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How to create a miracle: holidays for children of Donbas. BLOG by Oleksandr Vyshniakov, the director of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre


New Year is a holiday of new hopes for each of us. But we all understand that it is especially important to make these days happy for children who are waiting for a miracle. On the eve of 2018, every child in Donetsk region, who is brought up in a boarding school or a family-type children's homes, received a personal gift from Rinat Akhmetov.

These children’s main dream is to feel the warmth of the family. More than anything, they want to be needed and loved. I am happy that the Foundation’s employees, who had been giving presents to small Donbas residents for two weeks, managed to create an atmosphere of cordial, cosy, truly family holidays. It was possible to bring joy to children who are especially in need of care and support.

One of the most festive events was held in “Avangard Hall” of Kramatorsk, where 4-year-old kids and 15-year-old teenagers - pupils of family-type children's homes – had much fun. I want to individually thank their mothers and fathers - educators who once decided to create such orphanages. They have been taken care of children and a great responsibility - to be the mentors on their life journey, which is not always too easy for the orphans. The kids told us about our parents-mentors at the holiday with great warmth and love.

Kramatorsk children told us of many things: of what worries them, of what they want. They have the same wishes as those every child of the Earth has: to have sweets, toys and a favourite profession in the future. But for these children, the words "peace" and "family" are their heart's desire, because many of them have experienced the horrors of war, fear, shelling and devastation. Many were deprived of the most important thing - the home and the care of loving parents.

Thanks to the holiday, these guys could feel ordinary, happy children. The boys threw soft cubes, the girls danced, the kids surrounded Santa Claus in anticipation of miracles. And I still had a feeling that Rinat Akhmetov Foundation had already made a small miracle for all of them.

So it was in Kramatorsk. My colleagues also visited kids from Mariupol, Sviatohirsk, Mykolaivka orphanages. We were warmly and joyfully received by families with children who receive vital medicines thanks to the Foundation, children who have been treated and can now live to their utmost. At each such meeting, there were many different events and different stories. But there was also something in common - sincere joy and carefree children's laughter.

The Foundation prepared one hundred thousand gifts for the holidays on the eve of 2018. One hundred thousand pairs of joyful eyes smiled at us in return.

“Rinat Akhmetov to children!” campaign has been held for 17 years. Those who were given presents in 2001 by Shakhtar's president Rinat Akhmetov and composer Igor Krutoy has long ago grown up. The campaign itself has changed since that time - it has become massive, covering the entire region. But the goal remained the same - to give warmth and joy to a child. More than half a million children received gifts from Rinat Akhmetov over the past three years - those three years that have become the most difficult for Donbas in recent decades. Those three years when every civilian of the region has a special need to believe in a miracle.