Ukraine: Working together to heal invisible wounds

The unimaginable day to day stress of life in a conflict zone, coupled with ongoing uncertainty about the future, is leaving countless people in Ukraine suffering from trauma. Children and young people are amongst the worst affected. The five modern branches of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem have joined forces to help some of these youngsters to come to terms with their experiences. Since its launch at the end of 2022, the project has already reached more than one thousand children.

Since mid-November, three mobile teams have been working in and around Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Beregova in western Ukraine, providing psychosocial support to displaced children and young people. The project is run by Malteser International and Johanniter International Assistance – the international aid services of the Order of Malta worldwide and of the Johanniterorden in Germany. The teams are staffed by the Ukraine Relief Service of the Order of Malta. Six vehicles were purchased and filled with materials for group games, creative activities, as well as therapeutic games and toys for young children to create the right environment for providing mental health support.

This project is important because it will help heal the invisible wounds that this war has left on hundreds of thousands of children and young people,

said H.E. Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, Grand Hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta – the member of the Order’s government responsible for charitable and social works. “I am very pleased to see all of us joining forces to fulfil our mission to help people in need. It is a sign of unity, which is needed now more than ever.”

The six vehicles will be on the road with the logos of the five organisations, all bearing the white eight-pointed cross. “This symbol is widely known as a sign of hope and safety for people in need. It stands for a vision of human dignity, especially in times and places of suffering,” said Christian Meyer-Landrut, a member of the Federal Board of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V.

The project, which will run until mid-2023, is funded by the German Association of the Sovereign Order of Malta, as well as the Order of Malta Austrian Relief Service; the Johanniter Orders in Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, as well as the Swiss Johanniter Relief Service; and the Order of St John.