Tent Schools International

Ukrainian students return to school in Bucha

The Russian invasion of Ukraine forced students and staff at Academy of Wisdom in Bucha to scatter. Many student families had already fled an invasion in eastern Ukraine five years prior; this is their second displacement. TSI sent urgent funds in spring to support the school.  

An update and letter of gratitude from Alina Tolbas, school director in Ukraine

Dear TSI supporters, 

I want to thank you for your desire to help our school. We hope to continue to provide educational services, help children and their families, and tell them about the love of Jesus for them.                         

After the Russian invasion of Bucha on February 24, the school council made the decision to cancel parent fees for educational services. Our school is a non-profit organization supported by tuition, but with the dedication of our teachers we continued to instruct students online after they were displaced. Although we did not have enough funds to pay the staff, we believed the most important thing was to retain our students, wherever they were. We went forward with faith that God would provide at the right time. 

At that time we had 30 teachers and 16 employees. Unfortunately, some staff members lost their opportunity to teach as they fled the invasion, and in the end they had to resign. Today we are down to 20 teachers and 14 employees.                                

One of the greatest answers to our prayers was your offer to help. With your donations, we were able to purchase 10 laptops for the remaining teachers, which were necessary for them to continue their work. We were then able to spend the rest of the funds on part of our teacher salaries in August. 

Education is now offered in a wide range of ways

In order to retain as many students as possible, we are now offering in-person, online, family-based and externship forms of education. Parents of first graders voted for in-person learning in the majority, so we gave them the opportunity to study within the walls of the school in Bucha. Now we have 170 students: 115 studying online, 35 in the family form of study, two in the external form of study and 18 first graders who are in-person. We lost some students when they fled to other countries and it was understood they would not return to Ukraine. 

With the start of the new school year, we waived the entrance fee for new students but resumed a minimal tuition requirement on September 1. Most students were provided with an additional discount of 50%. These families had mulitple children in our school system, children with disabilities, or they were unable to pay the full amount due to financial need. This leaves only a small portion of parents who are able to pay full tuition.

Safety measures are put in place at school in Bucha

We feel for those children who are now studying in-person in Bucha. It was a risk to start studying at the school site. We have done everything possible for the safety of the children and now leave everything in God’s hands. We built a bomb shelter for the in-person students and kindergarten children. When the air raid alarm sounds the children go there with their teachers to wait out the danger.             

We would be grateful for your continued support for our school. We need to pay our teachers and other employees as the work of the school is impossible without them. We also have challenges with utility bills. But we believe that this is God’s work and He will not leave us. Thank you for your help with funding so far – getting that felt like a safe space for us. You feel safer when someone wants to help you. 

Alina Tolbas lives in resettled housing in Germany with her family, where she has been working from home since February. She visits Bucha periodically and hopes someday to return.

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