Thanks to the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project, from January to August 2021, more than 30 therapeutic groups under the “Children and War” program were held in eastern Ukraine (in Donetsk and Luhansk regions), during which more 400 children and adults received psycho-emotional assistance. And we wanted to talk about one of these groups separately, because it is special. Classes were held in July-August at the Donbass State Machine-Building Academy (Kramatorsk, Donetsk region). Participants – applicants from the occupied territories of Ukraine and the “gray zone” who came here to enter and study. These young guys have been living in war conditions for 7 years and almost every day they hear the sounds of shots and explosions, see destroyed houses and do not know what “tomorrow” will be and are not even sure that it will come … The boys were wary and even a little hostile to the lessons. Like, “are we sick, that we need psychologists?” and “really, if we are from the occupied territories, then something must be wrong with us”? Even the usual tea drinking was scared at the beginning, as if they were looking for a catch in everything. Nevertheless, they got involved in the work and began to listen carefully to everything that the coaches told about the trauma of the war. More confident and open-minded in the second lesson, they sincerely shared their stories. Although the stories were initially “dry”, without emotion, as a usual statement of facts and events. It seemed that the boys were just used to hiding their pain, no one showed their feelings. Then they happily mastered the Safe Place technique. They liked it so much that one of the teenagers taught this exercise to his mother when he went home for the weekend, and the second boy did it to his younger sister (after another shelling in their village, a neighboring house burned down, and the relaxation technique was very useful for her). When at one of the following lessons the topic of drawing nightmares was touched upon, the guys at first joked: “Are we girls to be afraid of dreams?” Nevertheless, in the process of work, it became clear how relevant this activity was: many noted that they simply had never paid attention to it, admitted that there was a problem, agreed that it needed to be dealt with, and it turned out that almost all of their terrible dreams were associated with military events. And then, with each meeting, the atmosphere in the group warmed more and more, the guys trusted each other more easily and boldly, opened up and were not ashamed of their emotions. Many noted the value of the practical techniques, that they really help them in everyday use, and a little regretted not knowing about them earlier – because then it would be much easier for them to cope with everything they experienced in the past. At the last lesson, the boys cried, laughed, supported each other. And it was very sincere. The coaches listened to so many words of gratitude that they realized how much the program was needed by these guys. And thanks to the project, our participants realized that there is a future and that it is not scary, and all together dreamed that their future would be bright and happy. And we sincerely wish them this! May your dreams come true, our dears!

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