“They have all had terrible experiences”
Eleventh Emergency Pedagogy Mission in Northern Iraq
From November 4th to 18th, volunteer emergency pedagogues from the Friends of Waldorf Education will once again travel to Northern Iraq. Aid workers have already been working in the region for three years. A few months ago, the project was further continued in cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). Since then, Child Friendly Spaces could be opened in three refugee camps.
The children and adolescents, mostly Yazidis, have experienced the unimaginable. Many saw how relatives and friends were killed by members of ISIS or how they didn’t survive the flight in the hot summer months. Especially children have difficulty understanding and categorising these experiences. They require safe spaces and support, in order to process these experiences so that trauma related disorders can be lessened.
The Child Friendly Spaces are such spaces. They offer the children reliability and order and the opportunity to play and experience joy.
Additionally, emergency pedagogy methods stimulate their self-healing powers.
Regularity is an important factor for this. 19 local colleagues now work in the three camps. They make daily offerings for the children possible. They work everyday in the mornings and afternoons for two hours with children up to 14 years old.
The further training of these pedagogues is once again a focus of this mission. In all of the camps, there will be multi-day long continuing education courses, where the concentration will be on the age group 6 to 9 year olds. The trainings will include the topics of rhythm, salutogenesis, and intervention possibilities with children showing abnormal behaviour (i.e. fearful, restless, sad, or aggressive children). In the camp, where work just started this summer, the focus will be on the introduction to trauma pedagogy, parent advising, work-shadowing, and debriefing, as well as the teaching of new methods, and the development of new methods by the local colleagues.
A further important aspect of this mission will be a joint project with the university in Dohuk. In cooperation with the departments of psychology and special education, courses about emergency pedagogy will be offered. They consist on the one hand of a theoretical introduction to emergency pedagogy by the international aid workers during the mission. On the other hand, the local colleagues will give practical workshops, which they will prepare ahead of time with help from the mission-team.
Through the trainings in the refugee camps and the integration of emergency pedagogy subjects at the university, the aid will be made sustainable and lasting. The colleagues on location will be empowered to become active themselves. In addition to the aid for the children and adolescents which they provide, they experience their own self-efficacy. This strengthening and self-care are necessary for them to have the strength they need for working with the children, and they also counter lack of perspectives.