LUkraine asbl, a non-profit organisation representing the Ukrainian community in Luxembourg, held a musical tribute in Luxembourg City on Saturday afternoon in honour of the children killed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The event, titled "Children who will never", saw a group of about 30 people, including several children, led by Alexandra Tsyliya, walk from Hamilius to Place de Clairefontaine in Luxembourg-Ville, dressed in colourful outfits and ringing bells – a tradition marking the end of the school year in Ukraine. At their destination, the group was joined by about 100 other people who had gathered in the square to pay their respects to the youngest victims of the war in Ukraine, against the backdrop of Ukrainian music and the ringing bells.
The bell-ringing concept is closely associated with the end of the school year in many European countries, including Luxembourg and Ukraine. In the latter, thousands of children will not have any celebrations due to the war waged by Russia; at least 347 children have been killed and more than 647 have been injured since Russia’s invasion on 24 February 2022. As Alexandra Tsyliya explained, over 2,100 educational facilities in Ukraine have been damaged and 216 have been destroyed. She thanked everyone present for joining this event in honour of Ukrainian children who "will never ever forget how their childhood was changed". She lamented that many children would not return to "their favourite schools, classmates and teachers" and that thousands will "never become famous doctors, engineers, managers or scientists because of being killed and still dying every single day". She stressed that thousands of children will have no end-of-school year celebrations in Ukraine: "They hear sirens instead of music. No last bell festivities, no beautiful dresses and costumes, no expectations - just uncertainty".
"In Ukraine, young children ring the bells to mark the start and the end of the school year", explained Ms Tsyliya. "In this way, we want to attract your attention to the lost rites of our children to celebrate such important moments of their life".
Participants then lay toys down in front of the statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte in the square, "paying [their] tribute to all those children who will never go to school again". Ms Tsyliya recognised that everyone is tired of the war, "but you cannot imagine how tired Ukrainians are to lose someone almost every day". She concluded: "Please remember that the war is not over".
Nicolas Zharov, President of LUkraine asbl, stated: "We understand that we cannot stop. It's our obligation to protect and to save the lives of all Ukrainian people, and especially kids, because kids are the future of our nation. Our main purpose is to preserve this future. That's why we are intensively helping Ukraine and I appeal to everyone to continue your support, because the war is ongoing. [...] We [LUkraine] do the maximum we can and we ask that you join our efforts. Next week, we are opening a summer camp for Ukrainian children who came here to Luxembourg. Thank you for your support, and don't give up. Help us. Slava Ukraini [glory to Ukraine]".
Olena Klopota, who is responsible for demonstrations at LUkraine asbl, added that she was grateful for those who continued to support this cause, the "familiar faces" who joined these demonstrations every week. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being for us here, for always supporting here, but also when we ask for help, when we need volunteers, whenever it is necessary", she said. "You are a part of our big Ukrainian family".
Speaking to Chronicle.lu, one of the attendees, Olena, shared why she was present on this occasion: "I'm Ukrainian and this demonstration is very important for me, because I'm also the mum of two children and today, we remember that many children in Ukraine suffered from the aggression of Russians. Children were killed. Children [who could] make a lot of good things in this life, they were killed by our neigbours".
"It's not okay in the 21st century and all the world needs to understand that this is evil, killing all these children. We need to remember it, we need to remember that everybody of us could be in the place of these families who lose their children. I have no idea how these fathers and mothers can survive after this", Olena continued. "This is a tragedy and we need to keep supporting Ukraine, supporting all the people who suffer now. We need to think not about only ourselves, we need to think about others, because now Ukraine is the country which stops all of this evil, all of these Russian soldiers. And if we will not stop it altogether, it will spread all over the world, like a virus of anger, of non-humanity. So, it's very important to show people, to give an example that we need to be active, we need to make things according to our heart and help everybody".