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Ukraine’s unique celebrations in times of war

The Salvation Army in Ukraine is holding its first national scout camp, despite the ongoing challenges of war.

As Ukraine continues to defend itself against the Russian invasion and struggle with life in a country at war, The Salvation Army continues its remarkable ministry in the Eastern Europe country as it adapts to changing needs and ongoing challenges.


Observing and celebrating international milestones – with their own unique perspectives – is part of that work, as the Ukraine Division recently shared:


Father’s Day

In Ukraine, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Tuesday of June. The Salvation Army Ukraine Division says that “the importance of parental support and love in the life of every child is the key to a happy childhood.

“But the reality of today in Ukraine, unfortunately, is that many children have lost their parents, or are waiting for them from captivity. Or they are worried for their safety because they protect them, their families and homes from the aggressor. Children in their parents see an example of dignity, integrity, devotion, even though they cannot be near them.


“Officers of the division have become spiritual parents for many Ukrainian children. Through them, the children receive care, encouragement, and the opportunity to develop their talents, despite the war stealing a happy childhood from them.”


Ukraine is currently hosting its first Salvation Army national (divisional) Scouts camp.

International Children's Day This day is celebrated in Ukraine on 1 June. In war-ravaged Ukraine, it’s all about “survival and rescue”.


“The main idea of the introduced holiday is to protect the growing generation and improve their lives,” the division says.

“This important event calls for all adults to work to provide children with decent living conditions, education and recreation, as well as secure protection from violence and exploitation.

Children and young people relish the opportunity to be together and enjoy the sunshine, fun and caring environment.

“For the third year in a row on this day, Ukrainian children continue to be ‘children of war’ who suffer in their own home, in their own native, peaceful Ukraine. The war took childhoods, relatives, homes from them; children were forcefully displaced, and many of them were stolen, prematurely died, suffered psychological and physical injuries. Many children were born in cold basements of maternity homes.

Young people praising God and believing in good, despite all that is going on around them.

“The sad statistics indicate that because of the armed aggression against Ukraine, 550 children were killed, over 1364 received injuries of various degrees of severity, and on the holiday of 1 June, eight children were injured due to the bombardment of Balaklia in the Kharkiv region. It’s all the responsibility of the aggressor country.

Young people in Ukraine continue to become senior soldiers in The Salvation Army.

“Therefore, 1 June 2024, for Ukrainian children is about survival and rescue. In The Salvation Army, we work with children and adolescents, creating an atmosphere of trust so, over time, children can take small steps forward, start to look at their future more optimistically and believe in their abilities and talents, and in God.”

Corps activities include Bible stories and studies, youth groups, spiritual discussions, outdoor adventures as possible, Scouts, sports, games, music and theatre. Art therapy, visits from psychologists, cooking and English classes are also popular.


“During interesting excursions, children’s and teen clubs, Sunday School and meetings with psychologists, children exchange emotions and energy of thoughts and, as a result, smiles appear on their non-childish adult faces.

Praising God at the Scouts camp. The theme is 'There is no darkness.'

“And children believe that the Lord has created the world of good, that the forces of good will inevitably reign over evil.  And this inspires The Salvation Army in its their tireless service.


“Happy Children’s Day! Let the life of every child be happy! May the Lord protect all the children! Amen to that!”


Corps around Ukraine continue to support internally displaced people.

World Refugee Day World Refugee Day on 20 June is observed annually around the world to draw attention to the plight of millions of people fleeing war, violence and persecution. The day also focuses on nations’ international obligations under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.


This year’s theme was ‘Solidarity with Refugees’. In the words of António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, “Refugees embody in themselves the best that is in the human spirit. They need and deserve support and solidarity – not closed borders and pushbacks.”

Globally today, there are approximately 20 million refugees and 25 million internally displaced people. As a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine, approximately 6.5 million Ukrainians have become refugees, fleeing the country and finding safety around the world. Around 3.7 million are internally displaced, moving to ‘safer’ areas in Ukraine to avoid Russia’s missiles, bombs and drones.


“Being a refugee is about suffering and rescue; it’s about open doors to homes and hearts of caring people around the world,” the Ukraine Division shares.


“All divisions of the Eastern European Territory, and beyond, have opened the doors of their corps to provide assistance to Ukrainians since the first minutes of the great disaster in Ukraine: they provided shelter, food, water, hygiene products, clothes, prayed together and just listened to their horrifying stories.


“The war continues, and the work of these ‘saviour’ divisions with Ukrainian refugees and displaced people also continues in a 24/7 mode.”





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