Paddington Bear and Ukrainian refugee children in WIZO’s care.

Paddington Bear and Ukrainian refugee children in WIZO’s care.

Do you remember the story of Paddington Bear?  It’s about a young bear who arrived at Paddington Station wearing a droopy hat and carrying a battered suitcase. He had label around this neck that read “Please look after this bear. Thank you”.  

Paddington Bear was far from home and while sitting on his suitcase something miraculous happened. The Brown family noticed him, read his label and took him home to lead a mischievous life. 

Paddington Bear was a child bear in need of a safe home. 

Michael Bond creator of Paddington Bear modelled Paddington Bear on Jewish refugee children arriving at Reading Station in England in the Kindertransport in the 1940s. He said, “They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions”. Michael Bond was moved by the sight of these children and they were the inspiration for Paddington Bear.

Fast forward more than 80 years. Refugee children from Ukraine are fleeing their homes. They arrive in Israel bewildered, traumatised and worried about loved ones left behind. Some are on their own, others are with their mother or a grandmother. They are far away from home and in a new country. 

But, when today’s Ukrainian refugee children arrive in Israel a loving family is mobilised to help them to overcome trauma and adjust to their new home. The WIZO family of social workers, nurses, educators, youth workers and volunteers at our youth villages, our residential schools, go into action to find beds, clothing, shoes, personal hygiene items books, laptops and Ukrainian speaking teachers and psychologists. Most importantly, they provide compassionate night-time adult supervisors and support workers for our residential schools because, for many of these children living in a dormitory with children they don’t not know and without their parents, night-time is often the most difficult time.  

WIZO members all over the world are so proud of our dedicated WIZO family doing what matters in a time of great need for Ukrainian and Russian children in our care.   

In an interview 2017 Michael Bond said “…Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees”. We agree, and it’s WIZO’s job to keep refugee children safe and help them thrive. 

Link to article about Paddington Bear and the Kindertransport

Written by Nina Richwol