Annual Latvian charity marathon will benefit Ukrainian child refugees

Take note – story published 1 year ago

This year's "Dod Pieci!" (High Five!) public media charity marathon will call on the public to support Ukrainian children who have arrived in Latvia, Latvian Radio has announced.

Funds donated during the marathon will go to the Emergency Aid Fund via the "" charity donation website to provide direct assistance to ensure the basic needs of children including the purchase of school supplies and computers, health improvement and psychological support, winter shoes, clothing and other urgent necessities.

The charity marathon will be taking place for a ninth year, in the run-up to Christmas, from December 16 to 22, and will retain its usual format with DJs broadcasting from a special temporary transparent studio in the city, on Dome Square.

"High five!" is organized by Latvian Radio in close cooperation with Latvian Television, and charity organization

About a third of the Ukrainian refugees in Latvia are children. Data from the United Nations Organization (UN) show that Europe is currently experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. According to UN data, there are currently almost 39,000 Ukrainian refugees in Latvia. According to the estimates of the Ministry of the Interior, about 30% of all Ukrainian refugees in Latvia are children, mostly between the ages of 2 and 17. This September, more than 3,000 Ukrainian children started their studies in schools and kindergartens in Latvia, while some children continue their studies remotely at their previous educational institutions in Ukraine.

"We must remember that behind every statistic there are living people with their own needs. This year, the charity marathon 'High Five!' will talk about a global problem, but we will collect donations for its local consequences. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has already left an indelible mark on each of our lives, and we all have to understand together how to live on," said Toms Grēviņš, a Radio 5 DJ and a stalwart of the annual charity marathon.

Meet Darina and her daughters

Darina Leleko, a musician and a virtuoso of the Ukrainian national instrument bandura, has been in Latvia with her two daughters – four-year-old Uljana and ten-year-old Marija – since mid-March, when they were forced to leave their home in Mykolaiv and become refugees. Darina's husband stayed in Ukraine to defend his land. Darina currently lives in Sigulda and does a non-musical job on a daily basis, but devotes her free time to music in order to introduce Latvian listeners to bandura playing and Ukrainian songs. Although the family is very grateful to the people of Latvia for the help provided, they do not give up hope of returning home soon.

"At first, it seemed that we would go home in May. In May, I thought it would be in September. September came, and we are still here, because at least at the moment we have nowhere to go back to," says Darina. Four-year-old Uljana attends kindergarten every day, while 10-year-old Maria is currently studying remotely at a school in Ukraine.

"When we arrived in Latvia, Marija started studying at a Latvian school, but we understood that it would be easier for her to continue her studies remotely, both because of the curriculum and because of the language barrier," said Darina. She pointed out that both girls are aware of what is happening in their country, what war means, and they long to see their father again. 

"I am thankful that my daughter experienced the war in person for only 10 days. But every child who has experienced it suffers psychological trauma. There are currently many Ukrainian children in Latvia who need help - be it a computer to be able to study, or winter boots, or some camp where they can feel like children again and not war refugees," says Darina Leleko.

Donations will provide direct support to Ukrainian refugee families.

"" manager Rūta Dimanta said that everything donated in the charity marathon will go directly to the Emergency Relief Fund to provide specific help in each individual case.

"The Russian army has destroyed the lives, homes and families of Ukrainians. All Ukrainian children have been robbed of their childhood. Fathers have stayed to defend the homeland, but mothers and children have fled thousands of kilometers. Life in Latvia must be started from scratch - temporary housing, temporary work, temporary school and friends, along with the uncertainty of when you will be able to return to Ukraine and whether there will be a home to return to.

The charity marathon 'High Five' will help us to understand what it is like to experience the war through the eyes of a child, as well as provide direct assistance to Ukrainian refugee children in Latvia," said Dimanta.


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