Only one year ago, as they landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, children and staff from the boarding school located in north-western Ukraine were welcomed with great enthusiasm by KKL-JNF staff and local children with a warm, kind welcome. The children were placed one year ago at the KKL-JNF Nes Harim Field School. Since then, they have entered local schools and participated in activities and tours across Israel. Now that they have settled in the city of Ashkelon, where they live their daily lives, KKL-JNF has decided to mark the anniversary of their arrival in Israel with a celebration of tree-planting at the Or Chaya school in Ashkelon.
The trees planted by the children were donated by the German Air Force; the Ambassador of Germany to Israel, Mr. Steffen Seibert, attended the moving ceremony. In addition, Artyom, one of the children from Ukraine, told the Ambassador of his experiences during the war and his adjustment to life in Israel. "We are having a great time in Israel, we are happy to plant a tree in Israel with KKL-JNF. I'm also happy that my friends are here with me."
Ambassador of Germany to Israel, Steffen Seibert: The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has brought unimaginable suffering to so many innocent people. It destroyed homes and schools, uprooted families and turned millions of Ukrainians into refugees. As much as I hope that this war will end as soon as possible, I also hope that they will find hospitality and shelter here in Ashkelon. I am grateful to the community of Ashkelon, the Jewish National Fund as well as our colleagues from the German Air Force for all their efforts and support for the children living and learning here and for this beautiful ceremony."
Shariel Gon, Director of Fundraising, Resource Development and External Affairs Division, KKL-JNF: "Having assisted in their integration, we are delighted to see that the children have found their place in Israel and have adjusted well to living here. We are privileged to have been able to offer children who have had to flee Ukraine a warm, loving home after the hardships they had endured; we will continue to assist our brethren in the diaspora as much as we can and whenever we are called upon. Today's tree plantings are taking place thanks to the donation made by the German Air Force. KKL-JNF is grateful for this and is proud of its collaboration with Germany led by KKL-JNF Germany."