Little Suns for Hope: Chernobyl Children’s Camp, Switzerland

Little Sun recently received these heartwarming words from Theo Schäfer, director of the Ukrainian children’s camp in Ste-Croix, Switzerland, who gave Little Sun lamps to the children of the camp as a surprise gift of light and hope. 

Now let me report on the Little Suns. The children got them as a surprise on the Saturday evening of the last weekend of the camp. This evening’s tradition includes fondue for the adults – summer fondue, which is quite strange to me but is to the taste of the Ukrainians – and a cinema show for everybody. Videos and photos of this year’s camp are shown and soda and popcorn are served during the interval. Then every child receives a booklet with about 70 photos of the camp and a surprise gift: a Little Sun lamp.

Perhaps the first thought the children had when receiving their lamp was “sunflower” (the sunflower is the national flower of the Ukraine.) But I quickly explained to them that it is, in fact, a light. A light to shine their way in dark winter evenings, a light to help them read or do work in the dark. But that it is also much more.

I explained to them that the lamp has been loaded with sunlight of the Ste-Croix sun, and that, no matter how many times over they would recharge their lamp, there always would be some Ste-Croix energy left inside. Moreover, that everyone in the camp had charged their Little Suns with emotions as well, with emotions that would never wear out.

I suggested to them to light their Little Suns whenever they would have a hard time at “home” or whenever they would feel alone and depressed. The Little Sun would bring back memories of a perfect camp in Switzerland and would bring back light and hope.

So my strong belief is that their Little Suns will not only shine light on a piece of paper or some stones in their way, but that they will be the light or the glow of hope for a better future.

I wish so much to know what some of the kids will report back to me in a few years, because I still remember so well what Natasha, the 16-year-old girl, had told me in Luginy about the photos from the camp she had received four years earlier in Switzerland, of how much her happy memories of the camp had helped her to survive when she was back “home.”

I wish you all some perfect autumn days full of light and full of happiness. Please know that I appreciate very much the caring and the help of such good friends as you are. I am also in charge of transmitting a lot of greetings and good wishes from the members of both the Ukrainian and the Swiss teams.

Thank you, Theo, for brightening the lives of these children, for now and for their years to come.