We have been sponsoring Cure Through Art summer camp in Ukraine, which hosted over 300 war-traumatized children and orphans for the past two years. The program was launched in 2015 and led by psychologists from a local organization RaDity to empower children to overcome the emotional and psychological barriers they face as a result of war. The program can be implemented in any community that faces similar challenges.
Children’s art from the program has been exhibited at the United Nations HQ and Ukrainian Institute of Americas in New York City.
In the summer of 2015, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, a small village Nedilna welcomed war-displaced and orphaned children from different parts of Ukraine. Traumatized by the ongoing armed conflict, they found a safe haven at a camp organized and led by psychologists.
Originating from a week-long art project, the “bodies” capture some of the most critical moments that children affected by war had experienced. Each “body” reflects a child’s individual journey of self-discovery and perception of the outer world.
It starts with a blank canvas, a symbol of a new beginning. Children lay down on the canvas and outline their bodies with a pencil. Ephemeral nature of a pencil mark signifies safety and security to the children who live in constant fear. As the environment becomes familiar and comfortable, children select colors to paint and, accompanied by live music, gradually bring their “bodies” to life.
The “bodies” experience allowed young “artists” to come face to face with themselves, their thoughts and traumas. Many of the “bodies” are missing faces, indicating a child’s vulnerability and resistance to expressing feelings. An absence of feet conveys the uncertainty these children feel in the present. The colors reflect their mood. The journey of creating “bodies” enabled war-displaced children to immerse into their inner world, reflect on it, and, breaking multiple barriers, find their own place in the world around them.
“Tila” in Ukranian means “bodies.”
In the summer of 2016, a village of Nedilna continued to host children of war. This time the journey of reflection begins with eyes. Accompanied by Tibetan sounds and scent of fresh flowers, children close their eyes and imagine touching their souls. When the time comes to open the eyes, the children’s sight is still focused on their inner world, revealing the core of their being. Psychologists photograph the children’s most genuine expressions. Children, moved by the images, paint their eyes on glass.
Each “eye box” speaks about the importance of pausing to look inward and observe the world outside through the lens of one’s perceptions. The inside of the box is the image of a child. It represents the essence, the reality. The front of the box are the painted “eyes.” They express the child’s vision of the future, founded on experiences of the past and veracity of the present. The circuit diagram on the back of the box represents a network of people. These connections are necessary to help children of war to better understand themselves, to release the fears that the past engraved in their hearts and minds, to heal and believe in a better tomorrow by breaking barriers they face today.
“Ochi” in Ukrainian means “eyes.”
Every time you buy products from C.T.A collection, you are helping war-traumatized children to overcome challenges they face. You are investing in a better tomorrow for kids from the conflict zones. Send a post-card or wear a t-shirt and support our work!