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Our Project - Don't Leave a Child Alone with a War

   HIBUKI is a groundbreaking, unique therapeutic project on a global scale, developed in Israel during the Second Lebanon War by Dr. Shai Hen-Gal and Prof. Avi Sadeh, aiming to provide an immediate and effective therapeutic solution to thousands of distressed children suffering the throes and trauma of war or natural disasters.

   The project is called HIBUKI THERAPY, Developed by Dafna Maksimov (Sharon) based on the interview of Dr. Shai Hen Gal– taken from the Hebrew word "to hug." It incorporates a therapeutic doll with a sad face and long arms that “hugs” the child. First, emotionally distressed children are diagnosed, and each receives their own HIBUKI doll, a booklet that tells HIBUKI’s story in drawings, and a professional protocol created specifically for them. Next, the doll and the professional protocol take the children through the process of projecting their anxieties, fears and distresses upon the doll. Then, in the second stage, through the treatment via the HIBUKI doll, the children actually handle their fears and anxieties. In addition, each child receives therapeutic support sessions from professionals whose job is to accompany and guide the children through the process.

   The HIBUKI therapeutic intervention has been evaluated by several studies carried out by Tel Aviv University and published in the professional journal Pediatrics. These studies demonstrated its high efficacy in reducing anxiety in children exposed to mass traumatic events.

   Over the past decade, the HIBUKI THERAPY project has been implemented amongst 120,000 children in the south of Israel during war situations and other disasters (like fires, etc.). Also, following the Tsunami disaster in Japan, in 2011, the project was implemented there amongst 1,000 children who lost their parents and homes, training hundreds of professionals in northern Japan to treat children with the HIBUKI doll and creating special treatment centers in Japanese hospitals. 


Intervention upon the outbreak of war in Ukraine


   The outbreak of the war generated emotional distress in hundreds of thousands of children: The vast destruction, the sudden nature of war, its prolongation, the uncertainty, and the loss of daily routine for millions of children – all these have created emotional distress cycles in hundreds of thousands of children. According to UN data, around 4 million children have been forced to leave their homes during the war; over 1 million children suffered from acute post-trauma; thousands of children were left orphaned, and many others lost their homes.

   With the outbreak of the war, as we saw the severe distress and helplessness of children throughout Ukraine, we decided here in Israel that it is our moral duty to do everything possible to help as many children as we can throughout Ukraine via the HIBUKI THERAPY project. Therefore, during the first weeks of the war, we recruited a team of volunteers in Israel, adapted the HIBUKI THERAPY program to the war situations in Ukraine, translated and localized all the materials, and raised a budget for the immediate purchase of 10,000 HIBUKI dolls and the operation of the project in Ukraine and began training about 500 Ukrainian professionals on the HIBUKI therapy and the how to assist children in trauma situations.


As part of the HIBUKI THERAPY project, the following activities were carried out during the past year:

  • Over 20,000 emotionally distressed and post traumatic children all over Ukraine received the HIBUKI therapy, which included the HIBUKI doll, parental guidance and HIBUKI therapy sessions.

  • Around 2,600 specialists and educators have been trained in implementing the HIBUKI therapy in trauma situations, of which 2,000 are psychologists and therapists, and 600 are teachers and educators. Most of these training sessions were carried outin collaboration with the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the directors of education departments inregional councils, including Kiev, Zhytomyr, Lviv, Odesa, Poltava, Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Lutsk, Rivne, Nikopol, and Nikolaev

  • We have established 19 local centers throughout Ukraine implementing the HIBUKI Project.

  • We have treated around 450 orphaned children in 9 rehabilitation camps operated by local and international aid organizations, including UNICEF, AEAD-foundation and more.

  • We have delivered over 50 professional webinars for students and faculty members at all major universities in Ukraine, about how to treat traumatized children.

  • We trained about 120 medical clowns from Kiev, Lviv and Kharkiv circuses. Once trained, these medical clowns started working with hundreds of children in hospitals, evacuation centers and subway stations.

