1. Counselling programme for young children in Gaza: Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (£33,960)
2. Establishing an outreach early intervention programme for deaf children (0-5 years of age): Atfaluna (£31,535)
3. Providing support for children’s early development, Kanafani Kindergartens (£71,765)
1. Children’s Counselling Programme, GCMHP
The School-based counselling programme for young children in Gaza focused on developing an effective support system for children that have been affected by traumatic experiences within the conflict zones of Gaza. According to a 2009 UN report following the Israeli offensive on the the Gaza Strip, (http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=136813.0;wap2) children in the Gaza Strip developed a number of symptoms in response to traumatic events, from profound depression to insomnia and bed-wetting. These traumatic events include witnessing killings and violence of both family and strangers, to facing death themselves. The UN report also documents that 30% of children in UNRWA schools suffered from mental health issues.
Through the efforts of the 27 cyclists in 2010, the Welfare Association was able to partner with The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme “GCMHP” to develop and implement a programme throughout 6 schools in Gaza over 10 months, in addition to organizing and running 6 summer camps,. The summer camps were run for 10 days, 4 hours each day in 6 different areas throughout Gaza.
– 675 one-to-one counselling sessions were provided to 329 children.
– 217 teachers and parents were more able to detect behavioural changes and aided in providing support mechanisms.
– 24 personnel within the schools received 20 hours of training, improving the schools ability to provide the required support.
– School offices were re-equipped with furniture and electrical appliances and the classrooms were provided with toys and other resources required for the counselling sessions.
– The summer camps reached over 300 children where 6 recreational trips were organized including trips to the zoo and the beach.
Assessment of the program on completion highlighted the importance of providing support mechanisms for children suffering from psychological issues. Children that participated in the program demonstrated enhanced social interaction and society re-integration. Their self confidence and self-esteem was significantly improved, contributing to their overall happiness and well-being.
2. Outreach Intervention for Deaf Children, Atfaluna
This project was developed to provide both practical and psychological support for children with hearing impairments and their parents. Due to the nature of the difficult situation in Gaza, parents have significant difficulties coping with children with hearing impairments. This in turn affects the child’s ability to integrate into both the family unit and the community, especially at very young ages.
In collaboration with the Atfaluna Society, the funds raised from the 2010 cycle were used to improve and develop their outreach home based early intervention programme for deaf children (0-5 years of age), contributing £31,535; funding the project for a year.
– Increase the number of families Atfaluna supports in a year by 40%, allowing it to take on 53 new children
– 80% of the children significantly improved their communication and social skills and considerably developed their cognitive abilities and speech acquisition levels (sign and verbal)
– Over 5,000 sessions were conducted in children’s homes, consisting of 2,920 educational sessions and 2,860 psychosocial sessions.
– 53 mothers were trained to develop their communication and interaction capabilities with their children; where over 95% of the mothers indicated that this program significantly improved their inter-family relationships.
– 93% of mothers indicated that the social communication skills of their children with family members developed, helping their children to become more integrated in their surrounding environment.
The program has significantly improved the lives of children with hearing disabilities between the ages of 0-5, defined through the observed outcomes. The program also extended to improving the situations within family households through better internal communication, in addition to the successful integration of deaf children into their surrounding environments and society at large.
3. Early Childhood Development in Kindergartens, Kanafani Development Association
The Kanafani Development Association operates 4 kindergartens with 700 children enrolled within the Biet Hanoun and Jabalia areas of Gaza. Due to the difficult circumstances in Gaza, the schools were not fully equipped and needed renovation.
– Support 275 preschool children with new uniforms, schoolbags, stationary, shoes and winter jackets for an entire academic year.
– Provide 70 children with a full academic scholarship for a year’s enrolment into the schools
– 17 therapeutic and recreational activities and 9 educational and recreational trips were organised
– 2 kindergarten facilities were upgraded and refurbished
– A 7 month nutrition programme was implemented, successfully reducing anaemia in 32.5% of the children.
– 6 sessions on health awareness for mothers were organized by the nutritionist.
– An 85% improvement in interaction and correct answering was observed following the completion of the awareness sessions.
Overall £71,765 was required to achieve these objectives over a 16 month period.
Funds raised were also used to train the entire staff on improving children’s engagement, social and communication skills and their overall happiness. 14 staff members also received financial support in the form of salaries over a 9 month period. The project successfully reached KGs in the most marginalized areas of Gaza, where harsh economic and social conditions prevail. The project enabled children to access quality education at a minimal cost to their families. All basic school needs were provided. Through this project the children received quality pre-school education, achieving the overall goal of the project. The environment of both KGs was improved, and the project enhanced the nutrition and health of the children, positively changed their eating habits in the long term. Finally, the project has raised families’ awareness on nutrition, health and hygiene issues in order to sustain the achieved results in the long-term.
1. Sara was registered to Atfaluna’s Early Intervention Program when she was only 18 months old. The first time her mother brought her to the centre, she had difficulty handling the situation.
“My daughter is deaf… she does not hear me, I don’t know how to communicate with her”. “I don’t go out anywhere with her because I don’t know what to tell my neighbours if they ask me what is wrong with her”.
Shortly after registering in the early intervention programme, both Sara’s mother and Sara participated in Atfaluna’s training course, training the mother on how to communicate better with her daughter. A social worker began to carry out home visits to the family to further the training of both the mother and her daughter.
With the participation of family and friends Sara soon became confident and fluent in sign language. She comfortably explained to her grandmother in sign language how much she loved her favourite toy. Having joined the early intervention program for a few months, the improvement was clearly evident. At such a young age Sara’s communication and comprehension skills were gradually improving. Sara’s family treated her with much respect and affection and was comfortably integrated into their community. Her family explains everything they can to her.
Sara’s mother is now an active member in the advocacy committee for the rights and needs of deaf children. She works hard to explain and guide other mothers who recently discover their child’s deafness.
Sara is only one out of the hundreds of children whose lives were improved through these educational programmes supported by the Welfare Association and Cycling4Gaza.
2. Abdul Kader is living in Jabalia and enrolled in GK KG D, stage 2. Initially, during his time in KG 1 he was continuously absent and did not enjoy going to school. But during this project year, Abdul benefited from the psychosocial sessions and enjoyed the recreational activities and trips provided. Throughout the year, staff at the kindergarten reported an improvement in Abdul Kader’s attendance. His mother noted:
“Abdul Kader became a different child. He is socialising more actively with his relatives and cousins. His self-confidence has improved. He wakes up every day early, before me, so as not to miss going to the KG. Thank you for changing the attitude of my child and bringing happiness to him”.