Interview with Jenya Lavicka
By Darie Nani
One day a group of friends were talking about their dreams. They all felt very fortunate with the opportunities life had given them – being born in families that loved them, studying at universities, joining an international student organisation, living and working abroad. However, they all dreamt
of giving something back to the society and specifically their homeland of Ukraine, where orphans are much less fortunate.
From this shared dream, Children-UA was born! An organisations that runs summer camps for underprivileged children, teaching them to believe in themselves, motivate them to study, explore the world and themselves.
When Jenya Lavicka, born and raised in Ukraine, relocated to Basel for a new job, little did she know that she would meet the love of her life and marry “the best man in the world” with whom she now has twin daughters. Jenya always chose toys very carefully for her children. Playing with her daughters, inspired her to launch an exciting project called “I’ll do it myself busy book”, which is serving two causes: first, it is giving jobs to young single mothers with small children in Ukraine and second, the net profit from these books are founding an educational summer camp.
Tell us more about Children-UA and how does it help orphans?
Children-UA organisation runs education summer camps once a year for underprivileged children from Ukraine, aged 12-15 years old. Children who grow up in orphanages without parents often don’t know what to do with their life, where to study, what profession to choose, or what to dream about. Our aim is to broaden their horizons and raise their motivation to study.
We have started this initiative back in 2009 and have organized 7 camps since then. There was no camp in 2014 due to the war in Eastern Ukraine and in 2015 we decided to change the location organizing our future
camps in Switzerland. We are currently planning our next camp, which will take place in Basel, Switzerland from July 27th to August 4th, 2019.
To fund these camps, I started a busy book “I’ll do it myself busy book” – a developing soft book, which helps small children to develop their sensory skills & fine motor skills, which is important for their development.
What is the story behind “I’ll do it myself” busy book?
As a mom of twin daughters, I always chose toys very carefully but when I saw a video about a busy book, I fell in love with the concept right away. In Autumn 2015, my two friends Vladimir and Lilya Ivanov from Dnipro, helped me find 3 young widows of war with small children, who were looking for a flexible job at home. They loved the idea of making busy books so together we started production.
What do you think is the biggest impact this project is making?
Ukraine has been at war since summer 2014. That is when my family and many other families from Donbass region in Ukraine lost their homes. People were forced to relocate and start their lives again from the ground up. I strongly believe that the best way to help others is by giving them the means to support themselves and this is what “I’ll do it myself busy book” project does. I am very proud that while my children & many others have the opportunity to enjoy these books, women in Ukraine have a job making them. Also, there are the summer camps, and the “I’ll Do It Myself” busy books play a huge role in funding them. I am still amazed by what an impact this project has had, not only on the children who play with them, but also on the teens and young people who attend the camps and the families who are able to support themselves back in Ukraine.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced do far?
The biggest challenge was and still is to sell the busy book at its price. People find it too expensive & often tell me I need to reduce the price. I don’t want to do that because people making these books deserve a good pay. In addition, the handmade product of this excellent quality should not be cheap. It would diminish their self-worth, which wouldn’t be fair.
How can people support your organisation?
Well there are several ways, you can visit our website to get inspired but you can donate, you can become a partner and of course you can buy the book. The net profit all go towards helping the running cost of the camps.
Who is the person you admire most & why?
The person I admire is my husband. This man has so much wisdom, patience, tolerance, love, well thought ideas, that if we had more people like him, this world would be a much better place to live in. I learn something
new every day from him, how to be better connected to myself, how to handle stress and deal with daily challenges. He is also a great listener and this is a virtue I am trying to learn more and more myself.