He had already lost his community and his country – so things couldn’t get any worse for the tearful Ukrainian boy crossing the border to escape the war with Russia.
Until an enemy soldier spots the child’s tears, points a gun at the 12-year-old’s head and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t stop crying.
The terrifying scene unfolded in March as the youngster crossed the occupied Russian border with his mother, according to Brooklyn-based psychotherapist Alex Yentin, who has worked with Ukrainian children and their parents displaced by the now-severing conflict. 10 months.
“He was so traumatized,” Yentin said of the boy, who now lives in Prague with his mother. “He sleeps with his mom, he’s so attached . . . he’s wet[s] his bed now.
“[It is an] terrible regression.
Yentin, who lives and works in Brooklyn, traveled to the Czech Republic’s capital this week, offering his expertise as part of an ongoing effort to help Ukrainian refugees in countries like Poland and Germany.
“I’m in a good place in America, and other people are hurting, so I can do something about it. [to help]said the 52-year-old shrink, who has been traveling to Eastern European countries since March.
Since the start of the Russian invasion, at least 5.2 million children have been displaced according to a UN report, and 1,148 have been injured or killed since February.
Yentin took in refugees from cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol, some of whom spent weeks underground without food or electricity as bombs rained down on Moscow. Others saw the dead bodies of neighbors lining their streets.
“When I ask them what they went through, their reaction is that they don’t want to talk about it,” Yentin said. “They closed.”
Yentin works with small groups of refugees, providing them with a safe space to share their heavy memories of war, as well as exercises to vent their anger.
Many children and their parents are trying to adjust to life in a country whose language they don’t speak, or are struggling after being separated by Ukrainian politics requiring men to serve in the military.
“In the morning, the first thing they do, children and parents, they open the Internet and see what was bombed that day, and who was killed, who is alive,” Yentin said. “It’s a constant stress.”
The Prague operation is led by the Israeli non-governmental organization Early Starters International, which sets up early childhood programs and care for victims of humanitarian crises, with the help of the Jewish Federations of North America .
Even with the pain of war, Yentin finds reason to hope.
“People found jobs, even without the right language, and their children learned basic Czech, and they made new social connections here with others,” Yentin said.
“They maybe don’t see it so much because they’re traumatized, but I see it.”
New York Post