For most of her life, Liana Dugaro was used to feeling like an outsider. As a member of a small Slovenian minority in Italy, she was used to feeling isolated and left out, like she was not able to communicate with others in her mother tongue.
She found resonance in Somatic Experiencing® International’s global community of passionate practitioners focused on healing. When the war in Ukraine erupted in February, she felt compelled to use her passion for healing and for languages to help others who felt like strangers in lands far from home. From her first volunteer experiences, Liana “got captured in a healing vortex” in her determination to effect change. Before long, she became an integral part of the Somatic Experiencing Ukraine Task Force’s (SEUTF) efforts to make SE-informed tools and resources accessible in as many languages as possible.
So far, SEI’s SCOPE protocol has been translated and validated in over 30 languages, most of which were made possible through Liana’s work as a volunteer translation coordinator. The SCOPE tool provides immediately applicable exercises to stabilize individuals in crisis by reconnecting them to their body and their environment with gentle, targeted gestures informed by leading psychologists, scholars, and crisis workers.
Somatic Experiencing International is a global leader in trauma education, prevention, and resolution. We believe that translation of essential tools such as SCOPE build global structures of care that are immediately deployable in a crisis. As the situation in Ukraine and neighboring nations housing refugees have evolved and members of the global SE community have volunteered their time to provide direct, trauma-informed care to their neighbors coping with the crisis, accessibility and cultural humility have remained at the forefront of the relief effort.
In addition to the publication and distribution of written materials like SCOPE, the SEUTF has offered free educational webinars for aid workers and mental health professionals throughout Europe. These webinars are tailored to the needs of individuals working with refugees and people impacted by the war. To ensure this information remains accessible, the SEUTF has welcomed requests for live interpretation of the webinar sessions, which members of the SE community often volunteer to provide at low or no cost. As a result, most SEUTF webinars draw between 200 and 500 attendees across multiple language channels. In these sessions, participants spanning nations and language barriers are provided opportunities to restore ease in difficult times, connect with their peers, and find their own resonance in a healing community that speaks their language.
The SCOPE translations are written and edited by three volunteer linguists each. When interpretation is added into the mix, Liana’s list of active volunteers often exceeds 100 individuals from every corner of the world. Through her experience as a volunteer, Liana said she discovered the power of connection: especially in the wake of widespread lockdowns across Europe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she says that volunteering helped her feel like part of the world again.
In her role, Liana finds joy in the results and the knowledge that her efforts are contributing to a much greater, lasting endeavor towards accessibility. In her words, “We’re doing something that’s going to stay around forever.”
Over the months of the SEUTF’s development and work throughout Europe, it’s become clear just how important community support and volunteerism is to effective outreach and community healing. Though not every volunteer may be able to give as much time and attention to crisis work as Liana has, she stressed that everyone has something they can give. “Every little thing you can do counts and makes a difference. Volunteering can come in many forms–all you need to do is to leave behind your expectations and biases and be open to discovering what you can give.”