Psychological Support for Ukrainian Refugees at the Siret Border and CATTIA center in Brasov
AMURTEL Romania provided immediate capacity building for organizations at the Siret border with Ukraine right from the outset of the war, thanks to rapid and generous funding from CARE-SERA-FONPC. The organization also directly offered psychological support to 1137 refugees.
First Psychological First Aid Trainings Offered at the Siret Border
In the first weeks after the war, AMURTEL equipped emergency responders, NGO staff, and volunteers who were present at the border with the first training in Psychological First Aid (PFA) and self-care. The project aimed to shift attitudes in the emergency response towards a greater sensitivity to the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs of refugees arriving in Romania due to the war. Altogether, AMURTEL Romania trained 263 first responders, NGO staff, and volunteers in PFA and self-care, which surpassed the original target of 200 people. The organization also organized eight sessions of PFA and self-care at the border and one in Brasov at the CATTIA center. Four skill exchanges were organized at the border, with DGASPC, MEDU, Good Neighbours, and then one in July with all organizations involved in the response to pass on the good practices that Melinda had developed in her months providing direct services at the border..
Providing Emergency Psychological Support to 1137 Refugees in Siret and Brasov
AMURTEL Romania provided direct MHPSS support to 1137 refugees in total, of which 655 Ukrainian refugees received Emergency Psychology support at the Siret Border within the first 72 hours of their arrival in Romania, surpassing the initial planned target of 600 people. From July-December 2022, an additional 482 Ukrainian refugees received MHPSS support in Brasov, surpassing the initial target of 200 refugees by more than double. AMURTEL Romania also organized three workshops for CATTIA volunteers on improving communication and conflict resolution in work with refugees. The organization also strongly advocated for self-care amongst the workers and volunteers involved in the refugee response, to proactively protect them from burnout. It organized nine self-care art therapy group sessions at the border as well as eight individual art-therapy self-care sessions for first responders, volunteers, and NGOs involved in the border response. Furthermore, 19 therapeutic arts and crafts group sessions for children were organized in CATTIA, and five similar group sessions for adults. AMURTEL Romania ensured that the MHPSS needs of refugees were being adequately met, and Melinda trained an MHPSS worker to provide PFA and basic counseling to the CATTIA center. As the vast majority of refugees were women, AMURTEL selected women to provide PFA who would be able to establish rapport quickly, and especially in CATTIA, they emphasized finding a Russian/Ukrainian speaker so that translation would not be needed.
Publishing Three Therapeutic Story Books for Ukrainians Fleeing the War
AMURTEL Romania’s president Didi Deshaies, together with author Susan Perrow created three books of therapeutic stories and coloring books that aimed to provide therapeutic metaphors to assist refugee parents and children in reconstructing meaning and hope after the losses of displacement. These books received 28.8 K visualisations as PDFs on AMURTEL’s telegram channel, and there were 132 downloads of a zip file containing all Ukrainian, English, and Russian versions of the three books on the landing page made for the project: therapeutic-stories.amurtel.ro In addition, seven organizations ordered a total of 734 printed books.
In conclusion, AMURTEL Romania’s project successfully provided MHPSS support to refugees arriving in Romania due to the war. The organization surpassed its initial targets for providing support to refugees and training first responders, NGO staff, and volunteers in PFA and self-care. Additionally, AMURTEL Romania created three books of therapeutic stories/coloring books that aimed to provide therapeutic metaphors to assist refugee parents and children in reconstructing meaning and hope after the losses of displacement. The organization’s efforts helped to ensure that refugees received a warm, welcoming response that stabilized some of their initial needs enough to make sound decisions.