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UNICEF-supported Community Protection Centres in Eastern Ukraine help children and parents heal emotional wounds

Nadia[1] was in despair when she first came to a psychologist of the Community Protection Centre at Mariupol Youth Club. She and her daughter Vika moved to Mariupol, Donetsk region, from Novoazovsk in non-Government-controlled areas when the hostilities made it dangerous to stay there. They had to start with a clean slate – look for housing, job, new school for the girl who is now 12. Like many other internally displaced people whom we work with, and who left their homes, families and friends, moving came at a price to the mother and daughter. Emotional stress provoked health problems in Nadia – she had surgery and went through postoperative recovery. A divorce with her husband followed. But the relationships with daughter disturbed Nadia the most, as they deteriorated day by day after they had moved. They suffered mutual resentments, claims, aggression…

As a psychologist I was working with Nadia and Vika for some half a year. In two months, their relationships improved – when coming to an appointment, they shared impressions on how they learn to hear each other again, come round, understand and protect each other. Nadia found a good job, entered a university and is getting a second degree. She also got married in summer 2016. Together with her husband, she bought a house in Mariupol, and Vika went to a new school that she likes a lot. When I met Nadia recently, she said: “Thank you! I am extremely happy! We became friends with my daughter, we understand and love each other!” This is actually why we work in the Community Protection Centre.

Tetiana Herchenova is a child psychologist, she works at one of 16 UNICEF-supported Community Protection Centres. Tetiana runs a parent club, delivers trainings and individual psychological consultations to children and families to heal emotional traumas caused by the conflict.

Tetiana Herchenova, a psychologist of the Community Protection Centre in Mariupol, delivers training to parents. A high-quality and efficient assistance to a child is impossible without parents’ involvement.

Children attend a group art therapy session at the Community Protection Centre in Mariupol. They develop teamwork skills, ability to forge a compromise and come to an agreement which is extremely important for child development.

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