There are an estimated 1.1 million displaced Ukrainian children across the world.
The school systems in Poland have made accommodations for these children, but they’re short on one supply: books.
The International Book Project (IBP) has been around since 1966, and since it opened its doors, they have shipped upwards of 7 million books around the globe to 167 countries.
Those numbers are about to go up as IBP will be sending 40,000 children’s books to Poland by mid-June.
“All of these bins are being packed to go to Poland and Ukraine, so we got little kid books, older kid books, chapter books, and things like that,” said Lisa Fryman, executive director of IBP.
Six weeks ago, IBP sent out fundraising letters to community partners which noted they were going to help Ukrainian refugee children by sending books.
The community answered.
“We raised over $16,000,” Fryman said. “Schools, libraries, most of our donations come from central Kentucky so they just come from people who live here.”
Kasia Pater, a colleague of Fryman’s, is a native of Poland and helped connect IBP with the Polish school systems. Pater also works in Lexington as an editor and writer.
“A friend of mine, who is CEO of Internationals Book Further, referred me to Universal Reading Foundation. This is a foundation that is promoting reading among children,” said Pater.
Universal Reading Foundation told Pater and Fryman exactly the types of books they needed most.
“They want books for kids ages kindergarten through 4th grade, so children’s picture books, story books,” Fryman said.
Now, it is down to sorting and packing over 40,000 books, and IBP said their shipment should arrive in Poland by mid-August.
“And we will distribute them among children and among Ukrainian refugees and these displaced children because this is one of the areas they’re working on,” Pater said.
Pater said Ukrainian kids are taught English in schools, so these donated books will continue to help build their English vocabulary as their time in Poland is indefinite.
“Many of them will stay,” Pater said. “They have escaped one reality which is war-torn.”
Fryman and Pater said this is a worldwide campaign.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s wife Olena shared on social media that they’re printing Ukrainian books and sending them to surrounding countries to keep their culture alive throughout the Ukrainian/Russian conflict.
Fryman said out of the $16,000 IBP has raised, they will use parts of it for shipping costs and to pay for paper so Polish publishers can print children’s books.