Monday, January 19, 2009

When the Guns die... Appeal by Eyad Sarraj for Gaza Relief

January 18, 2009

Israel has unleashed its most sophisticated arsenal against the defenseless people of Gaza. Since 27th December 2008, Israel has killed 1200 and wounded 5000 people amid widespread destruction and wholesale bombing. Tonight Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire but kept its forces occupying Gaza and vowed to strike again if Hamas, which was not consulted for the ceasefire, dares to strike the occupying forces.

During this war everyone felt exposed and vulnerable with no safe place to hide. Children are particularly traumatised when they were bombarded with explosives and images of the killed when their parents were so helpless and frightened. Children have already lost the father as a provider due to the economic siege on Gaza, and are now losing the father as a protector.

The immediate effects on children are clear in every house; bed wetting, clinging to the mother, poor sleep, haunted dreams and nightmares, poor appetite, violence, stuttering, etc Some have developed depression.

Within the coming weeks children will develop PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and experts in the field estimate that 50% of the Gaza children will be victims to that.

The long term effects of this brutal war are far reaching with more children growing up to join Hamas or similar groups in their attempt to replace the image of the weak father with that of power.

We in the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme are preparing a plan of action to deal with the immediate crisis and avert the medium and long term effects.

Through working with other agencies and institutions, local or international, we will embark on a community plan of psycho-rehabilitation with special emphasis on traumatised children. We are going to train hundreds of social workers, psychologists and teachers in first aid intervention. We also intend to train hundreds of volunteers for the same purpose. Our specialist teams will engage in training and will also provide expert advanced therapies.

Throughout this massive operation we will document the findings and we will uses that for further research, assessment and reviews. We are grateful for every possible help by volunteering, providing advice or support financially.Our consortium of donors are encouraging and the Swiss Agency Of Development and Cooperation has indicated its willingness to support our plan.

The responsible team leaders in the GCMHP are:
Dr Ahmad Abu Tawahina, PHD, Director
Dr. Abdel Aziz Thabet, PHD, child psychiatrist
Mr. Hassan Ziada, MA. Gaza team leader.

Thank you,
Eyad Sarraj, President
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

:: Donate Now: Tax deductible checks for the emergency work of the GCMHP can be made out and sent to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, PO Box 495, Boston, MA 02112.

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