According to a child psychologist working with the children affected by the floods in Krymsk, many of them started to talk about the floods without fear.
"It got easier talking with them about the flooding, but it did take some overcoming”, says Elena Lazareva, head of early intervention at the ‘Valeocentre’ in Tula.
Elena was among a group of psychologists managing the Children's Play Tent, established in Krymsk by The Naked Heart Foundation.
“In July, when we first arrived, many of the kids weren’t playing, and they were anxious or frightened. They found it difficult to communicate between themselves and to support each other. And when it first rained again after the floods in Krymsk, the fear was palpable: parents took their children out of the Play Tent and didn’t come back for several days. However by the end of August, when it rained, parents weren’t taking their children away anymore. And all the children made friends with each other. At the end of the Play Tent’s summer season, parents were coming in to say ‘thank you’”, recalls the psychologist.
The Play Tent for children affected by the floods in the Krasnodar region was set up shortly after the tragedy. The president of The Naked Heart Foundation, Natalia Vodianova, turned to Facebook to call for help from psychologists in the rehabilitation of the affected children. To coordinate their work, the Foundation involved experts from the ‘Valeocentre’, with which The Naked Heart Foundation has worked for several years.
The idea of the project was to help children escape through play, and for them to get expert psychological help. And for their parents this was an opportunity to rebuild and restore their homes, property and documents, whilst leaving their children in a safe and comfortable place under the supervision of child psychologists.
According to Anastasia Zalogina, Executive Director at The Naked Heart Foundation, “the project was created quite spontaneously, so to some extent you could call it an experiment. We firstly worked with a team of volunteers, focussing our activity in the emergency zone and raising money for the project in parallel with its implementation. However thanks to the fact that Natalia’s idea joined together creative, responsive, sincere people and sensitive professionals – it all worked out! We really bonded so much with the town of Krymsk and its little inhabitants…It was sad having to leave them.
During the six weeks that the Play Tent was in operation in the town square at Number 35, Karl Liebknecht Street, hundreds of children came to visit. On the 30th August, the closing day of the project’s summer season, Natalia Vodianova flew in to Krymsk.
“All of you who have gathered here today, you are very decent people, and that's why you're here”, Natalia announced, addressing everyone who had worked at the Play Tent.
Among them were school volunteers from Krymsk, who had made sure that the site was always in order. In return for their hard work, the Foundation decided to award them with a trip to Moscow. For all of the children, this trip will be their first.