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School feels like home to Maria

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A 7th grader receives a warm welcome at a school in Ukraine.

In 2022, Bucha, Ukraine was one of the first outlying areas of Kyiv taken by Russian forces. Academy of Wisdom serves families displaced by the Russian invasion and ongoing conflict, including Maria, a student from the city of Kherson.

Maria Petrova is a 7th grader whose family was forced to move from the city of Kherson, Ukraine to Bucha.

Russian troops occupied Kherson in 2022 and 2023 destroying much of the town’s infrastructure, including a nearby dam. Maria’s home was flooded, and around the same time, both of her parents lost their jobs. The move meant Maria could no longer attend her local school, adding to the stress the family had experienced during Kherson’s occupation

“I felt heavyhearted, and lonely,” Maria said. “In Bucha, I began attending Academy of Wisdom. I was anxious about what my class would be like, and if I would be able to find friends,” she confided. “But when I came to my new school for the first time, I was warmly welcomed.”

“They love God, and they teach us to do the same.”

At Academy of Wisdom, Maria noticed cozy classrooms and teachers who felt safe. “The teachers are kind and wise,” she said. “They love God, and they teach us to do the same.” 

Maria loves beginning each school day with “morning inspiration”, stories that reveal God and His love for people. She is also a member of the student government and Pathfinders Club.

“These opportunities help me forget the difficult times of my past,” she said. “We study the Bible, learn life skills, and help those in need. I feel comfortable at school; it’s like home.”

Refugee Stats:

  • There are 110 million forcibly displaced people worldwide due to persecution, conflict, and human rights violations.
  • Nearly half of all displaced people are children, and almost half of those children are not in school.
  • 52% of all displaced people are from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.
  • 75% of refugees are hosted in low and middle-income countries, many in the Middle East.

Source: UNHCR 2023

Academy of Wisdom in Bucha, Ukraine

"The teachers are kind and wise. They love God, and they teach us to do the same."
- Maria Petrova

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