Soleterre began its intervention in Poland at the end of March 2022, just one month after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Now that one year has passed, our team of Italian and Ukrainian psychologists at Soleterre have organized more than 13,500 consultations for over 3,500 individuals.
Initially, Soleterre deployed a team to assist with refugees throughout the Podkarpackie and Lubelskie regions of Poland. The goal was to offer psychological and social support to the waves of Ukrainian refugees crossing the border to safety. Soleterre has been recognized as the sole reference point prioritizing mental health among assistance programs in the area. The team originally consisted of six Ukrainian psychologists and one cultural mediator to bridge the gap between teams working in Ukraine, in Italy, and amongst local partners in Poland. Working with mobile resources and online programs, the team was able to harness this hybrid style to expand their outreach and increase their overall impact on a wider range of communities.
With offices in Przemysl and Rzeszow, Soleterre offers free counseling programs for those in the general vicinity and encourages people to seek psychological support during their transition. The offices also act as a safe space for individuals to come and converse with others, share their stories and, for a brief moment, lift their spirits and lighten the weight of the trauma they are facing. This kind of communal therapy is tantamount for those who do not yet feel ready to engage in a more formal session but nonetheless are looking for some reprieve. Our therapy sessions are also flexible, incorporating both individual sessions and group activities depending on the need.
Through these headquarters, our team is able to establish relationships with local partners in Poland, especially among refugee shelters in the area, instilling a sense of continuity and trust. Since we are registered in Poland as a national non-profit organization, Soleterre partners with 15 local Polish and international organizations, including contacts in Italy and Ukraine. With these solid relationships in place, our team is able to transit from accommodation centers, transit centers, private houses, hospitals and private clinics, so that Soleterre can make a greater impact in the region. To achieve this mobility, Soleterre deploys 2 mobile units focusing on patients discharged from hospitals or other facilities, to provide support across 45 points of intervention.
Soleterre’s psychologists are not only engaging in-person with individuals throughout the regions of Podkarpackie and Lubelskie, but also across the country with the help of online resources. These online counseling sessions are key for our team to be able to reach those living in more remote areas. With this hybrid network in place, Soleterre firstly supports pre-established local efforts in addition to spearheading independent projects. Through these relationships, Soleterre is able to learn about children who are in particularly vulnerable situations and need specialized medical or psychological support. We can then organize for individualize assistance for their families and respond to their needs without delay.
As the war rages on in Ukraine, we are working to support local efforts and build international networks dedicated to helping those in need. We thank you for your continued generosity to our cause and we look forward to what the future holds. With your help, Soleterre is working to give support to children with cancer, everywhere.
Since the start of the war in February 2022, Soleterre has supported 14 hospitals in Ukraine aiding a total of 647 individuals to receive the care they need. In one year, Soleterre’s medical staff has also conducted 970 rehabilitation sessions for 60 children at our partner facilities throughout the region. To date, Soleterre has reached 5,945 individuals across 20 distribution centers and conducted 356 psychological and social support sessions for individuals living in the areas of Kyiv, Poltava and Cherkasy alone.
Outside of Ukraine, Soleterre officially registered its field operations in Poland as an external branch of the organization in December 2022. As of January 2023, Soleterre is officially active in 40-45 sites in Podcarpacje, the region with the highest registered Ukrainian refugee population. In that time, Soleterre has assisted nearly 3,300 persons, including Ukrainian refugees and international support staff, and conducted 13,500 therapy sessions in Poland.
Our strategy has been to support existing pediatric wards in Ukraine; provide physical therapy, rehabilitation and psychological support for a population traumatized by war; offer shelter for families in need; and assist refugees, displaced persons and communities to build hope for the future. As of January 2023, Soleterre has 4 staff members active in Ukraine making our mission a reality.
1. Support for existing pediatric services in Ukraine
Soleterre continues its collaboration with 5 main medical facilities in Ukraine: the National Cancer Institute of Kyiv, the Neurosurgery Institute of Kyiv, Kyiv City Children’s Clinical Hospital; Western Ukrainian Children’s Medical Center in Lviv; Saint Nicholas Hospital in Lviv.
In this collaboration, we are dedicated to:
2. Expand resources for physical therapy, rehabilitation and psychological support
Soleterre has coordinated a network of psychological support services composed of 40 psychologists and psychiatrists, dedicated to addressing the needs of individuals coming from all over Ukraine. Over the course of one year, this network has reached 3,437 Ukrainians throughout the country including:
3. Offer shelter and stability
4. Address the needs of refugees, displaced persons and communities.
The arrival of winter and freezing cold temperatures in Ukraine are escalating the already precarious situation for these vulnerable communities. With help from the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development, Soleterre is working on a new project to provide emergency response services this winter to address the cold and immediate needs of those living in the areas of Kiev, Poltava and Cherkasy.
