If anyone asked me how the Ukraine trip was when I got back, I gave a response with mixed feelings. Great, because I found a bunch of relatives who I came to love. And awful, because the living conditions of Ukrainian citizens are so much worse than ours (Dutch citizens).
We bath in luxury.
From the smooth as f roads to the non-corrupted government (let’s take a moment to be thankful for that, my god). From modern technology being common in every household to tremendous freedom: our life is great. People who are considered “far below average” on an economical scale are still rich compared to the Ukrainian average. However, from all the things that bothered me, the worst thing was the Ukrainian educational system.
Again, as a Dutch citizen I have the right to go to school. Actually, I have to attend primary and middle school. Even though there are plenty of differences between all of the school in our small country, they pretty much all fit a certain standard. A pretty high standard, to be exact. Yeah yeah, everyone keeps complaining about it, but nothings perfect of course. However, I know, that if I admit my (future) kid to a school, he or she will learn how to read and write properly, how to do (basic) maths, he or she will learn about a pretty accurate view of history, as well as different countries: geographically and culturally. He or she will even learn a second language (English), up to a level that he or she could understand, speak and read it. Maybe even a third language (French, German, maybe Spanish, Latin or Greek). Also if it is a public school, like the ones I’ve gone too. My parents did not have to pay for my primary education. If it was as expensive as higher education, or even for 50%, I doubt my mum was able to pay for that. The Dutch system takes this into account. Luckily, I’m not dyslectic, have no autism, have no handicap whatsoever. Not everyone is that lucky tho. If I were to be in these cases, our system will support me as well. Basically, this is great. No matter your situation: you have the right to education and will receive it in any way possible. We have even multiple “directions” in middle school. Good with your head? We have this for you. Better with your hands? Worry not, we’ve got your back.
Dutch children have access to unlimited possibilities.
Especially if their parents are willing to invest a bit of their time into “how is my kid doing school-wise” (what every decent parent should).
Now let’s talk about what I came to know about the Ukrainian so-called “system”. Everything is corrupted. Everything. Without an exception. Even f’ing kindergarten.
A friend of mine wanted to admit her kid into kindergarten.When he was just born, she filled in a form and put him on the waiting list. She was number 74 or something. Three or four years later, it is time for him to start his kindergarten experience. She checks the waiting list: she’s number 92. How? How is this possible? After a lot of effort and going back and forth for days, she ended up paying an amount to have him admitted “without the waiting list”.
This is a perfect example of how following the rules will not get you anywhere there. You’re kid will not even get the chance to go learn how to play. Not without some kind of bribery. To be honest, no-one is gonna help you if you can’t give them a few hundred Hryvnia (1 Hryvnia = 25,7 US Dollars atm – it was 30 US Dollars when we were there… a few weeks ago… just sayin’). Keep in mind, that an average income consists of €300 or so.
No-one cares about your kid.
They’re already glad if they can support their own.
Of course, after kindergarten follows primary and secondary school, which in Ukraine is just one school, but consists of I level (4 years), II level (5 years), and III level (3 years). Lemme tell ya: most kids do not reach III level. Simply because it costs more. II level is attainable. However, only you happen to be lucky and have no handicaps whatsoever.
It’s story time again.
My aunt is the director of a school. It’s the only one in the village she lives in, so she knows everyone quite well. One of the kids who used to go there, was a mentally handicapped little boy. About seven years old. I’m not sure which handicap he had, but he wasn’t able to talk properly and didn’t get along well with the other kids.
With “not getting along” meaning he screamed and physically hurt others.
My aunt has gone to his parents multiple times. She tried convincing his mother to send her son to a special school in the city, where they have teachers specialized in teaching kids like him and can make sure he is in a suitable environment. A special bus would pick him up and bring him back home everyday. He will become more calm within this environment where he is less pressured. His mother refused. No way that she was gonna show that hér kid was too dumb to go to a regular school. Her words, not mine…
So what did the so-called “mother” do in this case? She beat him up. This is not a special occasion. The neighbours can hear his screams on a daily basis. Eventually she locked her SEVEN YEAR OLD up in his room (literally, locked up).
At this point my blood started boiling.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. The little boy broke out, went to the henhouse and RIPPED THE HEADS OFF OF ALL OF THE CHICKS. A seven year old… Imagine what can happen if this boy becomes older, a fifteen year old with muscles and uncontrollable anger… He will never be able to live a relatively normal life. His environment will just become scared of him (some already are) and see him as an animal. If a person doesn’t get treated like one, he might actually turn into an animal… Awful. And it’s disgusting, because this kind of messed up behavior could have been prevented with ease.
What happened in the FIRST place, was that this woman got drunk (like she so frequently does), had unprotected sex and did not have the brains to even get the morning after pill or a goddamn abortion. No, she decided to have this child, and not care for it at all. This makes me SO DAMN ANGRY.
Who the f do YOU think you are to ruin this kid’s life from day 0 to the day he dies, alone and scared, angry at the world, and dangerous beyond compare…
Eventually, my aunt got a written agreement of the “mother” saying that the boy wasn’t obligated to go to school. She was glad she had that, because then the government would not bother her about it. There is literally nothing she can do about it, apart from protecting the other children.
This really is the saddest thing I have heard in my entire life.
Knowing all of this makes me wanna cry. It makes me wanna walk up to that woman and smash her head against a wall. It makes me wanna kidnap the boy and bring him here. None of this is even remotely realistic or helpful. I feel like I need to help, even though I have no idea how. I have it so damn good here. Opportunities are being thrown at me from left and right. I get to study, I get to travel to other continents, I can get help for every small thing that’s bothering me. While a few weeks I probably walked passed a house with a little mentally handicapped boy crying in the corner of his room, without even realizing. It’s driving me insane.
I really wanted to share these stories with you. Not to make you feel bad about what you have. We shouldn’t feel bad about our fortune. We should, however, realize how great our lives are. We should try to help anyone who has it even a little bit worse, to the best of our abilities. We should try and create a world in which these situations are completely unthinkable. Where they cannot exist. This world will not *poof* show up next week, or next year, or even next decade. But it is worth fighting for.
At some point in my life, I promise, I will help the children of Ukraine. No idea how, when, or if I will even be able to make a difference. Still, I will help them. Mark my words.
– Katrin –