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Gaza July 2010

Gaza…and the hope dies

The emergency pedagogy crisis intervention of the Friends of Waldorf Education from July 17th to 31st, 2010

At first glance everything is better. The border crossing Erez has been concreted. The ruins in Gaza have disappeared at many locations. The first impression suggests that the situation in the Gaza Strip has stabilised for the good of the people.

But if one looks beyond the surface, it becomes clear that the situation of the people is not better but rather has become worse. Hardly anybody hopes to be able to move freely one day. Leave Gaza? Impossible! With an unemployment rate of over 80%, especially men see a hopeless future. Where should they get work? Their families had to painfully experience that they cannot protect their children from military attacks. Almost weekly there are military attacks in Gaza. On July 22nd, there was a nail bomb attack in Beit Hanoun, at which two people lost their lives and four children were injured. The hope for a peaceful and safe future is dying. The people are constantly exposed to re-traumatisations.

Already in 2009, the Friends of Waldorf Education carried out two emergency pedagogy crisis interventions in the war region of Gaza. Their encounters with many children, adolescents, and their parents traumatised by war promoted them to enter into negotiations with the German Federal Foreign Office, in order to establish a long-term project in the Gaza Strip.

For the first time with support from the German Federal Foreign Office, the “Friends” carried out their third intervention in the crisis region from July 17th to 31st.
In cooperation with Al-Qattan Centre for the Child, the “Friends of Waldorf Education” was able to build a child protection area - a so-called Child Friendly Space - for the children of the Samouni Clan. The Samouni-Clan was severely affected by armed conflicts during the Israeli military offensive in winter 2008/09, during which 36 clan members were killed—including children.
For the Child Friendly Space, a room was rented and equipped with raffia mats, plastic chairs and tables. A tank carrying 1000 litres of water was also organised so that the children have access to clean drinking water. In the course of the mission, local professionals were also trained in the methods of emergency pedagogy based on Waldorf Pedagogy, so that they could continue the work in the Child Friendly Space.

The “Friends-Emergency Team” also worked with children at the Al-Qattan Centre for the Child, who participated in the institution’s summer camps during the three-month long summer break. “Structure is totally unfamiliar to the children of the Samouni-Clan when compared to the children in the Al-Qattan Centre,” reported Kristina Manz, organiser and mission leader. The children can only concentrate for a short period of time on one thing and break away from a group quickly. However rhythm care reorganises rhythms destroyed by their experiences and rituals offer children orientation and stability. Therefore it is important when working with the children of the Samouni-Clan to implement a daily routine, on which the children can orient themselves. Thus everyday begins with an opening circle and ends with a closing circle. In between the girls and boys are worked with in different groups using experiential pedagogy and art therapy. There are also eurhythmy and toddler groups.

In order to further train local professionals in their acting competences, there will be an additional follow-up mission in October of this year in the Gaza Strip, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Also when the situation in the Gaza Strip will not or only very slowly changes for the better, the task remains to support the people in overcoming their experiences and to give them moments of joy. Because joy heals too.

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