Gaza Update: Helping the children of Gaza heal after the May 2021 bombings

The May 2021 bombings may have stopped, but Gaza’s children are still suffering widespread trauma. With the sound of sirens, the shaking of buildings and the fear of the next airstrike fresh in their young minds, your support last year has been crucial to getting kids the mental health support they need to heal.

Thanks to your support, children in Gaza are receiving 1:1 counselling and group art and play sessions to help them heal from the traumatic events they have witnessed. Richard Wainwright / Act for Peace

In May last year, the world watched in horror as bombs fell on Gaza during the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza. They brought entire buildings to the ground, trapped innocent civilians beneath the rubble, and took the lives of 66 children in Gaza and two in Israel.

Dr Lubna is a health coordinator who works for our local partner in Gaza, the Near East Council of Churches (NECC). Along with her staff of trained counsellors, doctors and nurses, she runs three health clinics that provide crucial mental health care services for children across Gaza.

The clinics were forced to close their doors during the airstrikes. It was simply too dangerous for staff and patients to leave their homes. But in the months after reopening, they saw a huge surge in need, with more and more kids arriving in need of emotional and psychological support.

Dr Lubna and the NECC team provide crucial mental health care services for children across Gaza. Ben Littlejohn / Act for Peace

Dr Lubna shared at the time of the airstrikes:

“Children have become more afraid… and they cannot sleep alone anymore. These children are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting in nightmares, low concentration and insomnia.”

These kids have seen things that no child should see. Without treatment, many would have had no access to support to cope with the trauma they have experienced.

Rebuilding the future

Kids can’t unsee the bombing and destruction they’ve witnessed. But your generosity has given many a chance to heal before that trauma stole their future.

When we launched our Gaza Crisis emergency appeal in June, compassionate people like you gave more than $37,000 in a single month. That has been enough to provide crucial mental health care for more than 1,280 kids.

Thanks to your support, Dr Lubna and her team have been able to provide children right across Gaza with one-on-one counselling and group art and play therapy sessions – as well as a safe place where they can play and feel secure.

Children like Hesham* who was too scared to leave the house after the airstrikes, afraid to leave his mother’s side and too frightened to eat.

Dr Lubna told us:

“Hesham was integrated into the NECC psychological support program, focusing on expressing emotions and drawing. After several sessions, he improved and became more interactive with others. His mother thanked the NECC team and their supporters for helping Hesham to overcome his problem.”

Kids have also been learning important stress management and relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises, to give them practical ways to cope with the trauma they’ve been through.

Even in the most devastating situations, the strongest recoveries are led by the people affected. Brave Gazans like Dr Lubna have worked tirelessly for years to build a brighter future for their community. Right now, with your support, they’re working once again to rebuild that future, by helping kids to recover, heal, and have a chance at the childhood they deserve.

Budour*, a psychologist who runs the NECC Psychosocial Program in Gaza City encourages Tarek* to draw pictures during one of the psychosocial sessions that have helped him cope with the trauma he’s experienced. Richard Wainwright / Act for Peace

*Names changed for safety reasons.

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The international humanitarian agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Act for Peace acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

© Copyright 2021, Act for Peace Ltd ABN 86 619 970 188

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The international humanitarian agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Act for Peace acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

© Copyright 2021, Act for Peace Ltd ABN 86 619 970 188