When I visited Gaza in 2012, there were a number of Israeli warplane bombing sorties which killed about a dozen people in the strip. The first one I witnessed was about 4 blocks away from where I was, leaving the British cemetery. The entire street that I was on erupted into screams. It sounded as though the blocks of flats were themselves wailing because of the children inside. Just as worrying were the young teenagers who were walking as though military bombing was the most natural thing in the world. And sadly, though it’s far from natural, it is certainly a ‘normal’ experience for Gaza’s civilians, including the children.

Rates for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for children run amongst the highest in the world amongst Gaza’s children. Just after the 2008/09 onslaught by the Israeli military, trauma ran in the high 90% range for children in the strip. Sadly, psychological trauma doesn’t heal overnight. And that is especially true when reminders of that trauma in the guise of continual bombing and low flights by Israeli warplanes serve as frequent reminders of the events of 2008/09 and November 2012 for all of Gaza’s population, but especially its children.

Working with our partners, the Canaan Institute of New Pedagogy, Hope and Play is looking to fund psychosocial and educational therapy for 500 of Gaza’s most traumatised children. The goal is to as much as possible allow these children to access education, and overcome the chronic psychological conditions that make education extremely difficult, if not impossible.

We have identified 5 community centres, which will take on 100 children each in this programme. As a part of the initiative, we will be funding the training of a number of graduates who will be able to continue this kind of work once our particular project is over.

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You can find out more through the attached fact sheet.