Article By Nora Ryszka. It was first published at mumpark.hu.
It is an honour and an inspiration to talk to people who have empathy, helpfulness and a willingness to do something. One of the winners of the competition for Ukrainian refugees is the Mezőovácsháza-based JóLélek Műhely Association. We first spoke to Dori Laky, coordinator of the project “Bridge to each other – nature-based activities and leisure activities to help Ukrainian refugees in Csongrád-Csanád County”, when they were preparing for the programmes. A well-developed schedule, different programmes for different locations each day, volunteers precisely scheduled… Then they were faced with reality.
Dóri, what kind of material did you submit for the spring round of MoNa’s Ukrainian competition?
Laky Dóri – GoodSoul Association
We started with a well-developed programme, with concrete ideas and plans. Basically, our goal was to start connecting with refugee families, women and mothers through co-creation. We wanted to involve children and adults together in the creative process, so that we could get to know each other’s world a little better and have a conversation, expressing that we women can look after each other, even in the most difficult times.
We have planned puppetry, soap making, dances, gardening, musical instrument playing and of course lots of mental health talks.
“Our aim is to move beyond the divisions, the vulnerability of being a refugee, the imprints of war, and to pass on the message to refugee families that if we women look out for each other, we can preserve our community and each other, even in the most difficult times.” GoodSoul Association
Your role is also special in that you plan programmes in 3 different locations, with people from 3 different backgrounds. From people living in extreme poverty to refugees from the middle class. You worked with the poorest in the first round. We spoke just days before we started and I have to tell you, I see you as a different person since then. How are you, what have you experienced during the programmes?
I can honestly say that the first day was very difficult: total shock. When we arrived, we were confronted with the conditions in which people live there. We were greeted by a completely different experience than what we had prepared for. We had a good idea of what the programmes were going to be, but at that stage it was just not realistic. At first I thought, “Oh my God, what tools do I have?”
About the work of the GoodSoul Association:
“As an organisation of the LEMangURIA® Community, we support people connected to us in life guidance, in learning to act, in unleashing creative energies driven by inner inspirations. Our aim is to support physical, mental and spiritual health. Our mission is to enrich and strengthen vitality, knowledge and capacity for love. We have self-discovery dance classes for children and adults, a birth support program, experiential camps at home and in Transylvania, health promotion lectures, free online psychological and life coaching.”
And what could you touch under these circumstances? What tools did you have to deal with the situation?
Just the presence. We had planned to play puppetry or bead, but there was no room. Doctors came to give the children the second part of their vaccinations – because they hadn’t had any vaccinations before – and we spent the first half of the time trying to calm the children who were chasing each other. It was not easy to arrive in this space. But then together we did, and by accepting the situation we were finally able to ground the energies there. And it was in this attention that the possibility of a solution was born. Kata took out the puppets she had made earlier with Hajni and the children, and she captured the day in a story, releasing the tension… We had to be able to let go of any ideas we had about what would work, and arrive in the present, being available to what was happening there.
What are the families you have met like?
We worked with 7 families in the first round, that’s 3 generations, 35 people, 21 of them children. They were all Transcarpathian Hungarian-speaking people who identified themselves as Roma. Almost all of them were vulnerable – so we had to take a different approach.
We also saw patterns of behaviour that do not stem from being a refugee, but from their basic functioning. In many cases, we found that the children were both aggressive with each other and that they received little attention. Even though we had intended to establish a relationship with the mothers, it immediately became clear that the children would take away our energy.
For example, there was a 10-11 year old girl who, as the eldest, was given the responsibility of looking after the other children when the mother was taken to Mako to pack tomatoes. This little girl had to stay at home with six of her own, the youngest of whom was one and a half years old and still in the tiny tummy… Her automatic acceptance of the role of mother created a huge conflict in her world as a small child. On the one hand she would come and play with us, on the other hand there was the little one who was crying because she wanted a tummy and she couldn’t give it to him – she defused this tension by slapping and pulling the smaller ones. It was very difficult to see.
