Kurdistan-Iraq April-May 2016
Schoolyard Atmosphere in Northern Iraq
On Friday May 6th, the emergency pedagogy team of the Friends of Waldorf Education returned from their fourteen day mission in northern Iraq. In addition to working with the children, the focus this time was on intensive trainings, with the goal of enabling the local team to independently plan and carry out work units.
Since the beginning of this year, the emergency pedagogy work with children and adolescents in both of the refugee camps in the region of Dohuk has been taking place in so called Child Friendly Spaces. Child Friendly Spaces are specially designed areas within the camp for children. They offer the children a safe place where they can take advantage of the emergency pedagogy offerings. Between work units a joyful exuberant atmosphere prevails, as if one were on a schoolyard. The Friends of Waldorf Education had play and sport materials delivered via land transport, they were excitedly tested out by the children. Rope was skipped and ball played. Pedalos were at first eyed with caution, but shortly thereafter tried out to many laughs. In addition to the ritual of beginning and closing circles, these break units are fixed and important, essential parts of the daily structure. The recurring routine is a central element which helps to emotionally stabilise the affected persons after traumatic experiences.
Building on the teacher training courses of the last year, a three day seminar also took place with teachers of the provisional school in one of the refugee camps. Subject of the continuing education course taught by the international team was firstly the theory and practice of emergency pedagogy methods. The meaning of the growing child’s developmental stage under the influence of traumatisation was also a main topic. Posttraumatic stress symptoms and case examples were discussed in depth. Furthermore the local team prepared a parent night, in order to report about their work. The parents and teachers also had the opportunity to discuss which social and spatial design possibilities exist to give the children the healing experiences of a safe place.
The accompanying doctor led a first aid course with content-related and practical units for local colleagues. Among others, the handling of fainting spells was thoroughly discussed because this has been increasingly occurring after flight traumata, especially among young women.
A further focus of this mission was networking with other international aid organisations on location. The Friends of Waldorf Education are now increasingly sought after for advice, for example when building schools, due to their pedagogical experience in refugee camps. Besides this, exchange with international players supports networking with further implementations partners and therefore the financing of the project.