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The “Hear the Children” project is a transformative initiative aimed at giving children the voice they deserve, especially in the context of the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine. In collaboration with Humanity in Action Bosnia and Herzegovina and Education for Equality and Ecology (Edeqec), as partners, and Art Center “Cublo”, as the lead organization, this project seeks to address the often-neglected thoughts and feelings of children, particularly during times of conflict. Our primary goal is to help children articulate their experiences, transforming trauma into resilience, adaptation, and growth.

Photo by Cublo

Project Concept

Children, whether displaced or in relatively safe areas, live in a disturbing and uncertain environment during war. Their lack of understanding can exacerbate their trauma. To address this, we developed a cross-disciplinary project combining trauma-focused therapy, storytelling, non-formal education, and art.

Our project targets displaced families and children, engaging them through various artistic mediums and therapeutic methods. By providing a safe space for expression, we aim to integrate children into new contexts, promote dialogue, and support mental health through cultural activities.

Key Activities and Outputs

Trauma Work Forum in Sarajevo: Practicing psychologists, scientists, cultural workers, specialists working with children with the purpose to analyze best practices, consolidate multifaceted experiences, and strengthen the team’s skills in working with children and families during wartime.

Storytelling Courses for Children:

  • Literature: Storytelling through writing.
  • Forum-Theater: Storytelling through acting.
  • Visual Art: Storytelling through drawing, sculpture, and object creation.
  • Audio Studios: Storytelling through radio and podcast recordings.
  • Psychologist Involvement: Ensuring emotional safety during sessions.

Public Lectures and Workshops for Parents and Educators, guiding them on how to talk to children about war, and for Professionals sharing methods developed during the project for working with children and families.

Community Engagement and Outreach:

  • Exhibition: Featuring stories and artworks created by the children, aimed at fostering integration and tolerance.
  • Online Workshop: Sharing work methods and experiences with partner organizations.

Expected Outcomes

  • Emotional Expression: Creating a safe space for displaced children to express their experiences.
  • Psychological Healing: Supporting the mental well-being and resilience of traumatized children.
  • Community Integration: Helping families and children engage with the local community.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Equipping parents, teachers, and professionals with tools to support children affected by war.

Photo by Cublo

Sarajevo Visit

A Deep Dive into Post-Conflict Healing

Our visit to Sarajevo was a pivotal part of the “Hear the Children” project. Organized by Humanity in Action BiH, this visit allowed us to engage with various institutions and individuals who have extensive experience in post-conflict healing and trauma-focused therapy.

War Childhood Museum

We started at the War Childhood Museum, where Amina Krvavac guided us through the heart-wrenching yet inspiring stories of children who grew up amidst war.

Ars Aevi Museum of Modern Art

Next, Enver Hadžiomerspahić, the founder of the Ars Aevi Museum, shared his vision of using art as a medium for healing and expression.

Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide 1992-1995

Our visit to this museum provided a sobering insight into the atrocities of the Yugoslav wars. Conversations with the museum director highlighted the importance of preserving these memories.

War Theater of SARTR

We had the privilege of meeting Maja Salkić, the director and actress of the War Theater of SARTR, and attending rehearsals. Maya’s work in using theater to address trauma was incredibly inspiring.

Peace Academy

Our deep conversation with Amela Puljek-Shank, a peacebuilding coach from the Peace Academy, provided invaluable insights into trauma-informed peacebuilding efforts.

Online Engagement

We also connected online with Aina Jusić from the Association of Forgotten Children of War and Velma Šarić from the Post-Conflict Research Center, enriching our understanding of ongoing post-conflict challenges and efforts.

Reflections and Gratitude

The Sarajevo visit was intense, moving, and deeply educational. We were constantly touched by the compassion and resilience of the people we met. Their willingness to share their experiences provided us with profound insights and a sense of solidarity. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Humanity in Action BiH and everyone who contributed to making this visit a success.

This project is supported by “Culture Helps / Культура допомагає” – a project co-funded by the EU Creative Europe Program and implemented by Insha Osvita (UA) and zusa (DE).

Project is implemented in partnership with: