Children in Crisis: Gaza-Palestine
The Children in Crisis project has been ongoing in Gaza for eight years now. There are no sign that the situation has eased, on the contrary since its start occupation and siege are still suffocating the people and Gaza. Moreover, very young children had to bear the trauma of three horrific Israeli aggressions on Gaza. The last war alone left more than 526 children killed.
Little reconstruction and rehabilitation is done. Out of the 8,377 houses fully destroyed, less than 8% have been built. The situation is slightly better for the 23,597 houses partially destroyed. Till now, over 12,000 people are displaced, living in refugee shelters, schools and caravans across the Gaza Strip.
Most of the infrastructure is still damaged including thousands of small business and vast agricultural areas. There is extreme shortage in basic commodities and food; around 80 percent of Gaza families get food aid from international agencies. There is great shortage in electricity and clean water. Most of the times electricity is provided for six hours only. Israeli forces continue to target Palestinian fishermen in the sea. Eight fishermen were arrested and two fishing boats were confiscated few days ago.
With this depressing picture there is an amazing heart warming reality. The Palestinian people and the children of Gaza are not intimidated and their spirits are not subdued. The children and librarians are the driving force behind the sustainability of our two vibrant libraries.
The work of our two libraries is in progress in defiance to their horrible inhumane conditions. Creative activities are pursued and new books are arriving with difficulty. The IBBY Gaza Appeal was helpful thanks to the solidarity of our IBBY friends.
The destroyed al- Ataa library in Beit Hanoun has not been built yet. It was replaced by a smaller temporary al-Sikka library in the same area. The smallness of the temporary library demands that some activities are carried outside in the square, but not in summer with the high temperature and absence of a covered playground or outer area. The absence of electricity for long hours affects some activities and does not give enough time even to fill the batteries.
Yet, there is much to tell; the number of children and youth coming to the library is on the increase, they love the library and consider it their Safe Haven!
However, the highlight is the major recent activity of a very successful training of the librarians which targeted 20 librarians: it included in addition to our librarians, school teachers/ librarians and librarians from community based children libraries.
The training aimed at giving the librarians the skills to organize and animate the library with creative activities promoting reading and critical thinking. Making dolls and employing it in storytelling, analyzing the text and how to choose the story for reading activities, expressive arts and employing them in the library, drama and its employment in library activities and Bibliotherapy.
Some of the feedback from the two librarians:
The training was very beneficial and it contributed to make use of the time and place to help develop the ideas and skills of the children. The artistic operations and classification inside the library improved. Among these activities benefitting from material of the environment and employing it for library uses like making a pencil case and theatre dolls and book marks. The children can memorize the story by singing it. Psycho-social activities also developed, mainly on how to change the behaviour of the children.
The libraries have very good relations with the local community. There are regular meetings with the parents to discuss the participation and performance of the children. Mothers and grandmothers come to the library to borrow stories and books for themselves and their children; some mothers who cannot bring their children to the library because they live far away, come to borrow stories for their children. The two libraries have become a Beacon of the two areas in al-Shawka and Beit Hanoun!
Find out more about the Children in Crisis Appeal and visit the IBBY Palestine website for updates. Thank you for your support.
IBBY - Palestine
July 31st 2016