Anera has set up psychosocial summer camps for Gaza’s children
After three days of Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza this past August, it’s the children who suffer most. Many display post traumatic stress disorder even if they were not in the areas under bombardment. To alleviate the effects of conflict, Anera launched a series of psychological intervention camps for children in the northern and southern areas of Gaza.
The camps allowed children to play with their supervisors and interact with music and songs. Art sessions allowed children to draw their emotions too. The camps focused on children aged three to six in areas hard hit by the Israeli bombing, such as Jabalia in the north and Rafah in the south. The number of participating children reached 100 in each camp.
In Jabalia, four kindergartens in Al Amal Refugee Camp in the northern Jabalia area as well as Rafah in the south. More than 200 children participated in the activities in the two camps.
In Al Amal, supervisor Ola Hassan gathered children in a colorful classroom to interact with games.
"My indoor games aim at helping children release their emotions after their recent experiences of bombings and all."
Ola says Anera provided a good supply of age-appropriate interactive toys and games. "We offer a range of games and activities that attract children and keep them busy.”
Hanin Al-Hamdiat was responsible for the drawing corner and was gratified to see the children using art to express their feelings and fears. But, she says, some of the children's drawings exhibited signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. "Some children drew violent images or tore up the paper and asked for more. And others drew explosions, fireworks, and random circles.“
Hanin added that some children refused to draw at all. "We could see that these youngsters often suffer silently even though we know they need to release their negative energy and fear because it could affect them in the future."
"[T]hese youngsters often suffer silently even though we know they need to release their negative energy and fear because it could affect them in the future.".”
Salim Abu Jaser, the lead supervisor in Jabalia camp, explained the camps featured indoor and outdoor activities, such as a puppet theatre, storytelling, plastic art and drawing. The camp sessions lasted four days.
Salim underscored the significance of the camps in supporting children who are among the most vulnerable groups in Gaza suffering difficult psychological challenges. "We focused on children from areas affected in the recent bombings because they need to release their fears and anxiety and we help them to do that through art and other activities."
Salim is determined that the camps continue to serve the children throughout the year. "The impact of the children’s participation in the camps is remarkable."
He adds another benefit: the camps can offer job opportunities for youth to become supervisors and help the younger generation cope with Gaza’s many challenges.