Psychosocial Support for Gaza Children After Cast Lead

February 15, 2009 ANERA
Emergency Response, Gaza, Psychosocial
ANERA is helping children in Gaza, who have experienced terrible losses after Cast Lead, to begin recovering from psychological and emotional wounds. Children in Gaza experienced terrible losses and need help to recover from psychologically and emotionally.

ANERA is launching a new psychosocial program in Gaza, working with long-time partner Community Training Centre and Crisis Management (CTCCM).

In the immediate aftermath of the 22 days of fighting in Gaza, CTCCM conducted a study on the psychological and emotional problems that emerged among children and their parents. The study revealed, among other things, that high percentages of children are showing symptoms of heavy psychological and emotional wounds:

  • 97% of children are afraid of darkness and clinging to their parents
  • 76% of children exhibit behavioral problems such as social withdrawal
  • 70% of children are depressed and frustrated
  • 71% of children are having trouble sleeping

The study also showed that parents are experiencing severe depression and anxiety.

To address some of these problems, ANERA and CTCCM have identified three sections of Gaza City badly damaged by the bombardment. In those communities, psychosocial activities will be directed to 6,500 children (aged 8 to 14) and 1,500 adults.

Psychosocial activities will reach 6,500 kids and 1,500 adults.

Experienced trauma counselors with special training will work with children, conducting group sessions to encourage more interaction with peers and sharing of feelings about what they have witnessed. Children release their anxieties and traumas through guided activities such as drawing, telling stories, dancing and performing skits. For more severely traumatized children, one-on-one counseling will be offered.

We will also work with parents, through group counseling sessions, to develop strategies for providing better support to their children and for coping with the traumas they themselves have suffered.

“We have not come to the end of our difficulties in Gaza,” says Mona Abu Ramadan, Manager of the Milk for Preschoolers Program. “They have just started. In every family, you either have a lost house or a lost parent, brother or sister. Or maybe someone has lost a limb. Every family in Gaza has lost something.”

The work to recover from the physical and emotional damage done in Gaza is just beginning.

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