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Ukrainian kids welcomed at local camp

The JCC Camp Daleville, near Moscow, welcomed two children from Ukraine with open arms, thanks to a local group which paid for them to attend.

DALEVILLE, Pa. — Refugee children from war-torn Ukraine are experiencing some normalcy after arriving here at a summer camp in the states.

The JCC Camp Daleville, near Moscow, welcomed two children from Ukraine with open arms, thanks to a local group that paid for them to attend. Now, those kids get to have some fun while getting used to their new life.

Artem Bazarov, age 12, and his 6-year-old sister Mahdina are originally from Ukraine and are spending their summer in Lackawanna County. The two have had quite the journey from their home in Kharkiv, less than 25 miles from the border with Russia. They left with their mother when the attacks on their city began in February.

"To Poland then Switzerland, for three months we were there, and then we came here," said Artem.

Coming to a country and not knowing the language or the culture can be a shock for anyone, but you don't need to speak the same language to have fun at summer camp.

"We just one day heard that their two cousins were coming over here, and we knew we had to get them here and help as much as we could, do anything we could to get them here," said Carli Kalinowski, program coordinator at the JCC camp.

With the help of the Schoenberg scholarship program, Artem and Mahdina were able to enroll in the camp for free.

"Happy that we were able to help them out because we knew they wouldn't be able to afford it if we weren't there," said Elliot Schoenberg, manager of the scholarship.

"These kids up here smile every day, but to see their smiles is just, you know, it's so heartwarming," said camp director Vince Kalinowski.

The kids are already adjusting despite being thrown into something new in a different country.

"It's good that I was able to go here to update faster," Artem said. "It's good practice to learn English faster."

"He's not treated like someone alien, you know? He feels like he's like one of those kids who grew up here. It's a little bit hard for him personally, but he feels accepted," said Olena Rudniy, the children's aunt.

"They are included. They kind of get submerged into a new American life. It means a lot to us and for their mom, for the kids, and they like it," added Alex Rudniy, the children's uncle.

The families are happy together here in Pennsylvania, but Artem and Mahdina's father is still in Ukraine, so they miss him and their home. For now, the kids can try their best to just be kids.

See more videos on our area's connection to the Crisis in Ukraine.  

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