Sofia is 11 years old. She is an internally displaced person from the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. At the “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” therapy sessions the girl was sociable, easily joined the group, performed all the tasks with interest, and most of all she liked to draw. She commented on some of her drawings, saying that she missed her room and her friends with whom she loved to play on the playground in Kramatorsk.

The trainers noticed that in most of her drawings, the girl drew a military figure, which seemed to be further away from all the others. When asked who it was, Sofia began to cry and through her tears she told them about her father. One of the trainers suggested that she move a little further away from the group to talk and calm down, but the girl refused. She said that it was very difficult for her, but she wanted to speak in front of the group because she was holding it back at home and not crying not to upset her mother.

It turned out that Sofia’s father went to war at the beginning. Sometimes he doesn’t call for several weeks, which makes her mother cry at night, and she, Sofia, thinks her father is dead. It also happens that when her father calls, she hears the sounds of explosions in the phone, and it scares her a lot. Sofia remembers the day her father was sent off to war and she is very worried that it could be their last meeting.

When she drew her traumatic memory, she depicted a large figure of her father, and everything around him was completely hostile: black clouds in the sky, explosions along the road. For a long time, Sofia cried and could not think of a way to transform her drawing. The group members suggested that she tries to remember what she liked to do with her father and draws it. Since she loved watching the fireworks that her father used to launch into the sky on her birthday and New Year’s Eve, she decided to turn the clouds and explosions in the drawing into fireworks. She said that it was her father coming home after a victory, and the fireworks symbolized the same celebration that her father used to arrange for her.

Photos are provided by the trainers of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project Natalia Hrebinna and Zinaida Horyachkivska who conducted “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” therapy groups in the summer of 2023. Therapy sessions were held in Topoli village, Khashchuvate village, including the Khashchuvate Lyceum of the Haivoron community, and Moshchene village, in Holovaniv district of Kirovohrad region. We are grateful for the financial support of our partner – the OutcomesX social outcomes marketplace and UBS Optimus Foundation.

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