What Is War to a Grieving Child?


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What Is War to a Grieving Child?

July 18, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET
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Video by Mona El-Naggar, Jonah M. Kessel and Alexander Stockton

Ms. El-Naggar is a reporter and producer. Mr. Kessel is the deputy director of Opinion Video, where Mr. Stockton is a producer.

Kids didn’t start the war in Ukraine. They aren’t fighting it. They won’t be responsible for ending it. They have had little say in the matter, yet they have suffered deeply.

In the Opinion video above, we hear from Ukrainian children who have lost a parent during the conflict. A team from Opinion Video met them in western Ukraine, at a two-week retreat intended to give grieving kids the space and support to confront their pain and begin to heal.

The program, called Wonder Camp, is part of a support mission in Ukraine by an international organization, Children of Heroes Charity Fund.

“These kids are not part of this war, but they are casualties,” said Brice Espino, the chief executive of Children of Heroes, which provided the funding for the camp and gathered the participants. (Ahead Foundation, a Ukrainian group, supplied the camp’s personnel and ran the program.)

Children of Heroes is supporting more than 5,000 Ukrainian children who have lost a parent in the war. The group provides them with educational, housing, legal and psychological support until they turn 18.

“All they want is a normal life,” Espino continued. “We want to remind them there is a bigger world outside of this.”

The children’s accounts in the video, and the emotional wounds they reveal, are moving and powerful testimonies to the horrors of war and the damage the conflict has inflicted on Ukraine’s most vulnerable — and most innocent — population.

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