By Hilkka Hyrkko, IFRC

Servicemen struggling to readjust to civilian life in Ukraine are the subject of a photo exhibition shining a light on the impact of conflict on mental health.

Appreciate the Peace’, held in Bila Tserkva, is dedicated to the topic of conflict in the country’s east. It tells the stories of men who had served during the conflict and the effect that experience had on them and their families.

The photos also highlight how psychosocial support and rehabilitation provided by Ukraine Red Cross has helped them and their loved ones overcome the past and begin to move on.

Oleksander Kushnarenko
“I was mobilized in 2014 and spent 18 months in service. There were different situations on the front: hard and scary, terrible and incomprehensible. When I returned home, it was not easier but even harder.”

“It was hard for me to fit into normal life after my experiences on the front line. I stopped talking to friends because they didn’t understand me. My relationship with my family was strained. My wife and children were the first to take part in the project – it helped us a lot.”

Alex Tarshin
“ I was was in a brigade as a driver. I spent a year in the conflict zone. I was transporting  shells on the front line. It was difficult after returning. People are dying there but when you are away from that, it is like a different world.”

Dmitry Feshchenko
“I was in service for 14 months and fortunately returned home alive and can be with my sons. It was very difficult to get back to a normal and calm life. My view of life  and what matters changed – my whole attitude was different.”

This event is part of a Ukraine Red Cross project focusing on help for those affected by the conflict which is supported by the Government of Japan.

Photography: Roman Naumov

See the full photo exhibition here: