While war may seem to stop or slow down ordinary life, for children affected by it, it may do the opposite. Children affected by war are often forced to speed up their lives and become little adults. Young boys and girls may feel like they have to step up when a parent is deployed or their families experience a loss. When we met 13-year-old Mark, we recognized that he was one of these young adults.
When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Mark, his mother and his his little brother were all forced to flee to neighboring Moldova. Like many other Ukrainian fathers, Mark’s dad had to stay behind in Odessa to join the military effort in defending Ukraine. Quickly, Mark stepped up to the plate and began to engage in new responsibilities. He learned how to use public transport, went grocery shopping, helped with housework and he took care of his little brother.
During his school classes at Anastasis, the CWS-supported educational center in Balti, Mark started thinking about how to take care of his mom and brother. He decided he would become an artist and sell his paintings. His first goal was to use the money from his paintings to buy his mom a birthday present.
Mark got to work and took both his school commitments and art lessons at Anastasis very seriously. He was a young man with a plan! To support Mark in his artistic endeavors, we gifted him a brand-new art kit. As soon as he completed his painting, our partners at the center surprised him by buying it from him to showcase in the center. Mark is saving the money to buy a gift for his mom and brighten up her birthday.
Today, Mark is still on his journey to become a successful artist. Through our program, we are making sure Mark can pursue his dreams while also feeling the freedom to have fun and just be a kid. Mark’s beautiful painting is a bright and colorful reminder of what our youngest program participants can do when they are determined, encouraged and full of hope.
As the war continues, you can support other children like Mark by donating here.