Kyiv, December 11, 2015. Over this year French volunteer organization “Smile for Ukraine” has held individual psychological consultation sessions for over 650 Ukrainian servicemen, organized seminars for about 130 Ukrainian psychologists and volunteers as well as has traveled about 15 times to the areas at the contact line. “Together with the French organization ‘France-Ukraine Solidarity’ we have delivered almost 500 kg of clothes and toys to orphanages,” said Nicolas Tacussel, French volunteer, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “We are here to help everyone affected by the conflict, we seek to do our utmost to decrease traumatic consequences for them so that Ukraine gets back to normal life as soon as possible,” noted Tacussel.
Volunteers of “Smile for Ukraine” planned one more training session for psychologists who will continue working with ATO veterans. However, due to the lack of resources they were able to train only 40 out of 90 applicants. “It happened this way because we are travelling to the ATO zone, holding individual training sessions and working with orphans at the same time. Besides, I have a job in Paris that is actually a financial source for these activities in Ukraine,” explained Tacussel. He noted that it is still too early to summarize 2015 work results: another seminar starts in Kharkiv, the one for psychologists working with servicemen of various battalions nearby the contact line.
Volunteers plan to work in two main directions in 2016. First one includes training sessions for servicemen on self-control in stressful situations that will help prepare them psychologically to what they might come across at a battle field. “Delivering psychological training to servicemen prior their participation in combat actions brings better results. Human brain is designed in such a way that if it is ready for a stress that one may come across on the battlefield the stress will be smaller,” explained Tacussel. Second direction includes systematic work with orphans. Tacussel noted that these children especially the ones living in the frontline areas drastically need psychological assistance: “They already have numerous traumas – abandoned by parents or having lost their parents, some of who were killed defending Ukraine. And on top of that they actually live in the combat zone”. At the same time in the orphanage that the volunteers visited in ATO zone there was only one psychologist per 150 children. “When working with these children it is very important to appease and ‘calm’ them as majority of them absolutely don’t understand how this war has become possible. They are sometimes full of anger and hatred, it may transform into catastrophic consequences for Ukraine,” noted Tacussel. In the view of the situation “Smile for Ukraine” plans to train 10 psychologists who will later go to work to orphanages located in the ATO zone. Additionally 20 French and Ukrainian volunteers are preparing a brochure – a comic strip for children of school age in which they will try to explain what has happened in the country. Nicolas Tacussel emphasized that it is now extremely important to implant universal human values and love to their own country in the children, to teach them to look forward into the future after everything that has happened and that some of them have probably went through.
“’Smile for Ukraine’ is open for cooperation with both NGOs and various ministries and agencies interested in our projects,” noted Tacussel adding that volunteers can be reached through the organization’s website or by writing him personally on Facebook. “Although our projects are mostly designed for servicemen and children it would be nice to work with wider society to bring back people’s faith in the future and help overcome these complicated times. All who are helping Ukraine from abroad are doing it because they have faith in it. It is now important that Ukrainians have faith in themselves,” summarized Nicolas Tacussel.