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About the project

“Helping Hand for Ukraine” International Relief Project

Give a “Helping Hand” for children who received war trauma as result of military actions in Ukraine

War Trauma – How it Effects Children

During these difficult times, many Ukrainians suffer from military actions in Ukraine. They face the loss of their close ones, loss of their own homes, forced migration, anxiety and worries. These events are especially traumatizing for children. Children witness artillery bombing and shooting, watch the destruction of their native city or village and their own homes. Such experiences can cause different psychological traumas.
Children traumatized by war are easily scared by loud noises, some of them are afraid to go outside the house. Many of them become depressed; they often cry, exhibit anxiety and worry. Others become nervous, inclined to sudden irritation and anger. Many children face problems with sleeping: they wake up in the middle of the night crying and speak of awful nightmares. Thoughts about the past cause such sadness that they try to force out those memories and avoid any reminders of the past events.
The needs for psychological assistance of those who witnessed and survived the events of war are of utmost importance. Particularly, a focus has to be made on children, traumatized by war, since their experiences and skills to deal with stress, depression and panic will directly influence their chances for fulfilling lives.

About the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” Project

The Project aims to improve the socio-emotional and psychological conditions of children with war trauma and their families (IDPs) who witnessed and suffered military actions in Ukraine.

The Project will:

  • train the trainers (therapists/psychologists, social workers, teachers, educators, volunteers) to work with “Children and War: Teaching Recovery Techniques” manual;
  • provide psychological assistance to children and their parents with war trauma, teaching them skills of psychological self-assistance and techniques of relaxation;
  • foster relations of trainers with state social services in order to ensure immediate attention from professionals to cases of mild and severe mental problems as well as constant aftercare and social support.

We aim to:

  • prevent the development of PTSD symptoms and depression in children who received war trauma;
  • prevent the need for specialized treatment services in the future;
  • help kids learn how to cope with stressful situations and complicated life circumstances in future;
  • help families of internally displaced persons activate and mobilize their own inner resources and foster better social integration and adaptation in the new communities.

Project Methodology. “Children and War: Teaching Recovery Techniques” Program

“Children and War: Teaching Recovery Techniques” manual constitutes the methodological basis of the project. It has been developed in frames of cooperation between the Center for Crisis Psychology (Bergen, Norway) and the Institute of Psychiatry (London, Great Britain). In Ukraine, the manual was translated and adapted by the experts from the Ukrainian Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Lviv, Ukraine).
The manual is developed based on effective-evidence-based methods of treating children’s post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been used in many countries, including Greece, Turkey, China, Sri Lanka, and Iran following natural disasters and during warfare. It proved to be beneficial for those who attended the sessions, thus the manual is considered to serve as a tool for positive mental health therapy. The manual is designed to be used by people, who are not necessarily very experienced in child mental health issues. Primarily, it is used by teachers, social workers, psychologists after short preliminary training. It is important for the implementation of our project as it allows, in a short period of teaching, trainers in Ukraine to use the manual in their work with children with war trauma.

Project Achievements in 2014-2021

  • Over 40 tons of humanitarian aid has been delivered to over 20,000 IDPs in different regions of Ukraine in cooperation with partner-organisations.
  • Over 900 volunteers are engaged in project activities.
  • Over 600 practicing psychologists, social workers, emergency service employees, volunteers went through a 3-day “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” training in almost all regions of Ukraine.
  • Over 4000 children and over 1000 parents went through 7 sessions of the “Children and War” rehabilitation therapy course in Kyiv region, Zhytomyr region, Odesa region, Dnipropetrovsk region, Kharkiv region, Donetsk region, Luhansk region and other regions of Ukraine.
  • 3 rehabilitation-recreation camps for 64 children from Maryinka, Krasnogorovka, Avdiivka and other settlements of the Donetsk region have been held within the “Children and War” program.

One story

Maryna is 10 years old. Her family comes from Vuhlehirsk, Donetsk Oblast (province). She does not have a father; he left them before the war started.
War is not an empty word to Maryna. She witnessed a missile hit her neighbour’s house. Maryna and her mother rushed to help as they saw their injured neighbour woman lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. They brought the woman to the hospital.
Totally absorbed in their neighbour’s situation, they could not even realize what was going on; they even did not care about themselves. However, they were struck with the aftereffects of stress that same night: the girl could not fall asleep because of memories of the dreadful bombardment; and her mother was groaning in her sleep. The next morning, Maryna’s mother’s legs were paralyzed.
The bombardments went on. Maryna looked after her mother for a few days until she recovered. The same day, the family went to Kyiv, then to Odesa. The mother had to work a lot; she hardly ever had time to talk to her daughter. Maryna did everything on her own: went to school, did her homework, attended sports classes. Everything looked fine on the outside, an ordinary family, but both of them had their own pain. The mother could not say a word about events she had experienced. It was especially difficult to talk to her daughter Maryna. The girl did not tell her mother she couldn’t fall asleep because every night she heard the missiles exploding in her memories. Tired from insomnia she dozed away, but in her dreams she could still see the bombardments. She became insensitive to everything. She often shuddered at the noises in public buses.
Maryna and her mother took part in the programme “Children and War” in Odesa. The first accomplishment of mother and daughter was that they could cry among the people who experienced the war as well. The second achievement, thanks to different techniques they were taught, they started to cope with their problems. Maryna could sleep better, she was no longer afraid of loud sounds, and her mother took a day off in order to have some rest. The biggest achievement was the day before the last class. Mother and daughter decided to drink tea together in order to look each other in the face and talk, finally! To talk without fear about what they experienced, how they love each other and how they miss their destroyed house.

The donors and partners of the project are:

HOPE worldwide Canada

HOPE worldwide Switzerland

HOPE worldwide

Kyiv Church of Christ

Ukrainian Credit Union Limited (UCU)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

The Embassy of Canada in Ukraine

Kyiv City Centre for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth

Ukrainian Institute of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Lviv, Ukraine)

Donbas State Pedagogical University (Slovyansk)

Luhansk Regional Psychological Service Training Centre

Red Cross Society in Ukraine (Kyiv)

Mental Health and Counselling Centre of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Pokrovsk)

Society of Samaritans of Ukraine (Zolote city, Luhansk region)

ATO family center “Poruch” (Kramatorsk, Donetsk region)

NGO “ProMir” (Slavyansk, Donetsk region)

Center for Social Rehabilitation of Disabled Children “Leleka” (Gorskoe, Luhansk region)

CF Mission “Podykh Nadiyi” (Maryinka, Donetsk region)

and over 60 more state institutions and nongovernmental organisations.

How You Can Help:

You can donate online:

  • on our website by clicking the orange Donate button at the top of this page, selecting the “Helping Hand” and way of payment;

JOIN IN

HOPE worldwide invites you to join in and become our partner to provide humanitarian aid and psychological assistance to children who received war trauma as result of military actions in Ukraine. Let’s unite our efforts to support Ukraine!

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