Father Dmytro
Father Dmytro. Image: Iryna Roik

I can put my worries aside for a while

Interview with war victim Dmytro Kovaliov

When the war in Ukraine started, Dmytro's life instantly changed. In May 2022, he lost his job and became a full-time stay-at-home father. Dmytro: “I excelled in making breakfast and changing nappies.”

Dmytro is a father of two young daughters, one of whom has special educational needs. The family is supported by an Early Intervention Centre in Odessa. Dmytro recently started receiving art therapy: “I can put my worries about the war aside for a while. In the meantime, the children are entertained - they have even more fun than I do. This is so important for our family. There are no other means of entertainment, nothing at all.”

Father Dmytro during art therapy
Father Dmytro during art therapy. Image: Iryna Roik

"You focus solely on how the paint spreads out on your canvas."

An hour to myself

Art therapy gives Dymtro and his wife a little time to themselves. Painting and reflecting with a therapist helps the parents put their feelings into words. The children are playfully encouraged to express their emotions too. Dmytro: “We no longer panic if there's a sudden power failure. We have learned to live without electricity or a phone. But these hours together as a family are invaluable. These are good memories.”

Daughters playing at the Early Intervention Centre
Daughters playing at the Early Intervention Centre. Image: Iryna Roik

Fear of loud noises

Dmytro: “Our main task is to minimise the effect of the war on the children. I know children in the neighbourhood who jump at every sound. Someone slamming a car door or a car honking its horn can terrify them. I want my daughters to have fond memories too. We are very grateful to the centre's caregivers for their continued help.”

ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre trains Ukrainian healthcare professionals in providing art therapy for families. ARQ is a guest participant with Giro555 (Emergency Appeals Alliance in the Netherlands) and collaborates with local partners such as Healthy Society.