Do you see any solution to this?
It was clear that the children needed to be dealt with in the longer term because they are inattentive. They would need constant supervision when they return to school and kindergarten. It would certainly mean a lot if they could have this continuity, because even in just four days it was clear that they could be taught and moulded. The situation with the aggressiveness I mentioned earlier has also improved a lot in that time. Even if a slap was snapped, a caress came immediately. So you can see that these children are malleable, but they need serious attention.
Or there’s a little boy in Orphan Street… I was very touched by his fate. He was very happy for us, a kind, intelligent, good-hearted child with fire in his eyes. He immediately asked “what are we teaching him?”. I saw the university in him. And I don’t know if you can get from this situation in life, from this mentality, to a point where this child sees the potential in himself. Whether it is possible to overcome the losses, to build a life in which his potential can manifest itself. I am very confident that there will be a developmental teacher in the school who can recognise this and accompany him… It is much harder to do it on your own than when you have someone to take you on, support you and build you up…
Where to go next? What are the next steps?
I think that the world of mothers needs to be cleaned up more, and we haven’t really found the way to do that. We wanted to connect through the children, and we got somewhere, but I don’t think we really connected. So in the next period we will make changes where necessary.
I am very happy that this MoNa application gives me the opportunity to be flexible, to change, to let experience be more important than strict rules.
Read MUM Park’s article about us!
So in July, we will go back to the previous sites with our volunteers and approach the new site with different tools. We are trying to introduce Ukrainian refugee mothers who are open to this to our women’s community in Szeged, which has been operating for more than two years. In this circle, openness and inclusiveness are already present values, and here is an opportunity to see beyond our own world, to look at others.
There is a need for sensitisation on both sides – one playground in particular raised the importance of bridging the gap between mums from both worlds. This is what we are trying to help with: sensitisation, relationship building, communication between adults are the focus of the next section.
I think it is a big task, even if it is symbolic. Because in the present situation we have to accept others into our own living space, and they have to integrate in a way that is acceptable to us. We have to understand perspectives, recognise emotions, hold space in which we can connect and build together… this is what we have to do.
“…to be able to listen to another person without losing oneself…”
I wanted to ask you about the presence that you mentioned earlier, what kind of tool do you use? As a helper, there must be some philosopher’s stone in your pockets…
The GoodSoul Association included the LEMangURIA® method in its toolkit in 2017. This method helps to develop 12 skills that, when working well, bring stability and balance to the life of the person and those around them. Those who trust this method begin to map the world with their movements in a world of free movement, using the thoughts and emotions that arise within themselves. This reflects in black and white what is inside of you. This goes beyond words, because the body is another intelligence.
And when there are collisions in the world of free movement, there is some energy that is being released – you have to see what is happening. We, navigators, are in this space to give direction, to show what to look out for. One of the skills that can be developed through this is the ability to tune in. To be able to listen to another person without losing yourself. This is a lifelong learning, but it can be developed.
“Listening to the other person without losing yourself…” – I think this is exactly the skill that every mother should master professionally. Are you still expecting volunteers for the second phase?
Of course! If there are any mothers or grandmothers who have a sincere desire to help us to build a bridge that can connect the very different, yet very similar worlds of refugee families in Ukraine and our own families, we are waiting for you.
For those who would like to meet you live, learn about the work of the GoodSoul Workshop Association and the LEMangURIA® method, what summer programmes can you suggest?
We can see you as early as next week, in the Valley of Arts. We are looking forward to welcoming you all in Taliándörögd at the LEMangURIA® Creative Movement Courtyard from 22-31 July.
See you there.
The project is supported by MotherNature-Anyatermészet Association, INE, Mother Centers International Network for Empowerment and State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg.
Kiss Judith – MoNa
Judith Kiss | Mother Nature Association: ‘Now is the opportunity to do something, even in small ways, as much as we can, instead of complaining. It’s a great feeling to work with the applicant organisations, to feel the energy that everyone puts into their programmes, as well as the energy that the organisations put into us and into each other.