From 4 to 21 June, within the framework of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project, a rehabilitation and health camp was held for 24 children from the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine. The camp was organized in conjunction with a regular partner of the foundation – “Caramel” training project. Children aged 8-9 years from the Donetsk region who live in the combat zone and are exposed to the daily impact of psychotraumatic stress, rested in the village Kozin in the Kiev region on the territory of the sanatorium “Prolisok” and got a sea of bright emotions and impressions of competitions, concerts, games, discos. Excursions around Kiev, as well as the Water Museum, the Academic Puppet Theater and the Coca-Cola plant were organized for them. “McDonald’s” in the area of the subway Poshtova Ploshcha in Kiev pleased with their free lunch and gifts. The Foundation thanks each of these partners for their cooperation, help and not indifferent hearts!

Particularly important in the camp were lessons on the program “Children and War: Teaching Recovery Techniques”. Under the guidance of experienced counselors, psychologists, boys and girls learned to manage intrusive memories to cope with fears, were taught relaxation techniques and relaxing breath and drew their nightmares. All of them had the opportunity to get help in the group and individually, because under the tutelage of one counselor there were only 4 children. All camp counselors are psychologists and coaches who have been trained in working with children’s trauma under the program “Children and War: Teaching Recovery Techniques”. Some of them are Kyivans (Alexander Bogomolov, Natalia Kovtun, Olga Shikalova), some are students of the Donbass Pedagogical University in Slavyansk (Sergei Reshetnyak, Alexander Khodakovsky, Valentina Gridneva), some are from small towns that were touched by the war, and who also witnessed the events of the war…

And children began to practice the proposed techniques right in the camp. One day there was a severe thunderstorm, many were very frightened by lightning and thunder, panic, hysteria, screams, but then the guys gathered in their rooms in small groups and remembered the breathing exercises and the technique “Safe place” – it helped them to stop being afraid and nervous and all gradually calmed down. The trip on the train BEFORE and AFTER the camp was also indicative. When the children traveled from Donetsk region to Kiev and passed a long dark tunnel, many panicked, screeched, screamed, and when they drove back – took this event as a fun adventure: after all, everyone learned to be the “boss of his own fear” (!) And at the right moment remembered for itself some relaxation techniques to preserve domestic tranquility. Some even had fun at this moment!

The restoration of psychological health in the camp was facilitated by art therapy classes at the Art Dacha: children enthusiastically wove bracelets, molded from clay, sewed soft toys, painted with finger paints on paper and special felt-tip pens on T-shirts, which took home as a souvenir. The children mastered the different areas of activity in the “City of Professions”, where they learned to create their own business and earn money, that they can spend after on auction of delicacies and various interesting things. And they also rode on the segway, jumped on a trampoline, walked in a pine forest, bathed in the river and enjoyed a five-time meal with especially fond pizzas and pancakes. It was a wonderful time of healing, inspiration, new discoveries and acquaintances, pleasant friendly communication and unrestrained children’s fun.

We would like to express special gratitude to the senior camp leaders Sergey and Svetlana Fesik for their warmth, support and 24-hour care of every leader and child, and Irina and Alexey Sukhov for organizing such a big event and that they were in contact and in communication “day and night” all 18 days of the camp, responding to all the needs of each of the project participants.

And many thanks to our partners from Canada and Switzerland for the financial support – thanks to you, such projects are possible, and that makes happy and healthy many children who so need our care and support.

PS: Many parents expressed their gratitude for the rest and rehabilitation of their children. Here are some feedbacks.

Polivody Ilya`s Parents: “The child is very happy that he learned a lot of “secrets”to help himself and others. He promised to teach us the exercise “Screen”, smelling and hearing techniques. And his most beloved is the breathing technique. He liked the auction, advertising, trampoline, drawing T-shirts. From the camp he brought his mother a gift made with his own hands, and will sew an owl himself! For 4 children – a counselor, nothing cooler can not be! Ilya is very impressed that he has learned to ride on Segway. I let the child off with caution, you never know… But the I knew from my son`s voice that he was having fun and interest! He was so enthusiastic about each passing day that I decided for the next year – again to you! One hundred likes!”

Robiichuk Victoria`s Parents: “At the training most of all Victoria liked the technique “Safe place”. Knowing this technique, the daughter was able to cope with her fear of thunderstorms when it thundered during the rain in the camp. She was pleased and impressed with the room where there was a toilet, a washbasin and a shower! In the dining room everything was delicious, especially pizza! There was a very sensitive and attentive counselor! The program is very well planned, the children did not miss a minute! One counselor for 4-5 people, psychological help and support throughout the shift! What could be better? We are delighted to have come to you!”

