Israeli organization to operate day camp for traumatized Ukrainian children

The children will learn a variety of topics, some of them organized by the Israeli team that arrived in Lviv a few days ago, composed of professionals in martial arts and physical education.

The Israeli delegation in the central square in Lviv. (photo credit: LEV ECHAD)
The Israeli delegation in the central square in Lviv.
(photo credit: LEV ECHAD)

One hundred Ukrainian children are set to begin a month-long day camp, organized and funded by the Israeli nonprofit Lev Echad (One Heart), in cooperation with the Lviv Municipality and the Israeli Education Ministry.

The One Heart camp will begin on Monday in Lviv after the organization received a letter from the mayor of the western Ukrainian city asking him to assist with finding solutions for 60,000 children who have no summer activities.

The children will learn a variety of topics, some of them organized by Israeli professionals in martial arts, including Krav Maga, and physical education.

Other members of the delegation are therapeutic and mental health professionals who will help these children overcome the trauma from the war.

“We have professionals that will organize therapeutic activities such as art therapy, that will allow the children to process their trauma”

Lev Echad director Tomer Dror

“We have professionals that will organize therapeutic activities, such as art therapy, that will allow the children to process their trauma,” Lev Echad director Tomer Dror said. “As part of the camp, the Israeli-Ukrainian team of instructors, as well as the children, will wear camp shirts with the State of Israel logo and the Israeli flag on them... this is what ‘light unto the nations’ looks like.”

People board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, amid Russia's invasion of the country, in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, July 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)People board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, amid Russia's invasion of the country, in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, July 20, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

Dror was able to raise funding for 100 children, providing two meals a day and a schedule full of content, learning and experiences.

“Each camper costs about $1,000 and our goal is to be able to raise enough funds in order to offer this once-in-a-lifetime experience to at least 500 Ukrainian children,” Dror said.

He said he and his colleagues are in touch with companies and foundations to sponsor more participants or activities for these young children.

Who are Lev Echad

Lev Echad began operating in 2005 with the aim of helping the residents of Gush Katif after the Disengagement. Its founders were instructors and trainees from the pre-military training school Ein Prat in Kfar Adumim. In the beginning, the organization operated teams of volunteers who helped families during and after the evacuation. A year later, the organization was registered and operated among the civilian population in the North during the Second Lebanon War.

Lev Echad opened an operations center in Kfar Adumim (credit: Courtesy)Lev Echad opened an operations center in Kfar Adumim (credit: Courtesy)

“Israel is used to exporting hi-tech and innovation but we also have a lot to help or assist other countries in how to cope with difficult situations of crisis and trauma, because of our own unfortunate history”

Lev Echad director Tomer Dror

The organization had many senior Israelis on its board such as ministers Ayelet Shaked and Chili Tropper. One of the founding partners is activist Erez Eshel, who is currently the organization’s chairman.

“Israel is used to exporting hi-tech and innovation but we also have a lot to help other countries in how to cope with difficult situations of crisis and trauma, because of our own unfortunate history,” Dror said.

The organization has also sent 200 Israeli volunteers to Ukraine and its neighbors during the past few months.

“We wanted to help the Ukrainians establish a sister organization, called One Heart Ukraine, in order to teach them how to help themselves as we have done here in Israel.”