AFT and Ukraine Children’s Action Project Join Forces to Purchase and Deliver Life-Supporting Generators for Kids, Teachers in Lviv
LVIV, Ukraine—The American Federation of Teachers has joined forces with the Ukraine Children’s Action Project to purchase and deliver 48 generators to every kindergarten and pre-K education center in the Lviv region.
“Our commitment to children and to their learning in safe and welcoming environments does not stop at our nation’s borders,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
“This partnership with UCAP to deliver life-supporting generators to the children and teachers of Ukraine is part of our union’s work to support our colleagues and their students who are living in constant fear because of Russian airstrikes. They are in desperate need of the stability that schooling can provide, but that requires heat and electricity. We are glad to offer what we can to curb the suffering and restore some hope amid darkness.”
The donation came at the request of Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, who raised the urgent need for generators with Weingarten and UCAP co-founders Dr. Irwin and Karen Redlener during their visit to the city in October. Like elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian rockets had struck critical electrical infrastructure in and around Lviv province, plunging the region into frequent darkness. The rolling blackouts have continued into the new year.
The Konner & Sohnen gas-powered generators, which were purchased by the AFT and UCAP, have become essential as the attacks on Ukraine’s power infrastructure has left many schools without power to heat classrooms or cook food.
“Children and families in Ukraine, particularly those who have been displaced because of the war, have been facing much adversity,” said Irwin Redlener.
“Yet they must be able to go to school regularly. Air raid alerts and lack of heat or electricity are powerful barriers that make it virtually impossible for kids to attend classes. There’s nothing we can do to stop Putin’s missile attacks, but we can do something about the freezing temperatures by providing every kindergarten and preschool in Lviv with a backup generator. We’re thrilled to work with the AFT on this essential project.”
The AFT and UCAP worked with the city of Lviv, the Lviv education administration and the region’s teachers unions—the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine and the Polish Teachers’ Union (ZNP)—to procure and distribute the generators, which will be installed in kindergartens and early education centers in early February.
The 1.7 million-member AFT has a long history of support for Ukraine. Weingarten visited the region twice last year at the invitation of the Ukrainian and Polish unions, and in July a delegation of AFT members traveled to Poland to provide on-the-ground educational support to Ukrainian and Polish students (ages 12-15) affected by the traumas of war.
In 2014, Weingarten and the AFT contributed to the rebuilding of union buildings in Kyiv leveled in that year’s riots.
UCAP, co-founded by the Redleners, is an initiative designed to provide urgent mental health and educational support to Ukrainian children who are either refugees in Poland or internally displaced in their own country—all fleeing a humanitarian crisis and barbaric war. UCAP is also developing an online training course, with support from the AFT, for teachers in Ukraine and Poland to help them manage children in the classroom traumatized during the war.
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.