After Georgia-Russia war in 2008, thousands of children suffer from stress. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a result of strong emotions they experienced during the war.
By Sopo Mgaloblishvili and Mariam Jachvadze
“If you had a magic stick what would you wish?”
This question was asked to IDP children from Eredvi by Tina Norakidze and other psychologists who held trainings for children in 2009.
Most of them named big house surrounded by huge fence and lots of bodyguards. Fear of future and feeling of insecurity also appeared in other exercises. For instance they had to describe the feelings of swan swimming in the lake. All children had question – “Where is it going? How it will be there? Maybe some threat is waiting for it”.
“These examples show that these children need secure environment and stability in the future” – says Tina Norakidze, psychologist
„ I only see my house in my dreams, exactly the same as I left it. I don’t want to believe that there is nothing there”; “Most I remember is my mother’s voice crying – “Everyone hide in the basement”; “I strongly miss every single thing what I left in my village.”
These are the memories of schoolchildren from the war 2008. What they saw and what they heard had strong influence on their behavior. Far from their villages they started new life with new relations. Parents are also stressed after war, but the children are the ones who are mostly in the center of attention. Government, non-governmental organizations as well as society care about them, trying them not to think deeply about the war results.
“After Georgian-Russian war, IDP children were taken to the seaside. You can’t imagine how aggressive they were. Everything was broken and damaged in the hotel”– remembers Merab Oniani, art therapist who together with psychologists accompanied team of children at the seaside, Ureki (West part of Georgia).
Aggression, nightmares, myth plays, no willing to learn, drawings in dark colors, repetitive play are main symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children coming from the war, natural disasters, serious accidents or injuries.
According to Merab Oniani’s observation on IDP children the way they were playing was most recognizable for him. In playing children repeat the same situations what they had seen before –
“Often we saw, how children were burying each other in the sand, playing with guns, shouting and fighting with each other.”
Ana Jgenti, psychologist of children together with her friend was working with IDP children as well. She tells us what kinds of methods are used to help children who suffer from PTSD. One of them is reframing nightmares.
“We used to meet them every day and on each day we asked them to tell their dreams. Mostly dreams were connected to the war so the task was to draw these dreams in a way that the ending would be happy. I can say that this method really works”.
Anna says that IDPs have different emotional experience; some of them worry about losing close people, some about their houses, but children she met mostly worried about pets they lost during the war.
In psychology these symptoms have its explanation: “For children house is a part of their identity. Pets help them to give and get warm, that’s why children have such emotions about losing them” – says Manana Gabashvili psychologist.
Sopo Tabatadze 15 years old believes to be good diplomat in near future. She thinks that, she already knows the value of war and peace and will do her best for peace – “I don’t wish other children to feel the same I experienced”.
Practice show that after some years past post traumatic symptoms decrease, people try to overcome the stress and step by step they adapt to new social environment.