Feature: Ukrainian Orphans Settling Down in Slovenia

By , 06 May 2022, 14:00 PM Lifestyle
Slavina Slavina Photo: Petar Milošević, CC-SA-4.0 International

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STA, 6 May 2022 - Twenty children from a Luhansk orphanage are slowly getting used to a quiet life in the village of Slavina near Postojna, which has become their new temporary home. However, one of their guardians, doctor Natalya Golovyna says they will not forget the war so soon given the mere noise of a toy falling down sent them looking for shelter.

Golovyna, a paediatrician and paediatric neurologist, has been employed in the Luhansk orphanage No. 2 in eastern Ukraine for more than 15 years. She arrived in Slovenia in mid-March and has helped with the children's accommodation and care.

"This is the work I enjoy doing more than anything. In Ukraine, there were 40 children in our orphanage. Half of them had already been adopted, yet procedures have not been completed as our courts have not been operational. That's why those children have remained in Lviv, Ukraine," Golovyna has told the STA in an interview.

The 20 children now settling down in a refurbished former school building in Slavina are between one and six years of age. They are accompanied by eight nurses, three doctors and their six children.

"Even though long and tiring, the journey to Slovenia was a kind of adventure for the kids [...]. Once we arrived in Slavina they were thrilled. Being in a new setting, the children are excited and stressed, but they are now slowly settling down. It's peaceful and quiet here and we like it very much," says Golovyna.

They also like the food that is prepared for them by the Postojna kindergarten. The staff accompanying the children are accommodated at the Postojna student dorm where they also get their meals.

Golovyna first visited Slovenia for a holiday in 2006, and has come back several times since. She has learnt some Slovenian and is now also attending a language course. Her knowledge is the more valuable because the other staff do not speak foreign languages.

The paediatrician is accommodated with her friends in Ljubljana together with her two children, sister-in-law and her two children. "I'm afraid our stay in Slovenia won't be very short. We'll definitely stay here until the end of the war in Ukraine, and we all miss our friends and families who remain in Ukraine."

They picked Slovenia as their refuge because of the friends and the bonds with the Slovenians who have adopted children from their orphanage. It will not be possible to adopt the children who arrived in Slovenia now because they will have to return to Ukraine, even though there has been considerable interest in Slovenia for adoption.

They had to leave their orphanage in the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine for Lviv in the west because of the shelling. After rocket attacks started in Lviv, they came to Slovenia via Hungary. Along with Sievierodonetsk their orphanage has been completely destroyed and it will take a lot of time and money to rebuild it.

"It was hard in Lviv [...] we spent a lot of time in the shelter. That's why we like it here in this quiet and relaxing place," says Golovyna, who has thanked the locals for their warm welcome.

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