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EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Takes Christmas Presents To Ukrainian Children Of War Facing Punishing Winter
December 9th, 2022 | 14:58 PM | 432 views
Vyacheslav became sole guardian to his four siblings after their mother was killed just three feet from where he stood
A filmmaker who exposed the horrifying reality of life for Ukraine’s 4 million displaced children is returning to the war zone to give them some Christmas cheer.
Emmy-nominated war reporter Shahida Tulaganova met a group of extraordinary youngsters for her ITV documentary Children of Ukraine, including 18-year-old Vyacheslav who became sole guardian to his four siblings after their mother was killed just three feet from where he stood.
Shahida, 47, grew up in Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, but has lived in London for 26 years and has been covering life in Ukraine since 2014, when Russian hostilities began.
She says many of the children and families she met face a long and punishing winter without power, heat and water due to Russian strikes.
When an influx of people got in touch asking how they could help after seeing her heartbreaking documentary earlier this month, she decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign with her colleague so they could take the kids some presents this Christmas.
She tells the Sunday Mirror: “My colleague is driving a van from Manchester to Ukraine stuffed with a variety of wrapped presents from across the community.
"For me, the relationships with people I film never finish when the film is done. It is inseparable.
"I am always in touch with the families and I try to help. I was so lucky to have my colleagues who worked on this film and who feel very close to these children and their families."
While three of the children she met during her filming over five weeks have managed to escape Ukraine, many are still trapped and face an unbearable Christmas.
One of the children, Kira, six, spent a month in a basement with her family hiding from the shelling.
Shahida, who has so far raised nearly £3,700 for the children of Ukraine, says Kira's family haven’t had electricity or heating for the last two weeks and mainly sleep in the corridor to protect themselves from shelling.
To pass the time, Kira would spend her time drawing - but when asked what her pictures were of, she replied: “Soil, shrapnel and metal.”
Shahida says: “Kira’s mum almost had a nervous breakdown. So I asked: ‘How can I help you?’
“She said they needed something to keep them warm and something to help them cook food.
“So we’re trying to raise money for power banks, power generators, warm clothes and so on to get them and other families through this winter. But, most importantly, we want to give these children some sort of joy.
“Very little has changed since we last went there but there is hope and the people are very determined.”
To help the children of Ukraine, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/shokhida-ruseckas
courtesy of MIRROR
by Laura Connor, Deputy Features Editor
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