Haunted by nightmares

6 Mar, 2022: The ongoing war in Ukraine will affect its children and their families for generations, as Natalie Vikhrov reports. It will leave many haunted by nightmares and affect their mental and physical health throughout their lives. Such is the nature of childhood trauma.

13-year-old Polina was once a cheerful and positive girl. “Now, she creates nightmarish figures out of plasticine,” her mother says. She is haunted by nightmares.

For this family, this is just one of the results of bombing back in 2015. One doesn’t need psychologists to tell us that the trauma for Polina and thousands of Ukrainian children from the current crisis will be lifelong. And inter-generational.

“I dream that we are being led somewhere and then they shoot us one by one,” Polina said. “It’s unpleasant but I always wake up.”

Polina, aged 13

For Lyubov Pavlenko and her son, Bogdan, heading west across Ukraine, the choice to stay or go is not an easy one. 

She fears they won’t make it to the western city of Lviv.

“We want to live. We really want to live,” she said. “We want to raise our children and see smiles on their faces, not tears.”