The first ladies of Ukraine and Germany held a working meeting within the framework of Olena Zelenska’s visit to Germany and presented the joint project Better Time Stories. The first ladies said that since the start of the large-scale Russian invasion, they have been in constant contact and are implementing many joint projects.

Zelenska thanked her colleague, in particular, for her contribution to humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the field of child protection: the first lady of Germany, Elke Büdenbender, facilitated the arrival, treatment and housing Ukrainian children with cancer in Germany. In particular, on March 23, 2022, on the joint initiative of the First Lady of Poland Agata Kornhauser-Duda and the First Lady of Germany Elke Büdenbender, 36 children from the orphanage in Stepove, in the Mykolaiv region, were were taken by the Polish government and transport planes from Poland to Bonn/Cologne airport. On July 7, 2022, the first ladies of Poland and Germany, Agata Kornhauser-Duda and Elke Büdenbender, jointly visited these children and learned about their living conditions at the Christian Youth Recovery Center.

Zelenska also thanked for taking care of Ukrainian citizens who found protection in Germany against the war started by Russia. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, since the start of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in October 2022, 1,002,763 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Germany, the vast majority of whom are women and children. Registered persons are guaranteed free medical care, social benefits, payment for housing and compensation for accommodation, education, etc.

“Ukraine is grateful to the Berlin Senate for supporting the pilot project to open a German-Ukrainian school in Berlin. It is important to us that such educational conditions for children are created in Germany, which would promote communication and further education of Ukrainian children in accordance with the Ukrainian educational program. We hope that such an approach will also be implemented in other German states,” said Zelenska.

During talks with Ms Büdenbender, she also raised the issue of Germany’s supply to Ukraine of air and missile defense equipment, as well as combat weapons.

“I am obliged to raise the subject of the supply of arms to Ukraine. This should not be a subject of formal communication between first ladies. However, in the situation in which Ukraine finds itself, we are obliged to use every opportunity to be heard. It is about saving lives and defending human rights. We must close the skies and stop this deliberate missile terror from Russia,” Zelenska added.

Alongside the First Lady of Germany, Zelenska took part in the presentation of the Better Time Stories project. This is a non-profit initiative to support Ukrainian children who have been forced to leave their homes due to war. The aim of the project is to help the youngest (aged 3 to 7) to overcome sadness, to integrate into the environment of the new host country and to keep in touch with loved ones back home. , thanks to the books.

Within the framework of the book project, Ukrainian children forcibly migrating to European countries can receive a set of five illustrated books with audio versions available in the original and translated versions (in Ukrainian and in the language of the host country) and with the possibility of recording an individual audio version for each child by their father or other relatives who remained in Ukraine.

The project was initiated by the company Interactive Kids Story (iKs), founded by Ukrainian entrepreneur Andriy Shmyhelskyy, the foundation number 5 of the Princess of the Netherlands Laurentien and the first lady Olena Zelenska.

The initiative is implemented in four countries: Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium. A gift set of 5 bilingual books for children aged 3 to 7 can be ordered from bettertimestories.com.

The official international presentation of the project took place on September 29 in The Hague (Netherlands). Besides Olena Zelenska and Elke Büdenbender, the First Lady of Austria Doris Schmidauer and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands sponsored the project.

“The value of the project is that people who are separated by war, who haven’t seen each other for a long time and who miss each other, can come together through the book and the voice. The value is to feel a loved one next to you again, to spend time with him doing a pleasant family thing – reading. And the value also lies in the fact that the project brings cultures together, because the books there are translated into two languages: Ukrainian and the language of the host country,” said Zelenska.

During the second day of her visit to Germany, Zelenska also met with Frankfurt Book Fair President Juergen Boos. Zelenska expressed her gratitude to the management of the Frankfurt Book Fair for the overall support of the representation of Ukraine at this prestigious international event, in particular for the free provision of a stand with an area of ​​100 square meters, information and technical support.

“This helps to acquaint the professional publishing community, and later readers from different parts of the world, with Ukrainian literature which, against the background of the Russian Federation’s war against our country and the efforts of the invaders to destroy Ukrainian culture and identity, becomes of particular importance and significance for Ukraine,” said the first lady.


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