Ukrainian military take art therapy in Hungary  


“Zigriy Dushu” project and the Embassy of Ukraine in Hungary organized a week of art therapy for ATO veterans in Hungary.

Kyiv, October 25, 2016. This October, ATO veterans, participants of the project “Zigriy Dushu” (“Warm the Soul”) went on their first trip abroad – to the Hungarian town of Hajdúszoboszló. ” The trip organizers present the idea of the trip, its significance for the military and further plans at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the framework of the project “Spokesperson of peaceful life” supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“Zigriy Dushu” project is art therapy and psychological support for the former soldiers who fought in Eastern Ukraine so-called “Anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone”.

“Zigriy Dushu” project has existed as a voluntary initiative since October 2014. The main idea of its founders is to help veterans self-actualize through art, rethink their unique experience and discover something new about them. Recently, the focus has been gradually shifting to social rehabilitation. “We do not aim to ‘cure’. We show a way to further development,” said Olena Snisarevska (Batynska), military psychologist.

According to Anna Lysakova, 350 servicemen have already participated in the program. The usual session lasts a week and a group consists of 20 people. The program consists of group activities and free time for communication.

The project participants’ trip to Hungary was initiated by Liubov Nepop, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary. The idea was inspired by the exhibition of works by the previous members of the project in Brussels. Organizers of “Zigriy Dushu” project included art therapy and psychological support in its program, informed Anna Lysakova.

Painting as a moral relaxation

According to Bogdan Morozov, such relaxation is very important for those who participated in combat operations. “Sometimes the guys who return home lose heart. It is quite simple at the front. There is an enemy and a friend. It is not all that simple in civilian life,” he explained. Bogdan said that veterans like the very approach – the fact that “you are in your team; we are all boys together here, and we can trust each other,” and the idea of art therapy. “Art therapy allows us to clear our minds of bad things and to relax morally.
Now Bogdan is a reserve sergeant, platoon commander at the Chair of Military Training at Lutsk Technical National University, and simultaneously he is finishing his studies at the law department.

A trip abroad as a new experience

A trip to Hungary has become to the volunteers and program participants a completely new experience. According to Olena Snisarevska, it is a “positive stress which inspires new ideas.” Liubov Nepop added that it is also a chance to understand how much Ukrainians and Europeans have in common.

Plan is to put up pictures painted by the military for auction

The organizers are planning an auction of pictures painted within this project and thus to draw attention to the project and its participants, and as a whole, to keep an eye on counteraction against Russian aggression. When we talk about international support, it is important that it should be sanctions, political pressure and practical assistance,” emphasized Liubov Nepop.

Next project

4 sessions in Ukraine and at least 2 abroad are planned for the next year. Volunteers turned to the diplomatic missions and businesses for help. Business representatives could share their experience in starting their own business.

More than 1,000 Ukrainian children and 26 military were rehabilitated in Hungary over 2 years.

Liubov Nepop noted that rehabilitation trips for Ukrainian children and ATO veterans to Hungary are organized on a regular basis. Last year, 650 children of ATO participants were there holidays; this year – 700. Last year 21 military visited Hungary; this year, four military have already returned, and two remain there. Hungary is ready for treatment of 20 our servicemen.

In the coming weeks the humanitarian aid will be sent from Hungary to eastern Ukraine.