The War in Eastern Ukraine has brought destruction to the land and people. It also brought destruction and chaos into the young souls of children. They have seen wounded and dead people, torture and death, pain and horror. They survived war, but it still haunts them in their dreams and thoughts. They have seen it all, but they are still kids, who need to be loved, cared for and feel safe. The war has caused a humanitarian disaster. The psychological effects of this disaster need to be dealt with as soon as possible or the repercussions will haunt the people and the nation for decades to come.
With the purpose of alleviating this trauma and horror, on May 12, 2015, “HOPE worldwide of Canada” in cooperation with “HOPE worldwide Ukraine” Charity Foundation created the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project and launched a fundraising campaign in Canada. The “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project is an important way for HOPE worldwide of Canada to help Ukrainian children and their parents overcome the trauma they have witnessed in the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine.
The project was developed using the collective expertise of HOPE worldwide collaborators from Canada, the Philippines, the United States and Ukraine. HOPE worldwide has developed significant expertise in providing psycho-social assistance to children at risk after natural disasters and war throughout the world in countries like Haiti, Ivory Coast and the Philippines. In order to successfully raise fund and implement the project, HOPE worldwide plans active partnerships with organizations and charities within the Ukrainian-Canadian community. As well, HOPE worldwide will engage the general public and corporations in Canada to garner support for the project.
Iryna Sukhova, coordinator-psychologist of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project explains: “Child trauma, if not properly and timely dealt with, can disrupt the life of a person and lead to serious psychological disorders. If we want to give kids who were traumatized by war in the East a chance for a healthy, fulfilling life. We need to act now”.
The volunteers-psychologists and psychotherapists will work to prevent the development of PTSD (post-traumatic syndrome disorder) symptoms in children who witnessed and survived war and prevent the need for specialized treatment services in the future. Within the project, the psychologists will use the “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” program developed by the Center for Crisis Psychology (Bergen, Norway) and the Institute of Psychiatry (London, Great Britain). It has been used in many countries and proved to be beneficial for those who worked with children, their parents and guardians.
Simultaneously with the fundraising campaign in Canada, the project Recovery Team started to implement the project in Ukraine. The first training for trainers within the initial stage of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project took place in Kyiv on May 22-24, 2015. Ten practicing psychologists and psychotherapists participated. During three days of the training professional trainers and supervisors Ms. Lyubov Loriashvili (practicing psychologist, leading specialist at Kyiv City Center of Social Services for Family, Children and Youth) and Ms. Nataliya Podolyak (trainer of “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” program, practicing psychologist and psychotherapist at “Dobrobut” Medical Network) taught participants how to use “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” manual and program in their work with traumatized children, particularly with those traumatized by the war in the Eastern Ukraine.
Nataliya Podolyak, trainer and supervisor of the project explains: “With “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” we can deal with bad memories, nightmares, fears and anxiety. We help children learn how to cope with stressful situations and complicated life circumstances. Children who have learned and practiced the techniques will be less likely to need specialist treatment services in the future”.
Immediately after the training, to the Recovery Team will have conducted a full course of therapy sessions (hold six therapy sessions and one sum-up session for each group) with children and parents in order to practice their newly acquired knowledge and skills and prepare for the full-fledged start of the main stage of the project in September. Thus, already in May 2015, the psychologists of the Recovery Team started therapy sessions at the temporary camp for IDPs (internally displaced persons) located on the territory of “Teteriv” health resort in Korostyshiv (Zhytomyrska oblast). Psychologists have worked with three groups of children: the youngest ones (6-8 years old), second group of kids aged 9-11 years and a group of teenagers.
It is important and inspiring for the project Recovery Team to see how children and psychologists are bonding and building their relationships on trust. The children talk eagerly about their life in the camp. Most importantly, they have started sharing about traumatic events they have experienced.
After each therapy session, the supervisors and professional trainers of “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” program, Natalya Podolyak and Lyubov Loriashvili, provided on the spot consultation and methodical support for the Recovery Team psychologists. These “de-brief” sessions are essential for the Recovery Team to process their own emotions and be able to continue the essential work of providing psycho-social support and assistance to children, teenagers and parents.
After the initial stage of the project is complete, the Recovery Team will prepare for therapy sessions for children, who witnessed and survived the war in the Eastern Ukraine, in several other camps and social service centers in Ukraine. This stage is scheduled to start in September 2015. With adequate funding from Canada, the Recovery Team will have a wider reach to cover their travel and other expenses.
Within the framework of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project, the trainers’ team will also teach psychologists, social workers and teachers all over Ukraine how to work with the program and manual.
Lyubov Loriashvili, trainer and supervisor of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project states: “Everyone in Ukraine has to learn this program – schoolteachers, kindergarten educators, parents, volunteers. If the children do not get assistance now, in future these children, their families and their kids will encounter serious psychological problems. And the State will have to spend a lot for their treatment and therapy”.
Through this process, the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” charity project will train over 300 psychologists, social workers and teachers to work with traumatized children using these recovery techniques and provide psychological therapy sessions for over 10,000 children and parents to acquire skills and capacities to deal with their traumatic experience, caused by the War in Eastern Ukraine.
To learn more and/or to donate to the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project visit www.hopewwc.org and to partner with HOPE worldwide and help Ukraine, contact [email protected]
For kids to grow healthy and happy. For kids to get a chance to fulfill successful lives. For the blessing of peaceful souls and minds.