Healing Through Feeling
During the 2014 Conflict:
- 1,462 Gazan civilians, including 551 children, were killed
- 11,231 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children and 3,540 women, 10% suffer permanent disability
- 18,000 housing units were destroyed in whole or part
- Over 50% of Gaza’s kindergartens were damaged, and 11 were completely destroyed
- As of June 2015, less that 1% of construction materials necessary to rebuild Gaza and accommodate natural growth had entered Gaza
Source: UN OCHA
Children living under siege in the Gaza Strip have seen repeated military assaults, causing the death of loved ones and the destruction of familiar surroundings. The effects of the trauma they experience can last into adulthood, hindering their ability to cope with the challenges of living under occupation.
Mental Health, a Need That Is Often Overlooked
Many international NGOs and community-based non-profits strive to address the complex needs of Gaza’s residents. Some of the most challenging needs to identify and address are mental health needs of children and families traumatized by war. Ongoing blockade and periodic Israeli bombardments create uncertainty and increase the complexity of these needs, necessitating the development of programs that educate and build awareness as a first step towards healing.
Building a Trauma-Informed System of Support
The Healing Through Feeling pilot program helps Gaza’s children and communities through a combination of trauma education, awareness and assessment. Healing Through Feeling invests in Gaza’s mental health practitioners, providing them with cutting-edge trauma, counseling and assessment education and training, as well as ongoing professional support.
In turn, these practitioners are hosting educational sessions for Palestinian teachers and parents that build awareness of trauma and delve into the effects of ongoing trauma, its signs and symptoms, and ways of alleviating these symptoms in children.
Palestinian practitioners will also work with children in kindergartens across Gaza, engaging them in various age-appropriate therapies to assess the level of trauma each child may be experiencing. Those who need second-level intervention will be referred to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, a UPA partner organization in the Gaza Strip, where UPA will cover the cost of their treatment.
Our vision is to expand the successful Healing Through Feeling pilot program and integrate it into all of Gaza’s 470 private kindergartens, improving the lives of over 50,000 children and their families so they can take full advantage of freedom when it comes.
UPA Leadership and Partners
Dr. Fedah Dahdul is directing this ambitious UPA initiative and has recruited a team of international mental health professionals and Palestinian practitioners in Gaza to successfully execute the program.
In addition to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, UPA is proud to partner with the American Psychological Association, which has granted us access to five of their most effective children’s books on trauma to translate into Arabic and to use with parents, teachers and of course, children. Learn more about the partnership with the APA here.
Help Palestinian children heal and begin to live without the fear and anxiety they have endured. Your donation of $25 per month will enable 3 children to be part of the Healing Through Feeling program.