Refugee Children Must Live in Our Hearts

Estern European Refugees

Two toddlers. Two Eastern European children displaced by war.

Displaced by the brutal actions of an evil sociopath.  Seven decades separate them, but this shared trauma will connect them in history forever. Both will bear emotional wounds that no child should ever have to endure.

One child has fled his home in war-torn Ukraine in 2022 crossing the border to the safety of a welcoming Poland. The other, a little Polish boy in 1945 no longer welcome in his ancestral homeland, and a refugee of WWII before he cut his first tooth.

One child I do not know. The other child is my husband Hersh.

My heart breaks for both children, past and present,  because suddenly, tragically, the past is all too present.

Every Child Counts

The current refugee crisis in Ukraine is in terms of speed and scale unprecedented since WWII and it shows no sign of shutting down.

The numbers are staggering.

A Ukrainian child has become a refugee almost every second since the start of the war.

Every single minute, 55 Ukrainian children have fled their country. That is less time than it will take you to read this story.

Let that sink in.

Almost one child per second in Ukraine is becoming a refugee of war.

Their homes, schools, toys, abandoned. Bedrooms replaced by bomb shelters. Separated from family, friends, and the familiar. The stability and security that children need eradicated.

And for what?

After 1945 when the horrors of war were revealed the hope was the world would be cleansed of that virulent strain of hate. We said never again. Never again to massive killings of innocents, to destructive wars, displaced families, and children.

Wounds of War Run Deep

What will become of these children?

The wounds of war run deep for children who are displaced with many bearing psychological scars. Mental health workers report that thousands of Ukrainian refugee children are showing symptoms of severe trauma. Some are shut down, they have stopped speaking.

Children are resilient. Children will heal but the scars will be permanent. I know this.

My heart breaks today for these suffering children who will bear scars. And for those who once were children.

In some ways, the past is always present in the little displaced boy who lives within my husband. With emotional wounds too deep to ever heal, the decades-old walls built to cover pain too hard to feel, blocking out what is too hard to remember, remained impenetrable.

It is not just their history. It is ours. And we are all bearing witness.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


One comment

  1. “The Search”, a 1948 movie about a mother and son separated by war and both interned in separate concentration camps, traced their separate paths to relocating each other after liberation. It is an excellent, touching movie filmed in war-leveled Berlin.

    The thing that one realizes when watching it is literally millions of people after that war were in situations where they had no idea where family members were or if anyone else in their families was alive.

    Anyone who controls armies and systems that create these tragedies deserves to hang or be shot, as have many tyrants and their henchmen before them!


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