Every great journey start with one small step. How true it was, I had a chance to experience during the College of Europe study trip to Ukraine.
At the end of the trip, one part of a programme was devoted to visiting a project co-funded by the European Union. Thanks to help from a girl, alumna of the College who is involved currently with the management of the EU funds in Ukraine, we could have visited one of the small projects made close to the EU-Ukraine border. It concerned a nursery and a primary school located in a small town, around 60km from Lviv and 100km from the frontier.
I would not exaggerate if I say that this short afternoon gave me back my belief that even tiniest efforts lead to great results. Enough to say that whole thing was worth around 15.000 euro, if not less. The project itself was about putting proper doors and windows to this school where small children from the age of 5 to 10 were sitting before all the time in their jackets and boots as it was too cold to take them off. Sometimes it was so cold kids would stay at home because there was no heating in the building.
I guess it’s one of these moments in life when many things for future are decided: our perspectives, job prospects and chances for decent life. If these kids could not continue their education, probably future “careers” of most of them would end up already there. But thanks to their parents, habitants of this town who got involved in the project and getting the EU money, they can still paint their future with bright colours.
During this visit we listened to teachers at that school, their director and many women engaged in that project. How they had to at the beginning fight with people’s prejudices and distrust, how difficult it was to convince people that “the EU” does not want to buy their land with the EU funds. To assure them that only if they organized themselves and collected two or three thousands euro, they would receive missing 80% more to finalize the project. How they set a referendum to decide in a democratic way on the priorities where warming up the school building won in the first place. We also met pupils and children telling us stories about their passions, dreams and life at school. Wonderful, open kids that were given a chance to make their future only with 15.000 euro. The cost of an official dinner in the world’s capitals…