There is the girl who runs away every night, the boy who refuses to eat, sleep, talk or play, and the parents who are sick with concern.

These are some of the hidden scars from three months of war in Kosovo. It is neither as dramatic as burning houses nor as catchy as the "ethnic cleansing" process Serbs used to expel 860,000 ethnic Albanians from their homeland.

But the psychological trauma of the war, especially for children, is often harder to see, takes longer and is more difficult to fix, and frequently causes more damage and heartbreak to a family than the physical loss of a house or business.

"The little boy was showing that he was dead. He was saying, `I refuse my existence because it's too painful,'" explained Alfonso Artico, a spokesman for the United Nations's child advocacy agency, UNICEF, which has launched numerous programs for refugee children and their families to help them cope with the war and its many atrocities. He estimated more than half of the refugees are under age 15.

"Most people here are deeply shocked and traumatized," he said from his office in Kukes, where there are more than 100,000 refugees, including about 32,000 in nine huge tent cities. "I have heard stories about dead bodies, fathers being killed, houses burned, running fast with the mother crying and spending a month in hiding with no food and water."

Erasing those memories is impossible, but helping children deal with them and restoring their sense of security is the aim of several innovative and well-established programs. And there are several independent medical and children's groups here with trained doctors who are consulted in cases of extreme psychological trauma.

In the camps, schools have been opened even though it's summer, and one mandatory course is peace education, where children are taught to respect the rights of others, even their opponents, and to resolve their disputes through dialogue.

Each camp also has a "child-friendly space"--a new concept to give children "a place to meet each other that's secure, where they can play and not talk about the war, where there are no adults and no psychosocial workers," Artico said. It was just such an area that, after about a month, cured the little boy who was refusing to eat and talk and sleep, he said.

Adjacent to each of these spaces is a tent exclusively for mothers, where they can wash their babies and talk privately among themselves.

Children are also encouraged to write poetry or draw pictures about their experiences.

"Most people in the camps have no chance to express themselves, and children often can't verbalize their feelings, so we ask them to do drawings," Artico said.

"Most start with a war situation--houses burning, dead bodies, blood, tanks. Then a few days afterward they start drawing a peaceful, beautiful, quiet place, and that shows they haven't lost their idea of paradise," he explained.

"The house is always present--a place to feel secure with mother, father and family. It's important to have strong points of reference like that, and to encourage them to socialize and talk about their depression and suffering," he said.

But as the refugees begin returning to Kosovo, some of their worst memories will likely resurface, meaning that counseling will have to continue, in some cases long after the return home.

"They will receive a new shock, going back to the place where the pain started, and they see the burned house and why they had to leave," he said. "But a strong family will rebuild the house, and that's an important symbol for also rebuilding themselves. And the Kosovars are strong, mentally as well."

CAPTION: Healing the Spirit: Carol Guzy of The Washington Post photographed refugees from Kosovo at a camp in Albania last month and found many children trying to cope with their sudden and violent displacement. Clockwise from far left: Jeton Myftari, 14 years old, recites a poem about his war experience; children join a circle for group activities; a notebook shows one child's horrific memories; four young girls find comfort with one another; one child's face reveals the trauma of the war.

CAPTION: Left: A refugee child draws a picture about his memories of Kosovo. Above, a poem written by another child. Below, UNICEF counselor Trida Agolli shows some of the young refugees' images from the war in their homeland.