Four educators from Dror Israel flew to Warsaw to run a special training session last week for the camp's Polish and Ukrainian staff. They trained the staff on our unique pedagogical tools and methodology for operating day camps for children in traumatic situations. The camp for Ukrainian refugees, located in the outskirts of Warsaw in the PTAK Expo Center, is among Europe's largest.
Following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Dror Israel sent seven delegations of trained educators who operated the refugee camp’s three children’s day camps for nearly two months. In early May the Dror Israel delegation trained the Polish and Ukrainian staff who would continue to run the camp. Over the multiple day training course, our educators shared educational tools developed through our decades of experience running day camps for children in traumatic situations- including COVID-19, periods of rocket fire in Israel, and the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo in 1998.
Recently, our partners in Poland invited Dror Israel back to run another training session for new and continuing staff of the day camps. It was a wonderful chance to meet with our Polish partners who over the past few months have continued worked on one of the most difficult and challenging jobs, our shared mission - caring for Ukrainian children who have fled their homes.
Sonya, a Dror Israel educator from the training delegation recounts that “the Ukrainians on the staff are refugees themselves. When we talked with the staff about trauma, it opened a flood of emotions and personal stories, which weren’t all related to the conversation about the children. "
"Through talking about how to identify signs of trauma in the children, they began to identify the signs in themselves.
It might seem that there is something presumptuous in our attempt to address their trauma, because who am I to try to teach them? They are the ones who are now in the eye of the storm - after harrowing events and still facing an uncertain future. But I think that coming from the complex reality that we live each day in Israel, we have a unique perspective to know what we’re offering when we ask them to use the tools they already know: emotion, feeling, thought, hope.”
Sonya also noted that many routines and norms established months ago by Dror educators in the day camps have stayed in place. “To me, that’s know of our main goals- to create an educational framework which is can be sustained for as long as it needs to be. We worked to give the staff tools, banks of pre-planned activities, and most importantly- support and confidence.”