UNICEF, U.S. Embassy and Alior Bank open exhibition to recognize the resilience of children from Ukraine who have found safety in Poland
The exhibition "From Dark to Light" can be seen in the open-air gallery on the fence of the Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw.
Warsaw, September 12, 2023 – Today, UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland, United States Embassy in Poland and Alior Bank officially opened an exhibition showing how art therapy is helping children from Ukraine in Poland cope with the impact of war.
Fear, anxiety and difficult memories of the war in Ukraine, but also a sense of security, hope and joy of life in Poland – these children's emotions can be seen from the works of the exhibition "From Dark to Light", which is open to the general public at the open-air gallery on the fence of the Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw. Each tells the story of a child's experience of war and displacement – but also of healing.
The children’s drawings, paintings and sketches presented at the exhibition were carefully selected by psychologists working with children from Ukraine at the UNICEF-supported Warsaw Center for Education and Development, which has been operating since June last year. The works were created during group art therapy classes or individual psychological and psychotherapeutic sessions conducted by trained psychologists and psychotherapists, from Poland and Ukraine.
The exhibition was possible thanks to the support of the United States Office of Population, Refugees and Migration and Alior Bank Foundation.
Children who have fled the war in Ukraine are suffering from the invisible wounds of war. Thanks to art therapy classes, they can express their emotions and work on difficult experiences, which is extremely important in the healing process, said Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, Country Coordinator for the UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland. The works that we present at the exhibition show the path that children have gone through during classes with a psychologist. I am glad that now everyone can see them and I thank our partners: U.S. Embassy and Alior Bank for supporting this project. I hope that the exhibition will provoke reflection for many visitors to the Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw.
The Ukrainian children who found refuge in Poland and neighboring countries experienced trauma. They had to live with this pain, while coping with loss, and a new environment – how does one deal with these invisible wounds at such a young age? And then came help. Amidst this darkness, they found a light, said Mark Brzezinski, Ambassador of the United States to Poland. I vividly remember first seeing their artwork on display at UNICEF and the Warsaw municipality’s Edu Hub. It is so moving to now see it on display in such a public setting. This incredible artwork is testament not just to the resilience of Ukrainian refugees, but to the immense healing power of art therapy.
While developing Alior Bank’s current strategy, we established that social responsibility would serve as our distinguishing feature. The logical consequence of this decision lies in an extremely strong commitment to comprehensive assistance to war refugees from Ukraine. For this reason, we have set up the Alior Bank Help Centre which, by the way, is one of the largest in Poland, where we work in close cooperation with UNICEF, for instance. A moving outcome of this cooperation comes with the exhibition “From Dark to Light”. What appears from these works is the child’s cry for a sense of security, parental closeness, and a peaceful home. This exhibition goes to prove the old truth, saying that one picture is worth a thousand words, says Grzegorz Olszewski, Alior Bank, President of the Management Board.
Mental health and psychosocial support cuts across many of UNICEF’s activities in Poland. Thanks to the support of the UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland, over 915,000 children and their carers from Ukraine have received psychological support. Art therapy is one of the effective forms of treatment supported by UNICEF, which helps children from Ukraine cope with the effects of war and promotes psychological well-being.
The exhibition "From Dark to Light" is in Polish, English and Ukrainian and can be seen until 30 September 2023 in the open-air gallery on the fence of the Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw, near Aleje Ujazdowskie 4.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.