A United Nations report published in September 2014, estimated that 400,000 people were in need of urgent physical and psychological support in Gaza, following Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ during which aerial bombardment and ground strikes continued for 51 days. The trauma of this time and the slow and stunted progression and development since, due to the blockade on Gaza that allows minimal resources to enter Gaza, has had a lasting effect on the people of Gaza. Specialised psycho-social help and support is a necessity for the residents of the Strip, and this centre provides this. Therapy techniques such as Mind and Body Therapy, Focusing Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (C.B.T) have had very positive results since the centre first opened in 2008. The centre has been built and cultivated and now provides on-going care and support for those in-need.
Why is this project so important?
The tense and incendiary relationship that exists between Gaza and Israel has meant that the people who live in what is often referred to as the world’s largest prison, suffer from extremely high levels of psychological trauma. During Operation Protective Edge, over 2,000 people were killed including over 500 children. 3000 houses were completely destroyed and up to 27,000 damaged, some severely. Much of the infrastructure was completely destroyed, and still today there is no regular power supply or water supply. Amidst the terror of the bombing attacks, families rushed from their houses and took refuge in UNRWA schools and clinics, but these refuges were also bombed, thus increasing the general trauma experienced. The Palestine Trauma Centre creates a safe space for people to seek psychological help and equips them with the skills and ability to harness positive behaviour during and after times of crisis. Crucially, the centre helps to reinforce Palestinian family resilience, enabling people to carry on living.
Who does this project help?
To date, 60 families have benefitted from family therapy. 6,570 children from the refugee camps of Gaza benefited from recreational activities run by the centre, and 260 mothers, fathers, and the elderly benefitted from psycho-education sessions. Coordination has begun between the centre and 24 local and international associations and schools, extending the reach and effectiveness of the project as we look to the future.
How does this project help in the long run?
We hope to extend the Centre’s scope by increasing the work-force in order to continue reaching the most in-need and traumatised families in Gaza. By expanding the working area to include the whole of Gaza, in addition to securing everything needed to facilitate the team’s capacity to travel to these areas, we can broaden our impact. The coordination with local agencies and institutions increases the sustainability of this project and cements it even further in the community fabric.