ASHLAND, New Hampshire — For nearly a year, a nonprofit based in New Hampshire has continued to bring thousands of tons of food, clothing, and supplies to children displaced by the war in Ukraine.
Common Man Ukraine also focuses on the emotional toll on hundreds of children who have lost family members to the fighting.
More than 300 children have attended trauma counseling camps to give them the tools to help them begin the healing process. But volunteers are only scratching the surface, and more donations are critical to help more kids.
Susan Mathison, one of the founding members of the nonprofit, recently returned from a mission to support the youngest survivors of the war in Ukraine. She showed us pictures of young children smiling through their pain.
"Look at her," she said. "She just lost her dad."
Since December last year, the nonprofit has delivered more than 800 tons of food, 10,000 sleeping bags, generators, and other items to Ukrainian orphanages and safe houses.
Earlier this year, the nonprofit launched the Children of Ukraine Health Retreat. Thirty children are transported away from the warzone in Ukraine for the three-week camp in the Tatra Mountains in Poland. The kids, ages 8 to 15, share a common bond, all having lost at least one parent during the war.
“This will be the first time in over a year that they haven't heard bombing every night. They haven't heard air raid sirens. Every night, it's quiet. They are in a quiet place with no bombing,” Mathison explained.
Besides camp activities, there is art therapy, and kids put on plays and sing. There is also group and individual trauma counseling. A certified psychologist and volunteer teachers from Rotary clubs in Poland work with the kids and encourage them to share their feelings, including a young girl who fought back tears as she read a letter she wrote to the president of Ukraine about how much she misses her dad.
Mathison, who became a widow when her children were only 2 and 7, knows the importance of helping put these children on the path to healing.
“We are giving them a few tools to deal with their loss and the road ahead. These kids will help rebuild Ukraine one day," she said.
The nonprofit is committed to funding relief supply convoys to safe houses, orphanages, and trauma relief retreats in Poland for the foreseeable future. However, they greatly need the public's help to keep the momentum going.
Common Man For Ukraine spends $140,000 monthly for all programs. The cost to send a child to the retreat is $1,000, but funding could run out in about three months. And with winter around the corner, volunteers say people must open their hearts and wallets to keep these programs going. Click here to donate.