Former football player organizes holidays for children and recreation for servicemen in Croatia

September 30, 2016.

The initiative of Ivica Pirić to organize visits of Ukrainian children and servicemen to Croatia is to help Croats learn more about Ukraine and will continue next year.

Kyiv, September 30, 2016. The fourth group of Ukrainian children and military concludes their recreation in Omis, Croatia. A total of about 200 people went there within the charity initiative of Ivica Pirić, former player of Kyiv “Arsenal” who currently serves as Honorary Consul of Ukraine in the Republic of Croatia.

The initiative

The initiative continues for the second year in a row. The trips are organized in cooperation with the Ukrainian Embassy and supported by president’s wife, Maryna Poroshenko. Over this time, 800 Ukrainians affected by the conflict in East Ukraine visited Croatia, of them 600 were children. The children’s group includes 150 children of military and internally displaced persons, aged 8 to 15.

Children’s program

Children from the fourth group made went on excursions and played football with Croatian colleagues: children – with their peers, military – with the Croatian combatants. This was informed by co-organizers and participants of the initiative via Skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the project “Spokesman of Peaceful Life,” supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The fourth group that visited Croatia consisted of 150 children aged 8 to 15 years from different regions of Ukraine. “These are the children of servicemen who took part in the combat operations, the children of those who gave their lives for Ukraine, and the children of internally displaced persons,” noted Oksana Havryliuk, representative of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. “It is important that the children of military live together with the children moved from the occupied territories. They communicate with each other and relax, which is a great and positive experience,” added Oksana Havryliuk.

Rehabilitation for servicemen

Among the military who visited Croatia are 45 soldiers of different ranks who fought in the East Ukraine, who were wounded during the fighting. The participants of the trip were selected by the military administrations and civic organization “Ukrainian association of ATO soldiers”. “Half of them are active duty military personnel. Some of them started on this trip directly from the front line. The others are the servicemen who cannot continue to serve in the army because of severe injuries,” informed Volodymyr Kashliuk, head of Social Guarantees Department, Armed Forces of Ukraine. He added that this is the first such trip for all of them.

Croats discover Ukraine

Another important aspect of the trip, especially for children, is to show them another world. Illya Shevlyak, president of the Sport Committee of Ukraine, noted that almost 95 percent of these children have never traveled outside their region, not to mention other countries. “With this trip, they will see how a European country lives, will understand how they want to live, and will tell about this at home,” noted Ivica Pirić.

Colonel Petro Potyekhin, one of the military, noted that not only Ukrainians will build familiarity with Croatia, but also Croats will discover Ukraine for themselves. “If people know more truth about us, they will support us more,” he noted.

How long will it last?

“This initiative will continue, because Ukraine needs help. I went through the war. That is why I am well aware of what these children feel, and I want them to forget about it a while on the trip. And these soldiers help the rest of the country to live in peace quiet,” noted Ivica Pirić. The new trips are planned for the next year from May to September.

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