Shaping the future through education

Changing course and providing support. This was the motto agreed by the Management Board and Foundation Board of the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation (PCF) on 28 February 2022 during the Ukraine crisis. Since then, 150 people from Ukraine have arrived in the Village and have found a temporary home here. But where do we go from here? Let us look back so that we can then look forward.

The first Ukrainian refugees arrived at the Children's Village in Trogen on 4 March 2022. They were provided with safe accommodation, food and the opportunity to rest. A varied programme of daily activities was set up so that a structure could be maintained in everyday life. The PCF's goal was to help people simply, quickly and straightforwardly. Even though the situation in Ukraine remains dire, the situation in Switzerland is calming down with each passing day. The support is more regulated. The roles have been divided between the authorities, institutions and private individuals. The processes defined. The refugees arrive and continue to their destination.

The PCF agreed with the cantonal authorities that the Foudation would continue to be a place for the refugees to rest once they have arrived, and would continue to support them in the registration process. This should reduce the burden on the authorities and help Ukrainians to reach their destination smoothly. In other words, where most of the refugees wanted to go from the outset or where they have an integrative environment with work, school and a social network. Where the authorities can help registered refugees with obtaining refugee status (Status S), with housing, education and other support services.

Photo: Two mothers with their children in the Pestalozzi Children’s Village

Shaping the future through education

Now that the crisis mode is over, the PCF is switching back to normal operations so that the Foundation's goals can be pursued again in Switzerland: to enable children to engage in intercultural exchange and to impart the values of tolerance, respect and freedom of opinion. In these trying times, the PCF is even more aware of its responsibility as an educational institution, because only through education and awareness-raising can conflicts be reduced or even avoided.

The PCF will therefore be running its programmes again in a limited form from May onwards, allowing the established procedures for welcoming refugees to continue.

Aid in Moldova

As in the children's village in Trogen, the PCF is also providing aid in Ukraine's neighbour, Moldova. Working with partner organisations and authorities, the PCF is providing a safe haven and shelter for more than 2,000 refugees in five state-run reception centres. In the centres in Carpineni, Cimislia, Congaz, Criuleni and Cimiseni, the refugees receive urgently needed hygiene and household items for daily use, such as mattresses, pillows, blankets and towels.

The PCF is able to help the many refugees from Ukraine thanks to the generous donations it receives – both in the Children's Village and in Moldova itself.