On November 22, a newly repaired sports gymnasium of the secondary school of the village of Novoluganskoye, Donetsk region, was opened in a solemn ceremony.

The event attracted many guests, including His Excellency Bishop-Assistant of the Lviv Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, the Chairman of the Technical Secretariat of the “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative, Bishop Eduard Kava and the head of CBN-Emmanuel’s Social Projects Department, Galina Kucher.

This reconstruction project was made possible thanks to the financial support provided by “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative.

The Novoluhanske school is located on the demarcation line, in the so-called “gray zone” and is attended by about two hundred children still living in the village. The school gym hosts PE classes as well as several children’s sports clubs. One of them is the boxing club organized and managed by one of our missionaries in eastern Ukraine, Alexander Shirshin.  Alexander is deeply involved in lives of about 40 children attending the club for free. Many of the boxing club members come from “at risk” families.  A few months ago, the “Emmanuel” Association supported the boys’ desire to go in for sports, and presented 15 pairs of boxing gloves to the club!

The sports gym of the Novolugansk school had not been repaired for 45 years! The condition of the premises no longer allowed to conduct classes with children – the floor, walls, ceiling, doors, lighting and heating were in unsatisfactory condition. The corridor joining the hall and changing rooms with the premises for sports equipment also required immediate repair.

The school administration appealed to the “Emmanuel” Association for help having heard about several successfully implemented relief project in partnership with “Pope For Ukraine” Initiative.

The repair of the gymnasium was completed just in three weeks! It included replacement of the floor wood, repair and repainting of walls, replacement on water and sewage systems and installation of new toilets, showers and lockers. The children were delighted to see the results? When asked “Why do you need the showers?”, a 10-year-old boy answered, “You see, when children grow up, when they run and jump a lot, and they sweat! So it is necessary to take showers so that it does not smell bad.”

There was a pleasant atmosphere at the opening and it was obvious that it was a big day for children.

“Today, at the opening of this gym, we saw children’s faces and their smiles. Without a doubt, these children deserve a hope. By loving them, we need to show them that life can be different. Yes, their life is hard today, but tomorrow – with hope and trust in God – it will be different”, Eduard Kava said.

From now on, the children of the frontline Novoluganske village will have a chance to spend their free time doing sports in the new gymnasium which was repaired by kind and caring people.

We thank Pope Francis and all caring Catholic Christians who responded to the call  to help the conflict-affected population of Donbas!

It’s the second year that the philanthropic mission of the Pope of Rome Francis has been in action in Ukraine. About 16 million Euro were raised at Catholic churches all over Europe to help conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine. The assistance provided by “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative as of the end of August covered 160,564 only direct beneficiaries, while the number of indirect beneficiaries reaches half a million people.