Perpetuate a culture of caring. A student’s journey to help in Ukraine
Helping others in need is part of the daily job – and part of her DNA – for a University of Northampton (UON) student going on a goodwill mission to Ukraine.
Maddison-Vale Ellson is a child and youth student, and with her freshman year under her belt, she’s excited and ready to deliver goodwill packages to the people of war-torn Ukraine.
Over the past few weeks, Maddison has been busy collecting donations for the residents of Truskavets – a town near the city of Lviv – in conjunction with the charity Help for Ukraine BAMK.
She explains what she has done: “It is always innocent people and their children who are caught up in horrible situations like what is happening in Ukraine. After seeing what was happening I felt hopeless just watching it on a screen, and after working closely with children I knew the impact it would have, so I decided I had to do something to help.
“So I started a simple collection of shoeboxes for an orphanage in Truskavets – toys, coloring things or sweets – just little things that I would take there. Since I didn’t know then at how huge that would be!
“I contacted a few local charities and retailers and very quickly received more help than I thought possible. I quickly had clothes for babies and children, canned food, as well as medicine over-the-counter and medical supplies. We now have a total of 200 shoeboxes and about 50 trash bags full of clothes. I’m still amazed by this, so thank you to everyone who added and supported this total.
Now, with the generous transport of essentials and extras ready to go, Maddison-Vale only has to work out the final details before leaving: “I have a large public transport van – and a driver – waiting to leave next week. As the situation in Ukraine is constantly changing, we will be informed of the best starting opportunity.
“It’s clear there is a risk here. Nothing is guaranteed, no matter how well you plan, but I am fully aware of what I could do and have arranged the trip not to be I’ve had several conversations with the charity and my mom and dad, but they know I’m determined to do this.
“Doing something like this is also something that happens in the family. I come from a close-knit family of very caring people. We put others before ourselves and my mother did something similar years ago for a friend’s charity in Romania, going there twice with shoebox donations. I look up to my mom, she means so much to me, and I know she and my dad understand why I have to do this and are proud of me.
After donations drop, Maddison-Vale will be busy for the two to three weeks she hopes to stay in Ukraine, with support work that complements what she learned in class. She adds: “Once the donations have all been distributed, I will act as a ‘responsible adult’ for the babies, children and young people in the orphanage, making sure they have what they need. , comforting them, playing games and cooking meals after collecting the food supply each day. I have made it my goal to make them smile at least once a day.
“I know a bit about the area of child development from my course and the placements I’ve had, such as relationships, abandonment, distressed children and calming techniques, and working with people with special educational needs. I can’t know what it’s like to be one of those kids who survived a war situation, but I feel like I’ll learn a lot from them myself. I think I will come back as a different person for sure.
You can follow Maddison-Vale’s journey on her TikTok profile @maddison.valee