Children living under siege in the Gaza Strip have seen repeated military assaults, causing the death of loved ones and the destruction of familiar surroundings. The effects of the trauma they experience can last into adulthood, hindering their ability to cope with the challenges of living under occupation. This program will build a trauma-informed system of care in 20 new kindergartens in Gaza, which will provide a cushion of support for each suffering child.
Many international NGOs and community-based non-profits strive to address the complex needs of Gaza's residents. Some of the most challenging needs to identify and address are mental health needs of children and families traumatized by war. Ongoing blockade and periodic Israeli bombardments create uncertainty and increase the complexity of these needs, necessitating the development of programs that educate and build awareness, such as a trauma-informed system of care.
The next step is to roll the program out to 20 Gaza kindergartens. UPA has trained six mental health practitioners to build a trauma-informed system of care in Gaza. They will educate teachers and parents at these 20 schools about the effects of ongoing trauma and provide them with tools and techniques they can use to minimize these effects in themselves and their children.
The overarching objective of the program is to boost the Gaza mental health sector, build a trauma-informed system of care, and reduce the stigma around mental health issues so trauma can be addressed in a constructive way.