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Stories from the field

Six months volunteering experience in Donbass, Eastern Ukraine

Karolina Buszko in Ukraine
MTÜ Mondo
About the Project
The purpose of the project was to provide psycho-social support to persons affected by the conflict in the Donbass region. The main target groups were: teenagers, adults, psychologists, social workers and law enforcement officers. The aim was to deliver training and seminars on stress management, resilience building, non-violent communication, and provide individual sessions (supervised), also the work focused on the subjects of anxiety, depression and suicide prevention, and facilitation of group activities with the use of art-therapy techniques.

Being deployed to Ukraine was many things "first time" for me. I did not know what will be expecting me, and was sure I wanted to develop myself professionally and personally and of all I wanted to use the acquired knowledge and skills to work with the beneficiaries and help the local community.

One of the requests of the hosting organization was to prepare training materials on the topics of stress management and non-violent communication.

Professionally I am art-therapist and did not give trainings on those topics specifically, yet it started a new chapter for me. It was challenging at times. I learnt to adapt and readjust the group sessions. In group work, and for me personally, it is very important to connect with the people and give them the content that is adapted to the local context. In many countries, and including Ukraine, the topic of mental health is surrounded by a lot of stigma. It is changing slowly, and I felt people more and more open to discuss it. There was a lot of interest in the trainings, I lead groups in our offices and in the centre of employment. Later a new program for the law enforcement officers on stress management, resilience building and suicide prevention was created.  

Before I came to Ukraine I was wondering, how I will handle the stories of people affected by the ongoing conflict, how will they affect and change me. During the deployment and after I feel I learnt so much, from the people I worked with, from the team members, from new friends I made, and that I now miss. It was so unbelievably valuable and powerful experience. I learnt a lot about myself too, and like to believe I became a better person.

Working as an EU Aid Volunteer was an opportunity I would not change and definitely do it again.

Working as an EU Aid Volunteer was an opportunity I would not change and definitely do it again.