Talk about Melinda Endreyemergency psychologist based in Tenerife, is to make it from the last great events that have shaken the world. He began to use art as a common thread to provide therapy at the H10 Costa Adeje hotel, where he attended hundreds of guests confined by COVID-19 in February 2020. Later, he assisted victims of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, in La Palma , as a member of the Psychological Intervention Group in Emergencies and Catastrophes (GIPEC) of the Official College of Psychology (COP) Tenerife. And since last February 24, he works with ukrainian children fleeing the war in a border town in the north of Romania.
“When I was activated, I didn’t really know what we were up against. I arrived at the hotel and found 1,000 people of 24 nationalities, hundreds of them children, whom we could not access because they were in quarantine, “explains Melinda to DIARIO DE AVISOS about one of the most relevant events of the start of the pandemic in the Islands. In that device, given the impossibility of attending in person, she says that “I came up with the idea of drawing stories and sending them to the rooms” to the little ones. An initiative that turned out to be fruitful, given that she, she indicates, had the desired effect: “They also sent me drawings.” This is how she made art therapy one of her most important work tools.
But, in the context of that emergency, he not only realized that the artistic disciplines could be of great help to calm the victims of a catastrophe. He also paid attention to the workers on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus: “I saw the emotional overflow of the health workers due to the magnitude of the pandemic,” he says. That is why he proposed to the COP a project to encourage Primary Care personnel, who carry on their shoulders the responsibility of caring, in the first instance, for patients who have contracted the disease, some seriously.
He spent months comforting those soldiers of the public health system, until, on September 19, history wanted to mark a new milestone. The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted, and the dean of the COP, Carmen Linares, picked up the phone: “Melinda, how about you take your brushes, canvases and acrylics to La Palma?”, he asked her, to which she agreed . An experience that left its mark on Melinda, to the extent that she saw herself “painting with the noise of the volcano in the background”; a roar that she, she recognizes, has been etched in her memory and she will never forget.
And, after two marathon years in which she has remained involved in a frenetic dynamic, from intervention to intervention, she recounts that she wanted to take a well-deserved vacation: “I hadn’t seen my family in a long time, so I took a flight to Romania.” Her initial idea was to spend a few weeks surrounded by her relatives and away from the emergencies she had had to deal with. However, fate seemed unwilling to give him a break. As soon as her plane touched down, Russian troops, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, entered Ukrainian soil, beginning the invasion of the Eastern European country.
Melinda’s parents, journalists from the Romanian national radio, perfectly understood what role their daughter had to assume. “I looked for a team that I had been working with 10 years ago, I put on the psychologist’s vest in international emergencies and I traveled to the border with Ukraine.” Upon arrival at the scene, she affirms that she perceived “a lot of panic”, especially among the children: “They were very scared, crying”, not understanding the reason why they had had to leave their homes without knowing if they would return.
Among all the cases that he has heard over the four weeks that he has been participating in the refugee assistance device, he says that the one of a family of three members was striking: a mother and her two children. “The mother said that a few hours before they had come out of a bunker, they went to a subway station and they were bombed.” However, they were lucky to be able to reach one of the borders in the south of the country.
The woman explained that her little girl, four years old, used to have trouble getting dressed. But the day they fled from the place they until recently called home, her daughter waited for the sound of air-raid sirens to die down and the missiles to give way to deathly silence. Then, continues Melinda: “The mother told me that she stood up, put on her jacket by herself and told her I’m ready. I promise you I won’t cry. I won’t be afraid, but let’s goyes”.
Melinda’s polyglot skills, who speak four languages (Spanish, English, Hungarian and Romanian) have not gone unnoticed. She admits that it is one of the reasons, together with her experience -which in Romania acquires special value, since there is no emergency psychology specialty-, for which she was chosen to cross the border and enter Ukraine. There, she comments that there are “tremendous queues, with people waiting up to 72 hours to get out”, and she has attended, above all, “to the children and families who are waiting in the cars”.
Soon, he indicates that he plans to go to the Chernovtski hospital, to, going back to his work with the Primary Care staff in Tenerife, “psychologically support the doctors”, who have had to witness the death of civilians due to the bombings. In addition, Melinda, using the service record of her teaching “some Psychology classes in English at the University of La Laguna”, also states that she hopes to be able to train Ukrainian psychologists, so that they acquire resources in response. to emergencies. Skills that have enabled this professional based in the Canary Islands to face the great tragedies of recent years: the pandemic, the La Palma volcano and, now, the war.