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“Peaceful summer – 2017”: what was it like for Donbas children?


Three years in a row, the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre is implementing the project "Peaceful summer for Donbas children". For hundreds of boys and girls who live in Donbas and have seen the horrors of the war with their own eyes, this was the only opportunity to improve their health condition, undergo rehabilitation and overcome the "war-time trauma".

This year, from July, 9 to August, 21, the Donbas children had rest in three summer camps, which are considered among the best in Ukraine. Two of them are located on the coast of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, another one - in the forest of Sviatohirsk.

Every other day of rest did not look like the previous one. Children played football, participated in various quests, bathed in the sea and just communicated in a kind, friendly atmosphere.

"I'm not afraid, I'm not worried about myself, I'm resting here, I'm just having fun and I’m fine. I’d like to thank the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation that gave me this holiday!", Alisa from Donetsk shares her emotions.

"I do not jump out of bed in the middle of the night because someone starts shooting. I don’t want to leave, I met real friends here," says Andrii from Makiivka.

In addition to recreation and entertainment, the children underwent an important psychological rehabilitation. Experienced psychologists worked with them in the camp, helping them overcome their fears and anxieties through playing activities, workshops and art therapy.

Three psychologists from the Humanitarian Centre, who have received training on "war-time trauma" course, worked with every camp shift. The work of these specialists was aimed at creating an atmosphere of rest, safe space and comfortable communication within the group of children.

The program of psychological rehabilitation of children consisted of 5 classes. It began with an introduction – the self-presentation through projective techniques. Then the guys drew their "safe place", finding internal resources for gaining psychological stability. Then came the integration of emotions in a body, working with a child’s feelings and overcoming fears. The lessons ended with the summing up of the results and consolidation of the positive experience.

"The project "Peaceful summer for Donbas children" is aimed at enabling children from the immediate battle area to rest, feel safe and mentally relax. We involve the best specialists who help children to cope with stress and overcome fears,” told Andrii Khvorostianko, Program and project manager at the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre.

In 2017, 129 children had rest in the "Albatross" camp at the Sea of Azov, another 143 children visited the "Dolphin" camp at the Black Sea, although the majority of the children were accepted by the forest camp "Solnechnyi" in Sviatohirsk, where 200 children aged 8 to 14 have rested.

"In 2017, the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Centre organized the rest and recovery for 472 children. During the existence of the “Peaceful summer for Donbas children” project, over 3,500 children have managed to go on vacation. They made friends, became healthier, felt safe. For them it was a really peaceful summer!" - Oleksandr Vyshniakov, the director of the Humanitarian Centre, concluded.