Children's war stories

Working with clay helps Ukrainian children deal with traumatic experiences

A group of children playing with clay

Loud noises remind Misha, 6, of frightening artillery sounds in Ukraine. "Fear, he lives in my ears when I hear explosions. I'm very scared," he says.

Veronica, 7, silently clutches a stuffed bear at all times. She doesn’t remember where she came from. Her family escaped, leaving all their possessions behind.

As the crisis in Ukraine passes the one-year mark, we grieve with children whose lives have been forever changed because of war.

We also see hope in the creative ways Nevo, an MCC partner in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, is helping children process feelings of fear and unease through working with clay. 

instructor helping children with clay projects
“Children and adults have the opportunity to express their pain, and this happens through creativity … a conversation begins. They are happy to take a clay product home with them. They manage to create something new and beautiful among the devastation and flying missiles." - Nevo instructor
A young girl holding an animal made of clay
I’m making a cat, we had to leave the cat at home, I miss him a lot, but we couldn’t take him with us.”  - Ulya, 9
A young girl in a classroom
"The worst day of my life, when my father went to war, I came home and saw that my mother was crying. When I found out that dad was going to fight, I screamed and cried a lot. And recently dad called and says that his friend was captured.” - Alina, 7
A young boy rolling clay
Nazar, 7, and his mother, not pictured, left their home town during shelling. His mother says Nazar will only draw tanks with the Ukrainian flag and lays the pictures out on the floor around him. Now he is experiencing a different artistic outlet.
A young boy holding two clay animals
"I really miss my friends Nastya and Svyatik. My birthday is coming soon, but I can’t invite them. They are far away because of the war." - Andrey
Two children playing with clay
Kulesh, a Nevo psychologist, says art therapy and support help displaced people adapt to their new reality and give them courage to start a new life.
“It gives a feeling of strength and confidence that I can, I will succeed!"


Nevo psychologist

Note: Names of children and staff have been shortened or are unused for their security. All photos and quotes are courtesy of Nevo.