Making Connections through Volunteering

Many of us want to make a meaningful difference during our time in Ukraine. Through volunteering with AMI-East, a small commitment of time can make a positive difference. If you are a fluent English speaker with a few hours per week to spare, there are Ukrainian students at AMI-East waiting to meet you.

By Christine Hifnawi — IWCK head of membership

Christine Hifnawi works with teens

«I arrived in Kyiv as a ‘trailing spouse, i.e., relocating for my husband’s job and leaving my job behind. I planned to take a pause from my career and do some volunteering. Working with the kids, though, AMI-East has been the perfect fit.

 Meet three lovely teen boys two times per week for an hour of friendly conversation. Their language skills vary, so we stick to simple subjects and small talk. Football and food are two important subjects in our conversations. The teens are eager to practice speaking, super polite, and a joy to spend time with.

Our live chats rely mostly on spoken conversations with an occasionally written chat, so they must use their speaking skills. Their written English is good, but they don’t get the chance to speak with foreigners or native-English speakers at school. I can see them working hard to understand what they are hearing and to formulate their replies.

It is such an easy and enjoyable way to volunteer. I’m glad to be involved.

Marie Aubet works with a group of adult women

«Even if I do not speak Russian or Ukrainian, I really wanted to find a way to make a positive difference in the life of a local person in need. I have seized the opportunity to teach English to a group of women displaced from Luhansk in 2014, who founded an NGO to help people with disabilities mental or physical.

Our class meets a couple of times of week online, something quite easy for me to do. Yet what is simple for me is making a significant impact on my new students. By improving their language skills, they are improving their chances for a better future. And they are eager students. One told me, «I am so happy that one of my dreams is finally becoming real.»

I’m very happy to help. From my perspective, my experience in Kyiv is enriched by getting to know new people I may not have otherwise met and «walk alongside them» (Diane Chandler, The Road to Donetsk).

By giving two hours a week, I am helping some kind ladies to achieve their dream: these are probably the most useful hours of my week…

Covid note: volunteering as an English teacher with AM 1-East is Covid-careful. All meetings are over Zoom, organized by AMI-East.

AMI-East, or «The Association of Women, Youth, and Families with Disabilities of Eastern Donbass-East,» is a Ukrainian nonprofit organization providing legal, psychological, professional, education, creative, social, and physical rehabilitation for people with disabilities and their families, and with a focus on human rights, inclusion, tolerance, and non-discrimination and on youth, women, and children. IWCK has been supporting the organization for over several years.

The English speaking meetups are a new initiative.

Volunteers are needed to lead weekly online meetups for children, teens, and adults to practice English conversation. Specialty teaching skills are not required—only to speak English fluently and slowly, the willingness to share in conversation, and your enthusiasm.