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Gaza Situation Update
Visit 10-12 February 2015

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As we concluded our visits with Misereor for the day, I felt very blessed to have had the chance to accompany the Misereor delegation and listen to the spiritual message of Misereor’s President Msgr. Pirmin Spiegel. Words cannot express our deepest appreciation from this humble priest who truly inspired those we met to keep their faith and hope alive!

Progress of the Emergency’s Psychosocial Intervention:
After bidding farewell to our partners from Misereor, we started the second day with visits to other psychosocial programs. Throughout our visits to the psychosocial sessions, the sight of children enjoying the activities and having fun was most refreshing to see.

  • The Ashtar Theater Group program has been launched at five public schools serving around 1,500 5th and 6th graders. According to Ashtar, this program was the first time Hamas’s Ministry of Education in Gaza approved a ‘drama and theatrical arts’ program in public schools. Ashtar Theater Group is hopeful that this breakthrough is only the beginning of the process to change the ‘traditional culture’ of education in Gaza. The beauty of the program is that it provides jobs for 33 young drama counselors.
  • The Women’s Graduate Society program is also ground breaking as psychosocial workshops are currently underway for public schools and kindergartens that are deemed by the Ministry of Education as the neediest. These programs also provide employment opportunities to about 30 unemployed women who were trained in psychosocial counseling through our 2012 emergency program. We visited Shuhada Al- Mintar School where around 300 girls were participating in an ‘open day’ — a term for outdoor competitive sports activities, games and activities. The smiles of these young girls are worth a million words, and make our intervention truly meaningful.
  • YMCA — Gaza was visited when it was already after dark and all psychosocial activities for the day ended, but we had a chance to speak with YMCA members as well as staff of the kindergarten. In addition to the in-house activities, a number of ‘open days’ were arranged for families living in the destroyed neighborhoods. The members mentioned a particular ‘open day’ that was held at Zanna — a neighborhood in the southern part of the Gaza Strip near Khan Younis. The organizers expected about 150 children to attend but instead were met with over 600 children who heard about the event in addition to local authorities who wanted to thank the YMCA team for selecting their neighborhood for the event.

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