The camp is full of activities – bus trips, songs and games, riding motorcycles with Latvian bikers, amusement parks, a trip on Latvian naval partol ship. The days are deliberately so saturated to let the children rest from the thoughts of war for a moment, said the head of the Namejs Foundation, former Commander of the National Armed Forces Raimonds Graube.
“The basic idea is that we load them emotionally so that they forget these tragedies and horrors for this week,” said Graube.
“These are children whose fathers or mothers are on the front, there are also children whose parents have fallen in the war. This is a very emotional camp,” Graube said.
Still, the horrors of war are relentless. For example, in the evenings when the children go to bed, the air-alarm app on their phones alerts them of bombings.
The Corporal of the National Guard, the head of the camp, Andris Juškāns, said:
“Those alarms they get on a regular basis. Especially tonight, when Kyiv was attacked, many of the children were alerted. It was harder to sleep after those alarms. But they realize they're safe here.”
Viktor Golumbivsky, the camp organizer on the Ukrainian side, said that another thing encouraging these children is the Ukrainian symbols in public places, giving them confidence that Ukrainians are not alone in the fight.
“Every time we leave, kids have tears in their eyes, they don't want to go away. It's the best feedback for our Latvian friends who organize tours and spend time with them,” he said.
Photo: Ģirts Zvirbulis/Latvijas Televisa
Camp members are mostly between the ages of 11 and 13. However, the leaders of the camp have observed that these children are very mature for their age and are particularly well-versed in the details of international policy. On Wednesday, August 2, the President of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs was also able to ascertain this while visiting the camp.
The “Namejs” fund organizes Ukrainian soldiers' child camps in Latvia thanks to donations from Latvian residents, mainly soldiers, as well as companies and organizations.