafe. I want to say that it’s not a school like the one we used to go to. It’s something more than learning. I’ve got a lot of friends from all over Ukraine there. We have an active social life there.

Vlad G., grade 8

It’s a new way of learning for me. It is very interesting to study here. We have good teachers and new friends. I feel like I am at home in my hub. Thanks to the hub, I’ve found friends from other parts of Ukraine. Thank you!

Vlad P., grade 8

I really like the educational hub Inspiration Cafe. I’m very glad that people are worried about children and trying to help children improve their knowledge and live in these new conditions.

Danil S., grade 9

I ended up at the hub in a very interesting way. I just was told by my mom that I would go to a new school the next day. My head was spinning with the question “Why?” due to the fact that I still was engaged in distance learning at my school. My first day here was impressive – all the things were different from my school. The teachers are easygoing; we work on the online educational platform, and they help us if we need it. PE lessons have changed my mind about this subject. I’d like to thank Inspiration Cafe for a completely new way of learning and meeting new and interesting people.

Dasha P., grade 10

I really like the hub. I heard about it at first from a geography teacher; he came to my hostel and explained everything to us. I really liked the idea because at school I missed a lot of lessons, which affected my grades. The hub helped me with my grades, and I understood some things that I did not understand before. I am grateful to the teachers who support me and help me in everything.

Vlad B., grade 10


“The main task of the Inspiration Cafe concept is to help young Ukrainian refugees in their new place of residence, and help socialization amongst these children. Since the launch of the project, about 400 children who have moved because of the war have already studied in the hub in Uzhhorod,” shared Lyceum Educator.

Header Photo: A young boy smiling. Photo provided by Lyceum Educator.

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