1. Curtin, Leah ScD(h), RN, FAAN

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'I do know the worst threat to the children's future is not poverty or disease or wounds. It is hatred. Unless we can conquer it, there is no future.'-Patricija Padelin, Zadar, Croatia


Leah Curtin, ScD(h), RN, FAAN, is the editor and publisher of CurtinCalls, a newsletter pertaining to nursing and health care in the United States, and the author of Sunflowers in the Sand: Stories from Children of War (New York: Madison Books, 1999). In 1996 and 1997, she made four visits to Croatia and Bosnia to research and document the lives of children living in war zones. The drawings reproduced here were done by some of the children she met; the children's names have been changed for their protection. Some drawings were made in refugee camps to pass the time, some as part of individual therapy with child psychologist Patricija Padelin, and some at Curtin's request during interviews.


When asked how, as nurses, we can help these children heal, Curtin said, "There are obvious answers-we can help treat their physical and emotional wounds, accept their silence, and respect their need to minimize what's happened to them and to be treated like ordinary children. We can participate in efforts to promote peace here and abroad. But perhaps the biggest challenge these children (indeed, all of us) face is not hating those who have caused them harm, to deny hatred itself a future."


The book project was supported by a partnership grant from the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and the American International Health Alliance. All proceeds from sales of Sunflowers in the Sand go to the Croatian Children's Fund, established by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation, Inc. FIGURE

Figure 1 - Click to enlarge in new window 5 Matija's self-portrait. According to child psychologist Patricija Padelin, the lack of arms in the picture indicates Matija's feeling of helplessness, and the colored triangle between her legs signifies sexual abuse.
Figure 2 - Click to enlarge in new window 3 Davor's self-portrait. He can suppress his memories of bombings when he is awake, but at night they come back. Reprinted from
Figure 3 - Click to enlarge in new window 4 What a child leaves out of a picture can be more significant than what he includes, according to Padelin. Mario drew his father, "Tata," without a mouth because "he yells all the time." No one in Mario's drawing has arms, possibly signifying helplessness; and the fact that Mario and his brother have no feet perhaps represents his belief that they can't escape.
Figure 4 - Click to enlarge in new window 3 Dragi drew his recollection of being wounded. He said later that his arm healed much faster than his heart could.