Home to 100 children in SOS Children’s Villages

On March 23, four buses with children and young people reached the Hermann Gmeiner Academy in Innsbruck after a long journey of 25 hours. Half of them went directly on to SOS Children’s Village in Imst.

Those in charge only had twelve days to prepare everything: “It was anything but trivial,” said Wolfram Brugger, manager of the Innsbruck site, describing the challenges. Especially since the Innsbruck site was set up as a seminar center, in Imst an empty building where retired SOS Children’s Village mothers used to live after their active time had to be adapted.

SOS Children’s Village

The group was therefore temporarily accommodated in a hotel in Imst and could only move to SOS Children’s Village after ten days. “They were furnished, windows were replaced and the heating installed,” Brugger recalled of the tour de force, which was carried out in part with the help of many volunteers.

Lessons in Innsbruck for students and attendants

Meanwhile, everyone in Imst and Innsbruck goes to various primary, secondary and secondary schools. An internal program was created for the little ones and a German course was established for the accompanying persons, said Efendi Onay, head of a joint apartment for unaccompanied minor refugees in Hall in Tirol.

Children paint from notes

SOS Children’s Village

Although he has been working with refugee aid for a long time, every situation is different: “You know pretty much what it takes to receive the children – but you do not know who you are.” He reached out and spoke about his work with clear enthusiasm. Of course, he does not know how long the care will be needed: “But we are prepared for all periods.”

It is a great advantage that both places have large sports fields and playgrounds for outdoor activities. Tricycles, scooters, running, jumping or football are now part of everyday life – in Imst also with children from SOS Children’s Village. There are also separate spaces for creative games, painting, reading or making music, Wolfram Brugger said.

Children here do not feel anything for the war at home

One of the caregivers is Olena Kolos, who worked in a Ukrainian institution for orphans and children in difficult situations at home. She and the children feel welcome and receive “positive help”, she described her experience. When the kids came back after their first day of school, they said, “We do not understand a word, but we like it.”

Girl pushes a boy on the meadow

SOS Children’s Village

A total of 1,100 children and young people in Tyrol

The children and young people are part of about 350 children who had lived in a care facility in Ukraine and are now in Tyrol, reported Gabriele Fischer (The Greens), Minister of Social Affairs.

A total of 1,100 under the age of 17 have found a temporary home here. “3,600 Ukrainians have now been registered in Tyrol and 305 people already have a work permit,” Fischer said. As before, it is mainly women and children who come from the war zone, but far from as many as in the beginning. “The numbers are flattened out a lot. But we are ready to take in more people, ”said Fischer.

The host family program now expanded

SOS Children’s Villages says they have been active in Ukraine for 20 years, especially in eastern Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, 230 refugees, including 176 children, have been received by SOS Children’s Villages in Austria. In all, more than 1,000 children from 122 foster families were evacuated from war zones and housed safely.

The host family program for unaccompanied minor refugees was also extended to Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Salzburg. The NGO also supports many local aid projects, such as in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Dnipro.

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