From January to August 2017 around 55 educational establishments had been damaged, ruined or temporarily closed from both sides of the front line. Apart from this, about 700 educational establishments were damaged in the very beginning of military actions. Lasting danger together with weak psycho-social support can lead to long-term psycho-social problems among children. More than three-fourth of school directors and teachers, questioned around the front line, informed us on the drastic behavioral changes among pupils before and after the conflict. In the regions that often experience shooting, many children show symptoms characteristic for post traumatic syndrome (PTS).
Parents and teachers are often over-loaded and tend to use negative methods to deal with the crisis, turning to alcohol which also leads to cruel treatment of children and inappropriate attitude to them.
19 000 children live within 5 km from the front line.
Over 54 000 children live within 15-km area from the front-line and are in need of favorable conditions, psycho-social support and leisure.
Long-term stress and tension are hard for any age. A child with its life before him, needs a wise adult by its side, a qualified expert who supports, teaches how to cope with complicated situations, who can safely “cover” a psycho-trauma of the child and help survive this traumatic experience and turn it into resource condition. If that happens, a child gets skills to feel the pain of the other person and to sympathize. Such a child will never let mistreatment towards the other. Terrible experience of the military childhood can be lead into the peaceful direction and bring a new generation of Ukrainians up, who value life over everything and strive to create instead of ruin.
9-years old Vika went to her grandma in the village when the shooting started. “Although my parents tried to take me back, I did not want to leave my grandma alone, because I love her so much. In 2014 there was shooting every day in the village, from 5am till 9am next morning. One day the shooting started when I was just going home. The missile flew over my head and hit the neighbor’s fence. In the morning, me with my friends made a picture out of these shatters. I could not sleep that night – all windows were bouncing. I spent nights in the hallway on the floor trembling from fear. My grandma tried to calm me down with the “holy” water, sometimes it helped me. Now the shooting happens rarely but I still cannot sleep at night like I used to. I was afraid to go to the camp (within the framework of the Action) – it was my first camp. But my fears were in vein – there I met many friends and learned many useful things. For example, now I know how to make fire in case we don’t have light again, as it happened during shooting sometimes. We were also taught what to do when we get scared: imagine the safest place and breathe to calm down”, – told us the girl.
Ruslan’s life was once saved by his shepherd Baron. “Before the New Year I was at home with my father, – told us the boy. – The shooting started. In such cases we already know what to do: I fell down and started to move towards the basement where we stay during the most dangerous times and even sleep sometimes. From the old door we made a base for the bed and covered it with mattresses.
Our dog got scared from the loud explosions and broke the window to get in. Trying to calm him down I slowed down. And when we finally came out of the house to go to the basement a piece of the missile flew in a few centimeters from me. I realized that if Baron did not stop me then the piece of the missile could hit me”. The boy was living in the village surrounded by block-posts. In order to get home, he had to stay in line for four hours. Ruslan was forced to move often.
Relationships with new friends were not that easy: “I became harsh. It was hard for me to open up. And here in the camp I realized that it was temporarily and because of stress. And I learned how to deal with it. We even have lessons with horses (hippotherapy).
These are strong and noble animals who don’t talk, but in their deep eyes we can drown. Here I learned to notice details and find common ground with new friends. There are children with similar stories in the camp”.