Katia and Ania keep the doors of the local ceramics studio open for children and adults in the frontline city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine
Katia and Ania keep the doors of the local ceramics studio open for children and adults in the frontline city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine   -   Copyright  Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

Cat ceramics bringing joy to children in Ukraine war zone

A child holds up a cup in the form of a cat, a beaming smile lights up her face.

“That’s really what Mykolaiv kids need," said her mother, a resident of the Ukrainian city.

"My daughter really likes it here because she can create things, and she can get distracted from the bad situation outside. She can play with other kids since all of her friends left the city," she told Euronews.

Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
The studio's young visitor says she made a 'cat cup' and is going to hold it 'by its tongue'Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

It took the employees of a ceramic studio in Mykolaiv a bit more than a month to start coming to terms with their new reality.

At the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the place was forced to close its doors. But it soon reopened and now works in exchange for donations. It is transforming the lives of people who didn't leave the frontline city that regularly suffers from Russian shelling and drone attacks.

"We decided to pull ourselves out of that mindset of just waiting every day for the war to end. So we reopened," said Katia, an employee, in an interview with Euronews.

Her coworker, Ania, said that reopening helped both adults and children have some break from the reality of living in the war zone.

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The ceramics store reopened its door as way to provide a momentary escape for the reality of warNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

“We started doing workshops for kids in exchange for a donation of any sum," told Ania.

"There was almost nobody in Mykolaiv back then… But kids from the surrounding buildings started coming to us. They got distracted from the war, and so did we. Working with children and clay really comforts us and helps us forget what is going on around us," she said. 

“That’s really what Mykolaiv kids need," said her mother, a resident of the city.

Supplies for the workshop are becoming harder to buy because some items come from the areas in eastern Ukraine where the fighting is fiercest. But the studio insists on staying open every day for kids and adults.

In the same city, several businesses and a warehouse were destroyed when multiple rockets hit this area on the outskirts of Mykolaiv. Yuriy Horobets, a business owner, found his office reduced to rubble in the shelling.

After losing everything he had worked so hard for, Yuriy says it was hard to comprehend what happened. He and his employees found strength in starting over with a new project that can help their community.

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Denis, a business manager from Mykolaiv, looks at what's left of his office, ruined by Russian rockets in the outskirts of Mykolaiv, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

“The equipment that we dug out, we have now started using. We want to make small houses for internally displaced people, using technology that can be put up fast," he said.

Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Denis and Yuriy pose for a photo near a prototype of a small, easy-to-assemble house, they plan to produce for people who lost their homes amid the war in UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

Projects like these are welcome by locals, as the villages around Mykolaiv and Kherson have been left in ruins in heavy fighting and Russia's shelling.

The families who once lived there are scattered around the country hoping to one day sleep under their own roof again.

Watch the video in the player above.

Journalist • Natalia Liubchenkova

Video editor • Natalia Liubchenkova