Many people dream of saving a person’s life, and though it might seem that one has to work as a medic or a fire-fighter to achieve that dream, the reality is that many lives are saved by quickly-provided, professional psychological assistance. The children and young people coming to Poland from Ukraine need a sense of safety and security, quality time with their peers, and a chance to live and develop their passions. Given the thoroughly traumatizing experiences of war, some are urgently in need of professional psychological assistance, without which moving on with integration and development is not possible. Since last year, the Saint Nicholas Intra-Therapeutic Haven Association, which operates from Warsaw, has been helping children andand their parents, to deal with their painful experiences.
We were deeply moved by a letter received from the father of two girls who had been given psychological assistance by Saint Nicholas’ Haven. ‘Your psychologist saved my children’s lives. Their mother died of heart attack in the summer in Poland, and I became a single father of two. My children’s psyches were shattered. The lady, Marianna, worked with my pair of children for more than a year, for no pay, and now at last they have begun to leave home and smile. May God protect you all for your golden hearts and the invaluable assistance to my children. I will continue to be grateful to you for the rest of my life,’ he wrote.
Children as young as 8 have been assisted by the Haven, though the vast majority of its charges have been adolescents and young adults. The suffering caused by the war has evoked a great diversity of responses. In an anonymous survey, respondents tackled the question of what problems they came with. Featuring most prominently were various anxieties, panic attacks, difficulties establishing contact and relationships within peer groups, sleep disorders, low mood and depression, apathy, and self-harm. Some were also confronted with fear for family members left behind in Ukraine — fighting fathers, grandfathers, elder siblings. For some, fear was replaced with mourning for those lost.
Saint Nicholas’ Haven provided individual and group therapy, as well as training in relaxation techniques. The therapists at the Haven have already delivered 1 587 hours of therapy for children from Ukraine facingpsychological hardships. From February to May 2023 alone, 540 hours of individual, and 66 hours of group, therapy were provided. 100% of the respondents saw improvement following the support they received. One of the mothers whose children underwent therapy writes: ‘My child is no longer afraid of planes and loud sounds, of squad cars and fire brigades driving with sirens on.’ Another one shares: ‘Both of my children are off their anti-depressants and are no longer self-harming now. The younger one no longer talks about suicide and has finally started to laugh.’
Among the parents, too, 100% of the respondents reported that the therapy translated into improved well-being for their children. The assistance made a positive impact on many areas of their lives — theybegan to sleep better, their moods were lifted and relationships with their loved ones improved. That was no mere improvement. As one participant termed it, it was reanimation. One of the mums said she observed, ‘Enormous changes in behaviour. My child came to life again.’
From the bottoms of our hearts we thank the Fondation de France, whose help makes it possible for us to provide therapy for children and youth from Ukraine without payment. It is thanks to the aid coming from the Fondation de France that important and extraordinary things are taking place, with children, mums and entire families recovering a sense of meaning and regaining lost hope.
Our psychological assistance is bringing very positive, concrete changes to the lives of children and youth from Ukraine. It continues to be very much needed, which is why we are asking for financial support. We believe that through planned and professional assistance we can together put a smile back onto someone’s face and perhaps even together save a life.
For foreign donors:
Fundacja Świętego Mikołaja
Name of the bank: Bank Pekao SA
Title: donation to help children
Number EUR: PL95 1240 6003 1978 0010 8524 6705
Number USD: PL30 1240 6003 1787 0010 8524 6561
Number GBP: PL02 1240 6003 1789 0010 8524 6965
For Polish donors:
Darowizna na pomoc dzieciom:
numer konta: 37 2130 0004 2001 0299 9993 0002
tytuł przelewu: pomoc dzieciom z Ukrainy darowizna
We will be extremely grateful for your support ❤