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To ease emotional state and support loved ones

Story: Illia Uhnivenko

Illustration: #OlegGryshchenko


War takes a great toll on the mental health of people. According to statistics, every fifth person suffers negative psychological effects after armed conflicts and every tenth person suffers from mental illness.

Ukrainians have been initiating numerous psychosocial support programs, and psychologists and psychotherapists have been assisting war victims on a volunteer basis. However, you don’t need specialized training to support loved ones emotionally. The artist Illia is an example of this. 

On the fourth day of the full-scale war, a friend asked Illia to record something funny because he felt depressed: he came to his parents, and next to the house, there were burned cars belonging to saboteurs. When he received this request, Illia wasn’t in a good mood, too, but decided to be distracted and remembered that he liked to read aloud. So, he did an audio recording of a short fairy tale. It helped the friend, so the artist sent the recording to several more friends. So he had a circle of listeners waiting for new audio fairy tales. These were people who lived outside of Ukraine but were worried about their relatives and were having difficulties dealing with the stress and anxiety.

Every evening, Illia sat down to record fairy tales in order to have time to send a new batch of stories to his friends before bedtime. He chose stories from different parts of the world: an Afghan tale about Shaitan and the nature of evil; an Australian one about why pigeons always stick together in flocks; a Chinese parable about whether you need to know how to kill dragons (spoiler, no you don’t); as well as other Armenian, Indonesian, Turkmen, Taoist and Ukrainian fairy tales.

A few weeks passed, and people's psyche had somewhat adapted to the new realities of this large-scale war. Everyone began to devote more time to personal affairs, work, and volunteering, and they listened to fairy tales less. Then Illia realized that with his initiative, he had achieved the main goal—to support his friends—and decided to end the project.


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