Saturday, March 28, 2009
Reuters AlertNet, March 25, 2009 - It is three months since the first bombs began to fall on Gaza, and I see that this war left much more damaged than just houses. For the past two months, I have been meeting with communities, hearing their experiences, their fears. I realized that it left very deep injuries for these women and families. It changed their life styles, the way they think and live together, where they sleep, how they cope. Everything is changed.
At the meetings, the women started to tell stories. You would be amazed by what the women say how their children behave after the war, their attitudes and behaviour change at home and school. Most women say their children refuse to move alone. They refuse to sleep alone in their own rooms. Children do not go to play outside like they used to do, play football or traditional games, because somebody told them that other children were killed out in an airstrike. So now the children are afraid.
There is anxiety, fear, sleep disorders, bed-wetting, even for 14-15 year olds. Some children became violent and aggressive, and want to watch the news, want to know if there's going to be another war.
They are watching the news instead of watching cartoons, or children's movies.
This has put new burdens and responsibility on the mothers, and they're not equipped with the skills to cope with this. CARE is working together with women in community groups across Gaza to help them access psychosocial support for themselves and learn how to counsel their own children.
Before the war, most action plans of the women's groups we work with weren't focused on psychosocial support; most were talking about income-generating projects for women such as rabbit-raising, supporting female farmers, sewing. But after the war, the priorities changed. People need an immediate response to the psychological trauma....
Jawad Harb is a Palestinian living in Rafah, Gaza, with his wife and six children. Harb has worked with CARE since 2002, managing a program supporting women's centres in Gaza.