AN airstrike, bombs, guns and grenades are depicted in a 10-year-old Ukrainian refugee’s drawing, which revolves around two people crying with their hearts broken.
Seven months after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, thousands have died, families are scattered across the world and the survivors are left to pick up the pieces.
The little boy who drew the picture is in an Italian refugee camp, but his father is still fighting the Russians in Ukraine.
dr David Schonfeld, the director of the National Center for School Crisis at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told The US Sun that the two people in the drawing are likely the boy and his crying mother.
It shows the boy is grieving and aware his mother is hurt, said Dr. Shonfeld, who leads a trauma team that goes to Ukrainian refugee camps
Art therapy was part of the help that Italians provided for children, said the renowned expert.
He noted that this drawing does not show an adult man, which he has often seen when visiting Ukrainian refugee centers.
“That’s probably because many children have been separated from adult male family members,” said Dr. Shonfeld. “This picture could represent shared hardship and grief and her heart is still in Ukraine or with his father in Ukraine.
“They have lost their sense of security and are worried about their loved ones.”
THE CHILDREN AND ADULTS NEED MORE HELP
The Moodsters Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit that works on emotional competence and resilience in young children, has shared more drawings of Ukrainian children in refugee centers with The US Sun.
Denise Daniels, a child development and psychology expert who heads the nonprofit, said Ukrainian children don’t get the help they need when the school year starts.
“Currently, Ukrainian children go to schools where classes are taught in a foreign language while still suffering the unspeakable atrocities of war,” Daniels said.
“While memory-haunted children experience trauma, grief and heartbreaking loss, the critical grief services and caregivers they need are largely unavailable or inadequate, and local psychiatrists are few and far between.”
The lack of emotional support, according to Dr. Shonfeld also the adults.
He said it’s better to be in a refugee center in Italy that uses abandoned hotels to house war-fleeing Ukrainians than to be in a war-torn country, but there aren’t enough emotional support resources for the mothers and carers .
“I worry about the adults in these refugee centers,” said Dr. Shonfeld.
“The mothers and carers are more aware than the children and worried about their husbands, brothers, fathers who are still in Ukraine.”
He visited families after Hurricane Katrina separated them and forced them into refugee shelters.
Shonfeld said depression took hold of adults, and he saw rampant drug use and overdoses, suicides and domestic violence.
“They (adult Ukrainian refugees) need more support to create a better future for them and their children,” he added.
FEAR FOR LIFE
What the children of Ukraine went through could affect them forever, Daniels said.
“Children who have experienced hiding in bomb shelters, basements and burned-out buildings suffer not only the physical wounds of war, but also the emotional and psychological wounds that are often invisible,” she said.
“There are short-term and long-term effects of war. Children at risk can experience devastating consequences through traumatic grief.
“Death, destruction, separation from parents, and living with the disruption in their lives can prolong grief.
“It can affect children’s physical, social and emotional health,
reduced school performance and their behavioral development.”
dr Shonfeld said he listened to a refugee’s story about a bomb blast during a birthday party.
They sang Happy Birthday and were about to cut the cake when they heard the planes, he said. They thought they had a few minutes to finish the song before escaping to the bomb shelter.
But they didn’t. A bomb hit the building, killing and injuring dozens.
Daniels said that these traumas can also manifest in physical ways.
“Children can suffer from physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches,” she said.
“They may have trouble sleeping, nightmares, loss of appetite, and emotional numbness to block the pain.
“Young children may experience regressive behaviors such as clinging, bed-wetting, or thumb-sucking. Depression can occur
children from three years.
“Without early intervention, their road to recovery can take a lifetime, depending on the support they receive from their caregivers.
“It is therefore crucial that we allocate resources to grief and loss
Mothers and trauma training for the teachers and mental health professionals who are so few and far between.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6280632/ukraine-war-seven-months-later/ Heartbreaking drawing by a Ukrainian refugee child shows the devastating effects of the war that marks 7 months since the Russian invasion