Two years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Alliance2015 members keep working united to ensure more help to Ukrainians in need in war-affected regions. ​Joint emergency Response in Ukraine (JERU) is a partnership of Alliance 2015 members Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe

As part of JERU, mini grants are provided to self employed individuals wanting to start their own line of work or expand their business to financially sustain themselves and their families. JERU and our Ukrainian partner Posmishka UA provided 1 200 EUR per person and supported 10 self employed entrepreneurs.

SERHII, taekwondo for children

The little boy is fascinated by a set of medals that Serhii’s other students brought back from the national competition. All he can exclaim is “Wow!”. The 37-year-old children’s taekwondo coach has been proving all his life that nothing is impossible. Because of the hostilities, he has had to start over in a new city for the fourth time. The man runs the Phoenix sports club. It’s hard to think of a more apt name.

“In 2014, we left Avdiivka for Kropyvnytskyi because of the heavy fighting. My wife was giving birth in another city at the very moment when our town was being attacked, so the maternity hospital was closed”. Serhii’s daughter is now 9 years old. She has never lived in peaceful Ukraine, which is probably why she grew up to be a fighter and champion.

At an all- Ukrainian tournament, *Oksana and another of her father’s student won six medals of various kinds for two. Numerous family moves did not interfere with her training process. The family moved to Ternopil from Dnipropetrovs’k Oblast. Before that, they lived in Kirovohradska and their native Donetsk Oblast.

 “One day the Ukrainian air defenders shot down eight missiles overhead. My daughter and I just went to the store. Suddenly, the air defense system went off about 500 meters away. Not just the child, even I was scared. We just stood there in the middle of the street with nowhere to run”.

It was a turning point when the family decided to leave Dnipropetrovsk Oblast for the western part of Ukraine. Here Serhii was offered to head the regional taekwondo federation. He started training children aged 5 to 10.

“It’s hard at the beginning. The first month you work as an animator. You must get the kids to like it. I see a lot of talented children here. The girls amaze me. If you tell her to hit a hundred times, she will count and curl her fingers, but she will do it a hundred times. And if you tell a boy to hit 100 times, it will be: one, ten, twenty, thirty, thirty-five, eighty-seven, one hundred”.

When Serhii decided to apply for a mini-grant for entrepreneurs from JERU and Posmishka UA, he had little faith that he would become a participant of the project. Now, with a little over a thousand euros, Serhii has purchased special rackets, foam carpets, and protective helmets. He could have asked parents to buy individual equipment for their child. But, he says, he understands that most Ukrainian families are now in difficult financial circumstances.

“The child goes in for taekwondo – she or he likes it. Some parents have money, some don’t. I did not want the child to give up his dream because of money problems”.

Read more about our projects in Ukraine here.

Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine, October 2023
Author: Oleksandra Titorova, JERU Communications Officer
Editing Advisor: Carly Ziska
Photo credit: Oleksandra Titorova, Volodymyr Opyr/Posmishka UA

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