Nearly two years on from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, millions of Ukrainians continue to live with the trauma of war, grief and family separation within and outside Ukraine. Thousands of host families, churches and NGOs are still offering care. For this newsletter, we want to focus in on one example of support as a way of asking people to keep praying for and helping Ukrainians and all those who are seeking to assist them: Ukrainian Christians themselves and their many foreign friends.
EEA affiliate World Without Orphans Europe has been bringing together partners to provide emotional intelligence care for Ukrainian mums and children who are processing the trauma of war. In Poland, Romania and Ukraine, their partners have found imaginative ways to support and train parents and other carers to enable them to help their children to express their feelings in healthy ways. These emotional intelligence skills improve wellbeing and also communication and connection within the family.
World Without Orphans Europe partners have also been providing opportunities and resources directly for children to consider their mental health and receive one-to-one support. One of these occasions was at a summer camp organised by Alliance for Romania Without Orphans, partnering with YWAM Ukraine & Poland. It was a fun holiday for children but also provided space for these young people to look carefully at their emotions in workshops and one-to-one sessions. Parents explored how to understand their child’s feelings and respond well. Professionals from several nations learned about trauma care and how best to assist families in wartime.
A particular resource is a set of Friendship Cards which enables children to process their trauma through stories. Hundreds of sets of cards have been distributed and training given every month so that parents and professionals can assist their children.
Olya, a refugee mum from Ukraine said “With the help of the cards I can find out what feelings my child is experiencing. In everyday life, we use the cards in the form of games, we make up stories, and we look for solutions to various situations with the help of cards. For me personally, I have noticed that I am now more calm in dealing with conflicts.”
Another initiative has been developed by World Without Orphans Global in partnership with the Centre for Lifelong Parenting at Oxford University. Hope Groups are peer support groups, run by and for Ukrainian mums, where trauma is explored over 8 weeks. They have had a massive impact on the emotional health of parents.
The power of networking and partnership has meant that all of this work around emotional intelligence is spreading faster, equipping families, psychologists, social workers and orphanage staff in Ukraine, Romania and Poland.