| Jun 29, 2023
Ukraine Emergency: Hope For Future - Final Report
Ukraine Emergency: Hope For Future – Final Report June 2023
Faced with the dramatic acts of war that are affecting Ukraine, Italy has welcomed over 175,000 refugees of which 42,000 are children. Parents, children, and teenagers often arrive to our shores after experiencing traumatic experiences such as leaving behind their homes, their families, and above all the war. Refugee families may feel relieved when they are welcomed in Italy, however their troubles and tribulations do not end at arrival. Once placed into the local community, refugees often face numerous difficulties that can further test the resilience process.
Refugee families often carry on their shoulders the traumatic stress of having lived through the war and the migration process that threatened or damaged their emotional and physical well-being. In addition to the stress of resettlement, these children and their families can experience severe isolation caused by being part of a minority in their host country. Finally, the stress due to the acculturation process can persist for a long time as newcomers try to adapt to the new culture and, at the same time, maintain the one of origin.
For this reason, a support network was immediately activated in the Padua area of Italy through which psychological support meetings were proposed with the aim of responding to the main needs encountered by parents, children and young people thus creating a psycho-educational base as a useful tool to facilitate the adaptation process. In total 40 families were identified.
The activities proposed during 2022-23 were the result of:
- An initial first project to welcome children and young people in schools through which an accurate needs analysis was carried out also by organizing a first series of meetings (April May 2022)
- A pilot support phase at some communities hosting refugee families (June-August 2022) to monitor needs, create social support networks among children in their local territory, offer an initial network of psychological support.
- In the Padua Region, in conjunction with local entities (schools, municipality, prefecture) a survey was developed to draw a realistic picture of the refugee families currently hosted in the territory, and the identification of their primary needs.
Phase 2 of this project started in January 2023 and ended in June 2023. Following the first six meetings, activities were resumed in January after the Christmas break, however, it soon became apparent that many things had changed. As anticipated by the families already in early December, there was a general desire on the part of all to move and find better accommodation or return home. Parallel to several families leaving, 3 children and 2 teenagers arrived in the Padua region schools thus we activated a new cycle of meetings open to both those who stayed and had started at the beginning of the school year and the newcomers. A small party was organized, and an event was included in the Carnival celebrations. It was a simple moment of aggregation involving the entire school. As a result of this, several local families expressed their desire to participate in meetings to facilitate the process of integration of refugee children within their neighborhoods. A new cycle of meetings was thus activated starting on March 10th always on a Friday from 16:00 to 18:00. The meetings’ primary purpose was psycho-educational promoting the creation of positive social networks among families. The activities always included playful and convivial moments, as well as providing an opportunity for exchanging information, or discussing topics that could be of general or specific interests and needs.
Overall, the balance of the year’s activity is positive and are pleased with the results and feel we had a positive impact on the life of the families we aided. Along the way we adapted the initial intent of the project after it became clear that the favored approach was towards providing short term support and aid to immediate needs and difficulties rather than long term integration, as most of the refugees saw their status as temporary in hope of returning to their home.