A Penicuik woman, who works for the Christian charity, Scripture Union Scotland, has just returned from a trip to Ukraine.
Jackie Ringan (53) is no stranger to the former Soviet state, having been there eight times in the last six years. This time she was leading a team of six Scottish young people using their gap year to help run camps for children.
SU Scotland, which is this year celebrating its 150 years anniversary, is known here partly for its residential holidays for children and young people where they can develop new skills, confidence and friendships. Jackie was part of an international group aiming to offer something of this experience to youngsters who would never otherwise get the opportunity.
The first week Jackie’s group stayed in a campsite in Vorzel, just outside Kiev, where they met with others from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. She was one of a number of people delivering leadership training and working with the young volunteers to plan camp activities for the following week. These took place in small villages for children aged between five to 15 years; in some places up to 130 youngsters turned up.
Jackie, the organisation’s director of development, said: “It was so encouraging to see our young people from Scotland grow as individuals and as a team as they worked to make a difference in the lives of children through games, songs, craft, drama and just spending time with them.
“Although we did have interpreters there are many ways of communicating and working effectively together, often with much fun and laughter.”