As of today, our project supports 6 local health centers providing access to medicines, supplies and psychological first aid for health workers. We also administer the following services directly to those in need:
In Poland, Soleterre is recognized as one of the only reference points for administered mental health and psycho-social services paying special attention to the growing refugee population. Starting with 2 mobile units catering to facilities around the region, our Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support team is now composed of 7 Ukrainian psychologists and a cultural mediator who are busy assisting refugee centers, train stations, shelters, psychiatric clinics, child services and Rzeszow Hospital’s pediatric oncology ward.
This year, Soleterre will continue providing psychological support to those in need, focusing on women, minors, and members of particularly vulnerable groups in need of protection from social ills such as addiction, psychological disorders and gender-based violence. Soleterre plans to open another “Casa” offering protection and stability to those vulnerable persons suffering from psychological disorders, specifically targeting those that are unable to access medications or often turned away and mislabeled as “dangerous.”
Eventually, we hope to develop our mobile units into a more stable, permanent center providing psychological aid to the region. While there are currently offices in Przemysl and Rzeszow equipped with spaces for individual therapy sessions, we plan to expand these services to Gdansk, Krakow, Wroclaw and Katowice in the future.
We would like to thank you for your support and hope you will continue to help us bring hope to Ukrainian families.
After 6 months since the beginning of the war, Soleterre is working in 3 countries (Ukraine, Poland, Italy), involving a total of 30 people (20 in Italy and 10 expats) plus a team of 45 psychologists.
Since the beginning of the war, the challenge was to find a shelter for children with cancer and their families in Kyiv, while ensuring continuity in medical care and providing for the evacuation of cancer patients able to move to either the eastern border of Ukraine or Italy in our facilities.
In total, the airlift project has carried out 20 medical evacuation flights bringing about 80 cancer and war-wounded patients from Ukraine to Italy (Via Poland, Rzeszow airport).
Now hospitals are reopening. At present there 11 hospitals with whom we collaborate and which we help in the daily management of emergencies: in particular, regarding the continuity in medical care, especially for those children under chemotherapy treatment, good news came from the National Cancer Institute in Kyiv that was able to restart its activities at the end of May: the structure, in fact, is returning slowly to its pre-war reception capacity, with at the moment 30 children who are hospitalized and followed by two of our psychologists and a physiotherapist.
In Lviv, instead, at the Saint Nicholas Hospital a new onco-hematology department was opened to continue the treatment for cancer to those patients of southern Ukraine forced to leave their homes, while, always in Lviv, in the Regional Pediatric Hospital two transplant were executed with success.
In Poland, our team of 4 Ukrainian psychologists and 1 cultural mediatorhas assisted more than 600 people within the TESCO center (Polish-Ukrainian border) and over 100 in other locations. Since the flows across the border have decreased from 2,000 to 150 people in transit every day, our intervention is focusing more and more on those refugees who decide to remain in Poland, in ensuring any needed medical evacuations for cancer patients and in creating the conditions for a peaceful coexistence between Ukrainians and Poles.
In Italy, we are providing medical care, hospitality and psychological support to 25 Ukrainian families with cancer cases, thanks to the collaboration with the San Matteo hospital and through our facilities, located near the hospital and consisting of 10 apartments with two common areas.
We have also taken action to guarantee housing solutions and economic / social support to another 5 Ukrainian families with cancer minors between Monza, Genoa, Milan.
Finally, in order to achieve a long-term impact, we are preparing the opening of a real reception center (CAS) on which the prefecture will be able to count 30 people with particular attention to cancer patients, as well as, a reception project in the Lazio region for Ukrainian refugees will be implemented.
While pushing for all these activities to be implemented, new challenges are arising. The story of Oleg is emblematic.
Oleg and his younger brothers lost their house in Donbass and their mom due to cancer along the way to the western regions of Ukraine. After being welcomed by the community of Novoyarychiv near Lviv in a temporary house they were forced, due to the return of the owner, to take refuge at the city council, waiting for a better solution.
For people like Oleg Soleterre is transforming an old abandoned hostel into a community complex with 30 small apartments, each equipped with a kitchenette and able to host families of 3-4 members. This is the new priority: providing a new home in Ukraine for the displaced people of Donbass.
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from the beginning of the war, Soleterre has consistently and tirelessly been operating to keep saving children with cancer.
Thanks to your donations, continuity in cancer treatments has been ensured for the young pediatric patients remaining in Ukraine as unable to travel. On the other hand, medical evacuations have been set for patients who can be transported to Italy via Poland.
Psychological support, from diagnosis to clinical remission and aftermath, has also been enhanced through an international equipe of 50 psychologists. Such disorders as anxiety and depression can occur at any time when cancer is diagnosed and it is important to take action immediately, from the onset of the disease. This type of intervention relieves fatigue and stress, and contributes towards an improved quality of life.
Thanks to you, our efforts could truly be multiplied in Ukraine itself, as Soleterre has been dealing with the regular supply of health materials and medical equipment for hospitals. In a children’s facility in Lviv, surgical treatment of wounded children is guaranteed though a team of surgeons.
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Thank you sincerely, your contribution makes a great difference in what we can achieve!
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