Happenstance and USAID Support Turns Child Center Entrepreneur Into Mentor for Youth Activism

Speeches Shim

Monday, November 16, 2020
Courtesy of Olesia Izuita

Olesia Izuita from Kreminna, Luhansk Oblast, opened a children’s entertainment center with a grant from USAID’s Economic Resilience Activity. With the money, she equipped the center with furniture, toys, and games. In a blink of an eye the center  became a favorite place for children's parties and birthday celebrations.

Toddlers and young children finally had a place to go, but teenagers were left out and that is where her story gets interesting.

“I saw teenagers coming to the children’s center. They didn’t come in, but just stood around the entrance. They were simply looking for a place to hang out in Kreminna. That’s how a place for young people appeared in my center for children,” said entrepreneur Olesia Izuita.

Olesia began working with Kreminna’s young people. She reorganized space in the center, leaving a section for children's entertainment and transforming another area into a youth hub.

The response was overwhelming, and the young people expressed a desire to become civically active. Olesia organized their efforts and registered a new NGO, which she called Charivnyi Pendel (A Magic Kick). Today the NGO has 27 members, aged 15–21. For their first project, they decided they would tackle the town’s considerable litter problem, an effort they called Kreminna – the Cleanest City in Luhansk Oblast.

“Together with the youth community we are committed to making change happen by demonstrating a personal, positive example. We’re going to have such clean-ups every week; our goal is to clean up all the garbage dumps in Kreminna,” Olesia explained.

Since then, Charivnyi Pendel has undertaken cleanup activities regularly. In one such effort, they cleaned the banks of the Krasna River together with city officials. They have also held several clean-up events in the city park.  With every effort, their NGO has taken on new members, such as Yelizaveta Bilokon, a young student activist living in Kreminna.

“Today with so many quarantine restrictions still in place, young people have nowhere to go, so I decided to join Olesia’s team. I thought -- if not me, then who,” explained Yelіzaveta. “If young people can change something in our surroundings, adults will see our example and also join in. We are going to continue this work because we want to live in a clean city.”

Last updated: November 27, 2020

Share This Page