Demchenko Andrey`s Parents: “I did not expect that his son liked it so much! He learned so many techniques, each training day he called us and taught techniques on the phone. He has become much calmer reacting to loud sounds. I liked the presence of the medical officer during the staying and the 24-hour presence of security in the camp. And it’s great that the children were insured. My child is always difficult to take the first step, and this all supported his shift. He liked the fair, performances, segways and excursions! He told me a lot about the “City of Professions”. I am very grateful to the organizers of the camp!”

Petrukhina Victoria`s Parents: “My daughter likes trainings. She talks about the safe, where she hides everything. She said that she was already asleep with the lights turned off. Apparently I need to see you too! The trip was fun and interesting, amazing, and already in the train she painted and painted pictures. In the dining room all is almost like at home, everything is delicious, especially pancakes with meat and pizza! It was very busy every day. And the disco…. It’s super! The most vivid impression – the excursion! She liked “City of professions”, and, of course, “Chistyulya” (prize for the cleanest room in the detachment) and auction! Very satisfied with everything!”

Tallahadze David`s Parents: “The child is very happy with the trainings, the most used is the breathing technique, and “Thermometer of fear” he likes very much. I liked that the children were accompanied by a medical staff during the trip, that they were in good conditions of accommodation and wonderfully nourished. The son learned to ride on Segway. He had an excellent counselor, who gave him a lot of attention and helped resolve conflicts with the guys. The most vivid impressions of the excursions (especially from the sightseeing in Kiev), he liked the “City of professions”, the trampoline and the beach. Many thanks for the camp!”

Perepelitsa Carina`s Parents: “The daughter talked about training, buzzed all ears by some imaginary friend (the technique “The Imaginary Assistant”). I understand that something happened to the child and she became calmer. Excellent counselor, always close, just super! A lot of impressions from the excursions, she liked the trampoline. I am very happy that the child has been in such an interesting and useful camp. Until now, I did not know that it happens. Thank you!”

Lishchenko Egor`s Parents: “My son liked the training, especially the auditory and respiratory techniques. The doctor and counselor showed parental care for my child’s health. Very attentive counselor, followed Egorka like a dad. The organization of leisure – one delight! My boy loves to dance, and the discos were every other day! And besides that, excursions, sports, and painted T-shirts… Many thanks to the organizers of the program that you take care of our children so much!”

Korachkov Vyacheslav`s Parents: “The game “Man and Fear” impressed most of all, when the children learned to face their fears. The trip was organized perfectly, very carefully treated in the carrige to the children on the second shelf. There were straps! the nurse joined very quickly when the illness came to the child, the counselor sat almost the whole night! The most striking impression is “City of professions”, an excursion to the Coca-Cola plant, gymnastics and discos! I am very grateful for the individual approach to the child!”

Dubov Dima`s Parents: “The trainings gave new knowledge and confidence. The son has ceased to be afraid of a thunder-storm. He liked the breathing technique, which he has already applied in the camp. He talked about the techniques of “Screen” and “Safe”. I am very glad that the child became calmer. He was very pleased with the excursions, games, sports events, he liked the auction… The brightest thing is that he saw constant support”.

Gorozhenko Vitalik`s Parents: “Joy is no limit! At the training, he liked the breathing technique and relaxation of muscles. We are happy with the organization of travel, accomodation and children`s nutrition. Vitalik liked the Art Dacha, performances, sports, excursions, trampoline. Thank you so much!”

Zirka Maria’s Parents: “She is very satisfied with the training. Masha’s favorite technique is “Safe Place”. Also like breathing and sound techniques. Everything is organized at the highest level. The most vivid impression – a tour of Kiev and, of course, McDonald’s! Special thanks to the counselor! I am grateful to the organizers of the program. You are doing a very important and necessary job. Thank you so much!”

Poliantseva Anya`s Parents: “Thanks for the trainings, the girl’s favorite techniques are “Safe place”, “Safe” and “Imaginary Assistant”. Anya was treated like their own child, thank you! Very impressed with the tour of Kiev (was telling about the Holodomor), a trip to the Coca-Cola plant, McDonald’s and auction. Thank you very much for the change of scenery and psychological support. Anyuta came to life. Probably, the training helped. And the counselors were caring. Thank you for everything!”

Kuzmina Mirra`s Parents: “The training allowed the girl to understand that you can and do not forbid yourself to think about the terrible or unpleasant. She learned to look fear in the eyes. Thank you, not only the doctors took care of health, but also the counselor. The counselors were always there, like parents. She liked the beach. The most vivid impression – the tour of Kiev, “City of professions” and McDonald’s. We are very grateful to the organizers of the camp for caring for the child, entertainment and attention”.