On June 3rd, Charles Durrett presented the Antioch community with an online talk, Ukrainian Refugees: Update from the Border, in which he recounted his recent travel to Poland to work to build at least one large childcare center for the benefit of Ukrainian refugees in need. The webinar was hosted by Ken Pienkos, Program Manager and Adjunct Faculty for Antioch University’s Center for Continuing Education, where Durrett has taught several courses.
Durrett, an Architect Emeritus AIA and founder of The Cohousing Company, left just under one hundred days ago for this trip to Poland to contribute to solutions to the refugee crisis caused by Russia’s war in Eastern Ukraine. This need arose because approximately 250 people were housed in a school building in Poland. About 150 of these were children. In his talk, Durrett shared that over 80% of the Ukrainian refugees are children under the age of 18 and 32% are under the age of 5 (UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR). The school was not properly equipped to serve all of these refugees.
For the new childcare center, play times were set up for children to support them in processing their trauma and encouraging healthy outlets. Five clinical therapist volunteers were recruited to offer counseling for children ages four and up and the Polish community has also gotten involved. One of the local high schools with a woodshop made high-quality furniture designed to optimize children’s learning environments.
During the live event, attendees expressed interest in volunteering for this project. Some offered art therapy to the refugees, while others wanted to contribute by creating gardens for food, education, as well as therapy. Others were interested in helping teach the English language.
Here at Antioch, Charles Durrett will in June be teaching the continuing education course called “How to Address Homelessness in Your Town” through the university’s Center for Continuing Education (sign up for its newsletter here). More information about this work along with pictures from the build can be found on the GoFundMe page where The Durrett-Davies Ukrainian Refugee Childcare Project raised over $70,000.
(Read more about Durrett and his course How to Address Homelessness In Your Town in a recent Common Thread feature.)
Video of the full event is available on YouTube and embedded below.
Georgina Marie Guardado is the Poet Laureate of Lake County, CA for 2020-2024, and a Poets Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference and the Lake County Arts Council. She works as the Literacy Program Coordinator for her local library while studying Literature & Creative Writing at Antioch University Online.