  • We partook in establishing and training therapeutic teams of 4 rehabilitation and resilience centers opened over the past year in Odesa, Kiev, Kharkiv, and Kropyvnytskyi, where hundreds of children in severe distress situations were treated.

  • To support Ukraine’s economy, we transferred the production of the dolls and professional booklets from China to Ukrainian factories in Dnipro and Lviv – providing employment for dozens of families.

  • We trained 130 medical students on the intervention and how to treat traumatized children.

  • The intervention activity was supported by several evaluation studies in collaboration with Prof. Anufrieva, Head of the Psychology Department at University in Kiev, and Prof. Karamoshka, Head of the Academy of Psychology in Ukraine. The evaluation studies, conducted among hundreds of children, indicated the high efficacy rate of the intervention.


  • Olga Buiduck - Senior Advisor on education to the President of Ukraine.

  • Maryna Popatenko Shagnit - Minister of Sports and Youth

  • Irina Tulakova - in charge of Informal Education in Ukraine.

  • Elkin Alexander – Director of Educational Affairs of the EDCAMP organization

  • Tatyana Guzenko - head of the Kiev City Council, responsible for Welfareand Education.

  • Prof. Karamushka – Head of the Academy of Psychologyin Ukraine.

  • The MASH’AB Organization of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Office

  • The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel

  • Heads of the education departments in the following main cities:

  • Igor Smagin – Zhytomyr

  • Igor Spirin - Lviv

  • Olga Demenko- Kharkiv

  • Oleksiy Volodymyrovych Poltoratskyi - Dnipro

  • Buinevich Olena Valerievna- Odesa

  • Paska Oleg Volodymyrovycg- Lviv


   In April 2023, the HIBUKI THERAPY project received the outstanding oppurtunity to be recognized as an honoree for the Genesis Prize, which is dedicated to Jewish organizations who have attained success in their attempts to make the world a better place. 

   Known as the "Jewish Nobel Prize" (TIME Magazine) , this award recognizes the HIBUKI THERAPY project's direct impact in helping thousands of Ukrainian children during the war and will support the project going forward.


   In December 2022, an Israel-Ukraine-Poland international conference was held in Warsaw and attended by the Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine and various government officials.

   During the conference, the HIBUKI THERAPY project received a commendation and a Certificate of Appreciation for helping and caring for more than 20,000 distressed children in Ukraine.

The continuation of war in 2023, and the enormous devastation and uncertainty have led to worsening of mental distress and post-trauma among many children.


Hence, we have set ourselves a goal of raising USD 1,000,000 during 2023, designated towards the following activities:

  1. Caring for additional 25,000 emotionally distressed children via the HIBUKI therapy, emphasizing geographic expansion and working in peripheral cities, including Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk,and Uman.

  2. Giving 30 professional training seminars, of 36 hours each, to 1500 participants (educators and therapists).

  3. Training 300 medical staff members on how to treat traumatized children.

  4. Creating a therapeutic program for emotionally distressed children and training the necessary teams for treatment centers in Ahmaded hospitals.



  1. Open more rehabilitation and resilience centers In other cities: Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Nikopol, LVIV.

  2. Expanding the project into the Ukrainian education system.

  3. Reaching out to as many senior officials and international policy makers as possible and to give a voice to the Ukrainian emotionally distressed children.

  4. Developing additional professional training materials: a booklet and training program, a mobile app, etc.


   Simultaneously, we are currently building a long-term, five-year program on caring for distressed and traumatized children. It will be created in collaboration with Ukrainian government officials and other key figures who can assist and be part of this essential program.

   We believe that the rehabilitation of Ukraine starts with rehabilitating the  children's mental health. They are the future of Ukraine. So, over the past year, we have decided to continue doing everything we can to reach all emotionally distressed children and offer them the therapeutic solutions they need. No child will be left untreated.


Dafna Sharon-Maksimov

Head of the International Hibuki Therapy Project

Phone: +972523912062 


Haazmaut 48 Ashdod , Israel

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