Hannu & Oili experience a different kind of Christmas in Ukraine

Did we think we could escape the commercial fuss of Christmas by travelling from Finland to Ukraine?

We ended up shopping with the Children’s Embassy Team in a gigantic market: the season’s foodstuffs for dozens of families in Kiev and Pisky and the refugee centre. The fuss in the market was rather tiresome, but the recipients’ joy more than compensated for it.


We also bought food for Friend’s House, not forgetting the ingredients of Finnish gingerbread…

Maximizing Joy


As everywhere, children in Ukraine write letters to Santa Claus. And what a joy when they finally open their parcels!

There is joy at the other end, too. Our friends Leena and Anja knitted cardigans for the five children of a needy Ukrainian family. The ladies received a photo of the family last summer already. They told us:

”It was a great joy for us to knit for children whose names and faces we knew. We weaved much love into every cardigan.”

Ours was the joy of delivering the soft parcels. Each child received a beautiful and warm piece of clothing. They were happy to pose for the camera, and their mother was so grateful.

Can you think of a better chain reaction: joy to those who knit, joy to those who deliver, and joy to those who receive the gifts.


The kids in Pisky village ran from school to Friend’s House to bake gingerbread with us. They enjoyed eating their masterpieces afterward. Nadia wanted to make one more gingerbread dough and write down the recipe.

The next day, we loaded two cars full of food for a Christmas dinner in Bobrovitcha refugee centre. The ladies there had cooked potato mash and made sandwiches. These refugees are Ukrainian displaced people from the war zone and the occupied Crimea in 2014. The accommodation centre was supposed to be temporary only, and everyone expected to return home by the end of that year. This is their third year in the cold and utterly dreary accommodation. How they miss their homes!

On return to Friend’s House, Nadia told us that instead of doing their homework today, the kids wanted to write down the gingerbread recipe.

Before the Christmas party in Friend’s House, Viktor instructed us how to act in case of fire. It was going to be full house: some 80 kids plus adults. The children’s performances were excellent.


After lunch, Children’s Embassy and Lions Club Kyiv surprised each child with the Christmas present they had written to Santa Claus about.

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