Nov 30, 2018

Vulnerable Children Need Your Help

Drawings by SCC children
Drawings by SCC children

The Palestinian children and youth the Spafford Children’s Center serves live in a context of political unrest and violence that may trigger trauma reactions and emotional and behavioral disorders. These drawings by children who attended SCC activities shows the frightening scenes that are part of their lives. 

Donations to the American Friends of the Spafford Children’s Center (AFSCC) through GlobalGiving at directly to SCC to provide needed services and supports for children and families. AFSCC is an all-volunteer organization; we pay no rent or salaries so your donation goes farther. 

To counter the traumatic effects of the living situation, the Spafford Children’s Center offers a holistic array of services including educational support, play therapy, group counseling, psychodrama, music, art, folk dancing, recreational and other cultural activities, as well as summer camp and outings to local sites.

Last year SCC started a program focusing on Early Childhood Development (ECD) for children aged 0 to 6 years as partner in a national ECD strategy through the Palestinian Authority. In this program the child’s development is assessed according to a defined protocol. Additionally, mothers/parents are taught the vital importance of early stimulation and building close parent-child relationships that will promote the socio-emotional, neuro-motor, and cognitive development of the child. Strong bonds during infancy and pre-school years are critically important to the child’s growth and development of resilience. Several SCC staff members are performing so well in this program that they have been chosen to supervise other trainees in their assessments of the development of children. 

The facts-on-the ground in Jerusalem and the West Bank where the Spafford Children’s Center works are constantly changing. The United States has withdrawn funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) services and schools in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Additionally, the Jerusalem mayor has said he will close UNRWA schools and clinics in the city. Just to serve the registered children in East Jerusalem would require at least 2,000 more classrooms and teachers; that need has existed for years. The UNRWA cuts have also affected the SCC clinic in Bethany. For years SCC received vaccines from UNRWA; now they are no longer available and the clinic is having to find other sources for these important childhood inoculations. 

Please donate to AFSCC at help children and families find hope for their futures.

Sep 24, 2018

Trauma and Learning Challenges Can Go Together

Student Learning at SCC
Student Learning at SCC

Trauma and Learning Challenges Can Go Together

Now is the time to join the American Friends of the Spafford Children’s Center in supporting the work of the Spafford Children’s Center in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Vulnerable children like Nadim need your help. Please contribute to AFSCC through GlobalGiving at Every dollar helps bring hope and opportunity to children like Nadim.

Nadim struggled to learn Arabic. Everything seemed beyond him — he was slow to read, he didn’t pronounce words correctly, he missed the meaning of sentences and stories. His parents were very worried not only about his lessons, but also how upset Nadim was when he came home from school. They didn’t understand why he had so few friends and came up with reasons to avoid going to school. When they brought him to the Spafford Children’s Center (SCC) they immediately felt hope. Here were caring professionals who had the knowledge and skills to help their son and to teach them how to support him.

The initial assessment conducted at SCC showed that the almost 9-year-old functioned at a 2nd grade level. He had difficulty discerning Arabic letters, was slow in reading and understanding phrases, and felt very stressed when he read aloud. Nadim was trying so hard but it was all frustrating and made him feel bad about himself. He also told the SCC counselor that he was often afraid on the way to and from school as the heavily armed soldiers sometimes searched him and his classmates. He didn’t want to burden his parents with his fears as he often heard them talking about how difficult it was to find jobs and pay the rent. Further, the assessment revealed that Nadim had difficulties writing; he held the pencil so tightly that his hands hurt and he could only write a line or two before he gave up.

The SCC team recommended registering Nadim in Arabic courses for his language development as well as counseling and occupational therapy to relieve his tension and stress and improve his fine motor skills. Drama and art activities were added to let Nadim express his joys and concerns and increase his muscle control and reduce his stress.

Nadim came to SCC for over a year. Progress was slow at first but as the counselor and therapist dealt with the trauma issues his ability to learn increased. His mother also received counseling and was helped to talk directly with her children about the challenges the family faces. Additionally, she worked with the SCC teachers to make educational toys and learned how to work with Nadim and her other children at home to advance their cognitive and emotional development.

Now Nadim is starting the 5th grade and he is on track with the other students. He has made friends, some at SCC and some in school. After the intensive SCC courses in Arabic he is now able to read and answer questions; he actually likes reading aloud and volunteers in class. His motor coordination has improved and he enjoys games and sports. He is proud that his artwork is hung with pride in his home and at SCC. His mother has done her best to help him and is very happy with his continuous progress, especially considering that he is the eldest son.

The Spafford Children’s Center strives to offer children and their families a safe place to reach their full potential through development of their individual strengths and gifts in the context of an unpredictable political environment. SCC is committed to bringing healing and hope to children and families by offering programs and services that increase health in mind, body, and spirit. 

Please remember Nadim by contributing to AFSCC through GlobalGiving at

Thank you.

Jun 27, 2018

Support Learning and Fun

Happy camper
Happy camper


The American Friends of the Spafford Children’s Center thanks you for your past support and asks you to be generous again to provide summer activities for children who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Make your donation go farther by donating on the GlobalGiving BONUS DAY, July 18th! Donations made that day will be matched at 50% as long as the matching fund lasts so donate early! Please contribute to AFSCCF through GlobalGiving at:

The Spafford Children’s Center is dedicated to providing children with the building blocks of a good education. They know that children learn in different ways—some learn best by seeing something new, others by hearing new material, and some need to experience the new content. The SCC plans for all the ways children learn and, in the summer, there is the opportunity to mix learning with dance, music, handicrafts, art projects, and cultural activities plus outdoor games and sports. SCC summer camp is a unique chance for children who live in crowded homes with multiple generations, who travel through streets with police, military personnel, and armed activists, and who have witnessed and experienced trauma to come together as children and have fun. This summer the camp will be in July and early August in both East Jerusalem and Bethany in the West Bank; over 100 children will participate.

Every year the SCC celebrates small successes that are big advancements in the life of a child. One example from the past illustrates the importance of the individualized approach SCC takes even in summer activities. An 8-year old boy with developmental and behavioral problems spent the first week of camp sitting silently in a chair. Working together, the social worker and the camp leaders devised a plan to engage him by assigning him specific tasks and responsibilities. They focused special attention on him, offering encouragement and inviting him to join the other campers.

One day, he shyly entered a sports competition. When he lost, he became angry and a tantrum followed. Program staff calmed him but saw this brief participation as a breakthrough. Staff worked closely with him to explain that losing is part of the experience and is an opportunity to learn how to do better the next time. The main thing is to join the activity and have fun.

This loss proved to be a turning point for this young camper. He began to participate in all the activities and responded positively to the encouragement of peers as well as adults. His parents happily reported that he also showed progress at home.

Help other children experience the fun and games of summer and a respite from the conflict-affected areas in which they live. Support the American Friends of the Spafford Children’s Center through GlobalGiving:

Remember to donate on Bonus Day, July 18th!

With thanks from the AFSCCF, the SCC, and all the kids!!!!

Feel the beat
Feel the beat
Thank you from the kids
Thank you from the kids
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