Article by: Mariya Prokopenko
Nearly 80 children at the Pilgrim Republic children’s home in Mariupol have recently launched a campaign called Bread and Water for Ukraine!
On the first day, most of the teenagers consumed only bread and water. Over the next ten days, they consumed the same meal instead of either breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Pilgrim Republic students are demanding that the Russian president immediately stop his war in Ukraine. Additionally, the children are asking world leaders to support Ukraine, which is being occupied by the Russian Federation. The students are giving the money saved on food to the Ukrainian military.
“The children gathered for a meeting. At the center they have their own government and president,” explains Hennadiy Mokhnenko, the director of the Pilgrim Charitable Fund and adoptive father of 32 children. “The results shocked me. The students came to me and told me they were announcing the hunger strike. My heart jumped in my throat at the thought of ‘children’s hunger strike’ but I understood that to deny the children and to send them out to play ball was wrong. I limited the duration of the action to avoid harming the health of the children, and our entire center announced the hunger strike. In pedagogy it is very important to encourage this non-conformism, this ability to form an individual opinion and to declare it loudly, even radically,” he says.
Two days before the launch of the hunger strike, over 1000 citizens from various countries of the world joined the action. People are consuming only bread and water for as long as they can. Photographs of these “meals” are being posted in social networks. Savings realized during the fasting are given to Ukrainian soldiers.
Russians have responded quickly to the children’s protest, Mokhnenko says. Numerous electronic messages are arriving to the Pilgrim Republic from the Russian Federation. Their authors say they are concerned about the health of Ukrainian adolescents.
“I answer these Russians: if you are really concerned about the health and lives of our children, go out in the squares, remove your Kremlin bloodsucker and take away your troops. The children thought up the slogan ‘Bread and Water for Ukraine! We love Russia. Go home!’ We love Russia but we hate what the Russian government has done to our country,” Mokhnenko adds.
During the first day of the Bread and Water for Ukraine! action in the Pilgrim Republic, 1000 hryvnias were saved. The children are happy to express their views because they are tired of war. As a result of the actions of the DNR militants, they had to be evacuated twice last year.
“The children are not sitting sullenly in corners, but are happily explaining their views to everyone,” Mokhnenko says. “We have been living on the front lines for five months. When the snipers keep shelling us, the children have the right to demand something from the adults. May God help us defend our land now, and their generation will not allow something like this to happen,” he concludes.