VUB students support Ukrainian refugee children

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Friday, April 29, 2022 — Nineteen students of educational sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel are organising a Walk the Peace Talk to raise money for Ukrainian refugee children and their teachers. Final-year student and teacher Simbareshe Mayika (Simba) will start walking from Brussels to Poland on 1 May.



Simba: "If teachers really are people who can bring about change, then I must walk the peace talk. And if Ukrainian people are forced to run from a country they love, then I will run to them. I, from the African continent. Many people think Africa is all war, famine and disease. But I know that suffering is universal and Africans are a generous people. As long as I am on this earth, I will do what I can to alleviate pain and promote education, anywhere. As an educator, I consider all children to be part of the world’s family."



The human cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is terrifying. Cluster bombs leave densely populated cities in ruins and create trenches that are used for mass burials. Every 90 seconds, a Ukrainian child becomes a refugee. Simba says he felt powerless in the face of the unspeakable tragedies of war. But thanks to his studies, he learned about the power of teachers as agents of change.



"The crisis in Ukraine and education during disasters were the focus of our course on Education and Global Development, taught by Professor Fred Mednick, who is also the founder of Teachers Without Borders."



Inspired by this, he launched the project Walk the Peace Talk with 18 other final-year students and in cooperation with Teachers Without Borders. Simba is walking to Poland to show solidarity with the refugees who have to walk long distances to find safety and to raise money for Fundacja Swietego Mikolaja, a Polish NGO with experience in helping the children of Mariupol and with an extensive network of active support.

Support needed from all corners

To make the trip to Poland successful, Simba and his fellow students are looking for support.



Simba: "We are looking, for example, for shelter and/or food for my journey, or for people who want to walk with me for a while. We also need people who want to publicise my route in order to draw attention to the role of teachers in emergency situations. I would like to talk about this on the road, in schools, at universities, associations, religious institutions or with the government. Of course, we would also appreciate donations to Fundacja Swietego Mikolaja."



In the longer term, Walk the Peace Talk is looking to engage with people who encourage policymakers to focus on disaster risk prevention and planning, for both international and domestic emergencies, and people who advocate for at least a 5% increase in global financial investment for education in emergencies. This increase is required in every phase: disaster risk prevention and planning, intervention in the crisis itself, and rebuilding education.

Find out more and follow the journey on the , Facebook page , and , and the Walk the Peace Talk info sheet.

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