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Ukrainian children and families are being taken in by Polish families

Two Ukrainian girls in foster care look out the window of a home they are now sharing with a Polish foster family in Bilgoraj, Poland. More than 1.5 million Ukrainians — many of them children — have fled since the Russian invasion.
Claire Harbage
/
NPR
Two Ukrainian girls in foster care look out the window of a home they are now sharing with a Polish foster family in Bilgoraj, Poland. More than 1.5 million Ukrainians — many of them children — have fled since the Russian invasion.

More than 1.5 million Ukrainians — many of them children — have fled since Russia invaded their country over a week ago.

Some are children who had been living at an SOS Children's Village in Brovary, Ukraine, a home for children who have been have been orphaned, abused or neglected.

The international nonprofit finds legal guardians for children without adequate parental care.

A house and playground at an SOS Children's Village in Bilgoraj, Poland. SOS Children's Villages operate around the world to find legal guardians for children without adequate parental care.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
A house and playground at an SOS Children's Village in Bilgoraj, Poland. SOS Children's Villages operate around the world to find legal guardians for children without adequate parental care.

One of those guardians, Luba Yaschuk, says the Russians invaded when she was on vacation with the three children she cares for. They immediately headed for the Polish border, leaving everything behind in their home. One of her children, 11-year-old Vanya, says the panic of war — and escaping the war — is all everyone talks about.

Luba Yaschuk and her three children, including Vanya, 11, were on a vacation in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began. They fled to the Polish border without returning home to gather their belongings.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Luba Yaschuk and her three children, including Vanya, 11, were on a vacation in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began. They fled to the Polish border without returning home to gather their belongings.

The children are now in Poland, taken in by other families associated with SOS Children's Villages. Other Poles are also taking in Ukrainians displaced by war. So many are offering temporary lodging that Polish authorities say they have no immediate need for refugee camps.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A Ukrainian foster girl stands in the kitchen of a Polish foster home. A group of four adults and 17 foster children crossed the border from Ukraine to Poland together.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
A Ukrainian foster girl stands in the kitchen of a Polish foster home. A group of four adults and 17 foster children crossed the border from Ukraine to Poland together.
A caretaker at an SOS Children's Village in Bilgoraj, Poland, walks children through the property.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
A caretaker at an SOS Children's Village in Bilgoraj, Poland, walks children through the property.
A Ukrainian girl is being fostered at a home in Poland.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
A Ukrainian girl is being fostered at a home in Poland.
Sebastian Cybulski, a Polish foster parent, is caring for a Ukrainian family in his home.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Sebastian Cybulski, a Polish foster parent, is caring for a Ukrainian family in his home.
Three Ukrainian girls hang out in the kitchen of their new foster home in Poland.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Three Ukrainian girls hang out in the kitchen of their new foster home in Poland.
Stickers are seen on a window of an SOS Children's Village, where Ukrainians are staying, in Bilgoraj, Poland.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Stickers are seen on a window of an SOS Children's Village, where Ukrainians are staying, in Bilgoraj, Poland.

Claire Harbage
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Joanna Kakissis
Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.
Ryan Kellman
Ryan Kellman is a producer and visual reporter for NPR's science desk. Kellman joined the desk in 2014. In his first months on the job, he worked on NPR's Peabody Award-winning coverage of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He has won several other notable awards for his work: He is a Fulbright Grant recipient, he has received a John Collier Award in Documentary Photography, and he has several first place wins in the WHNPA's Eyes of History Awards. He holds a master's degree from Ohio University's School of Visual Communication and a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute.