Reflections on the year; the conference "Psychological and legal assistance for war victims: A year of experience following the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation into Ukraine and modern challenges"

In a year full of loss, every win, big or small, was incredibly important.
Over the weekend of February 17th-18th, Human Rights Vector held a 2-day online conference on psychological and legal assistance for war victims, bringing together a group of NGOs from many countries to reflect on the past year working in the context of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine.
The conference brought together a group of psychologists, psychotherapists, medical workers, lawyers, mediators, helpline workers, social workers, representatives of Ukrainian and foreign non-governmental organizations, state authorities, local governments, donor organizations, and clients of the helplines and other projects providing psychological and legal assistance.
“I was honored to be a part of this conference. This event is exactly the kind of thing that I had hoped and prayed for in Ukraine. The collaborative nature and culture that this group demonstrated is at the heart of effective recovery of infrastructure and people's lives in Ukraine. Many shared their experiences and I look forward to everything else we can learn together moving forward.”Dr. Joshua Kreimeyer, Ph.D., Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (USA).
It was an opportunity for people in these fields to learn about the work being done by others, and to assess how to most effectively collaborate moving forward. The group shared their experiences working in different fields and geographic regions, discussing their successes and challenges over the last year.
«This conference showed the synergy built into our processes. We turned out to be not only a collection of teams and specialists who actively help in the joint struggle for freedom, we are an effective part that strengthens stability in this struggle. We are a powerful force, a wave that pushes the processes of further recovery and development.
If we talk about the strategic goals of the event, I would single out one of them as the prevention of social trauma. This contributes both to protection against ruptures of the social and mental „fabric“ and will become the basis for post-traumatic development.
I had the honor of being an active part of these processes as part of the team of the NGO „Vector of Human Rights“. I will be happy for further cooperation because there is still a lot of work ahead » -Iryna Ratzke, psychoanalyst, supervisor, Head of the Section of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Couples and Families of Association of Psychologists and Psychotherapists of Ukraine, a delegate of the EFRR, a full member of the GASI, EFPP.
Almost at the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine, reflecting on successes is important for holding on to the motivation to continue important aid work. As Natalia Marchuk, Head of the Department of Ensuring Access to Legal Aid of the Coordinating Center for the Provision of Legal Aid noted, every time they were able to help one person it felt like a success, and gave her team more motivation to continue. It is the little wins that build up to big successes.
“I think conferences like this are important because they give a chance for professionals to exchange knowledge and practices with each other and therefore make our practice more robust. I was personally touched and very excited to participate in this conference. Me and my colleague were invited to it by one of my supervisees and it touches my heart to understand and see that my work is being recognized and valued. The fact that somebody who knows me thought that I should participate in this conference and share my own experience in helping those affected by war with other professionals made me feel appreciated and made me believe that what I am doing is needed and necessary.”Anastasiia Iun, Ph.D. Candidate in school Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston (USA).
“We have experienced so many feelings and events that we could be discussing them throughout our whole lives, and what is there to say about the consequences that we have to deal with… Yet, at the same time, we still have a lot ahead of us”, said Valeriia Rybak, organizer of the event and director of the Human Rights Vector NGO, during the event. Human Rights Vector, like many other Ukrainian organizations, quickly reformatted their work following February 24th.
There is often overlap in the kind of aid being provided by different organizations and initiatives, but each may have certain specialties and experiences. Valeriia Rybak organized this conference to see the bigger picture, with the hope that these different organizations can get to know each other better, learn from each other’s experiences, and see room for cooperation moving forward, both before and after victory.
«I am extremely glad that the conference took place. It allowed me to see the work of others and my own with a new perspective and to be inspired by new ideas. It is important that during the event we discussed the challenges and needs of our professional communities. So right now, I and the Human Rights Vector team are planning a number of activities for the specialists of the aid projects to increase their resilience and capacity.”Valeriia Rybak, director of Human Rights Vector NGO.
“These two days were a synergy of the experience of various specialists from different places and countries, which is valuable both for those who help refugees and for the refugees themselves, as it orients who exactly can be turned to. The discussion confirmed that the representatives helping the organizations also need constant support and supervision themselves. I thank the organizers for such a meeting and hope for continued cooperation!”Olena Zimnytska, lawyer, mediator, co-founder of NGO „Mediation and Dialogue Agency of Chernivtsi region“ and NGO „Open Bulgaria“.
The conference was live-translated from Ukrainian to English. Watch the English version here:
This conference was organized by the Human Rights Vector NGO within the framework of the project “Psychological and legal assistance to respond to and mitigate the impact of the war in Ukraine”. The project benefits from support through the EaP Civil Society Forum Re-granting Scheme (FSTP) for members, and is funded by the European Union as part of its support to civil society in the region. Within its Re-granting Scheme, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) supports the projects of its members that contribute to achieving the mission and objectives of the Forum. Grants are available for CSOs from the Eastern Partnership and EU countries. Key areas of support are democracy and human rights, economic integration, environment and energy, contact between people, and social and labor policies.
The author of the article: Benjamin  Murdoch

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