Joining forces to combat the consequences of war-related trauma

KOLPING Ukraine and the Wings of Hope Foundation Germany have joined forces to train trauma specialists in Ukraine. In doing so, they are making an important contribution to civil society by caring for people who are suffering from the psychological effects of the war.

Violating international law, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has had a terrible impact on the country’s population, including psychological effects. The Ukrainian Ministry of Health estimates that almost half of Ukrainians will suffer from the psychological consequences of the war. More than 650,000 have already sought psychological or psychiatric help. However, there is currently a lack of trauma specialists in the country to meet the growing demand.

KOLPING Ukraine and the Wings of Hope Foundation Germany are responding to the lack of qualified trauma therapists with a training cooperation. In early November, they jointly launched a seminar in Lviv in western Ukraine to train 29 employees as trauma specialists over two years and in eight modules. This additional qualification is to enable the specialists from various social projects to create new psychosocial support services in their areas of work with refugees, children and young people, people with disabilities and senior citizens.



Vasyl Savka, managing director of KOLPING Ukraine experiences every day in his work how important this is for the population affected by the war. Since the beginning of the war, the Catholic social association has been an important player in providing aid to refugees in western Ukraine. With the support of KOLPING INTERNATIONAL, it offers refugees accommodation, food and, in some cases, psychosocial support at several locations. The association wants to improve and further expand this service by training its employees in trauma therapy. “ Our centers welcome people who were forced to leave everything behind, who endured days of fear in cellars, were shot at or witnessed terrible violence,” reports Vasyl Savka. “Many have also lost family members and friends. It’s not easy to come to terms with such experiences; you need professional support for that.”

This is confirmed by Julia Borchard from Wings of Hope, who is running the Kolping seminar in Lviv: “Working with traumatized people requires specialist knowledge of psychotraumatology,” explains the psychologist. “For this reason, the Wings of Hope Foundation has been training trauma specialists together with partner organizations from civil society for many years and providing them with long-term supervision.” Wings of Hope has already been successful in implementing its training programs in several conflict areas around the world, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kurdistan-Iraq and Palestine. Now, this expertise is to be made available in Ukraine also in close cooperation with KOLPING Ukraine. Trauma management is also important for society as a whole, emphasizes Julia Bochard: “Only when people have overcome and come to terms with their experiences of violence are they ready to live together peacefully again. Trauma work is therefore also always peace work.”