by Rick Lathrop
Maxine (my wife) and my hearts have been breaking as we watch and read reports of Ukraine including the refugee catastrophe.
I have spent the past 30 years as the founder and executive director of the Global Service Corps (GSC) program (https://globalservicecorps.org/ ) including most recently the CoGenerations Project. How can this experience be utilized to help address this refugee catastrophe? I have decided to put my GSC CoGenerations activities on the back burner so I can dedicate time to assist however I can.
There are many US citizens who would also like to help beyond donating funds. The area where I and GSC might be able to help is in possibly arranging virtual psycho-social support to refugee mothers and children separated from their husbands and fathers. Our international service-learning program experience may be useful in recruiting, supporting, training and otherwise assisting volunteers who might connect virtually with these mothers and children.
One pilot project recently launched by the GSC CoGenerations Project is what we called the Collaborative Online Domestic and International Service-Learning (CODIS-L) program (see https://globalservicecorps.org/intergenerational-dialogue/ ). My thought is that this could be adjusted for use with refugees. This would require identifying NGOs or local organizations on the ground in Poland and/or other countries hosting refugees. I would like to support existing activities along these lines and am in the process of sharing the above information and conversing with a number of international development professional connections to help determine the most practical next steps.
Our work in Cambodia has made us aware of the effects of trauma leading to PTSD. This is now a huge problem with these Ukraine refugees and I/GSC need to learn more about dealing with PTSD if we might be of appropriate assistance.
We have now gathered an advisory group including representatives of the Ukraine organizations TESOL-Ukraine and Women’s Perspective, and are also applying for a grant to support this work.