Letter of the week: Young people here should learn more about Ukrainian refugees' plight

Ukrainian refugees arriving from Moldova at the international airport of Bordeaux in France on April 21, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

As an avid equestrian who is aiming to represent my country in future regional and international dressage competitions, I have been making frequent trips to the Netherlands for training.

During my most recent trip last month, I had the privilege of speaking with a 36-year-old Ukrainian woman, Nataliia, who told me about her experience fleeing Ukraine as a war refugee.

She shared what it was like leaving the country by train - the cramped conditions and how everybody went hungry as they ran out of food.

Nataliia is among the first Ukrainian refugees who are part of a temporary scheme which allows them to stay in the Netherlands for one year and work without a work permit.

She got a job as a language teacher to Ukrainian refugee children at a local high school. Through her, I was invited to speak about Singapore to a group of these students aged 15 to 17 during their English class.

I gave a presentation on Singapore's many attractive features such as our strong government, multiracial society and hawker culture. I had with me snacks such as bak kwa, salted egg fish skin and love letters for them to sample.

I hope I was able to give them a temporary reprieve from their recent memories of war.

I got a glimpse of how much they miss Ukraine, and how much they hope to return to their homeland.

As a parting remark, a 16-year-old boy said to me: "Thank you for sharing with us about your Singapore. I would invite you to visit Ukraine... but I'm not sure what's left of it."

I think more people my age and in this part of the world should learn about the plight of war refugees and what countries like the Netherlands are doing to help.

Megan Ding

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.