War in Ukraine: The Singapore connection

S'porean doctor helping Ukrainian grief counsellors

Singaporean Ann Toh is drawing on her expertise in dealing with grief, bereavement and loss to co-lead an initiative that will support front-liners in Ukraine.

Currently in its pilot phase, it will see trained volunteers buddied up with caregivers, such as healthcare workers, counsellors, and humanitarian workers, in Ukraine.

The aim is to prepare the volunteers to provide peer support for people around them in Ukraine.

"As the international community, we want to show solidarity and support our colleagues in Ukraine, so that they know that they are not alone. They know their people and culture.

"We will serve from the back end and support them," said Dr Toh, who is a children's home hospice physician.

The initiative is one of several that she and her colleagues are organising, said Dr Toh, who also lectures at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore.

The first training session by the grounds-up coalition she is co-leading - the Ukraine Psycho-social Palliative Care and Counselling Coalition - was held virtually on Thursday.

The group is a collaboration between representatives from palliative care and counselling organisations worldwide, such as the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation and the World Hospice and Palliative Care Social Work Network.

As part of the coalition's efforts, Dr Toh's fellow co-lead, Ukrainian psychologist Maria Vynnytska, has also been providing free one-on-one support sessions for emotionally affected Ukrainians.

The virtual sessions are carried out by Ms Vynnytska and her three colleagues. She is based in Kyiv.

Nicole Cheah

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2022, with the headline S'porean doctor helping Ukrainian grief counsellors. Subscribe