Celebrating MAP's project with young Palestinian refugees

In May 2018, Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe, when over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homes under threat from armed groups between 1946 and 1948, during the creation of the state of Israel.

The trauma of the Nakba is still lived by many Palestinians today. Three generations of children have been born and grown up in exile. In Lebanon, the obstacles to the health and dignity of Palestinian refugees are considerable. In the 12 Palestinian refugee camps across the country, unemployment and poverty are rife, and overcrowding and poor public sanitation threaten health. The services UNRWA can provide are limited by its chronic budgetary shortfall and the increasing needs of a marginalised refugee population beset by conflict and crisis.

A new generation of children is growing up in this environment. Life as a refugee for Palestinian children in Lebanon poses serious threats to their psychological well-being and mental health.

Children are born into families who endured the Nakba and the later traumas of the Lebanese civil war, including the massacres in Sabra and Shatila and Tel al Zaatar. Many have experienced the horrors of Syria’s ongoing conflict and further dispossession and displacement.

Health and life skills education open day in south Lebanon

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) supports the well-being and mental health of Palestinian children in Lebanon. The MAP-supported ‘Adolescents Health and Life Skills Education’ programme offers young Palestinian refugees health awareness and life-skills education. These are run by volunteer peer educators who receive training from specialists.

On Saturday 16 December, there was an open day in Burj el Shamali camp, south Lebanon, to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of the project. The theme of the day was ‘risky behaviours’, a topic widely discussed in the programme.

The day included interactive theatre, traditional Palestinian music, a video of the project’s activities throughout the year, games and competitions. It had a great turn out, attended by 220 people, including young refugees involved in the project and their parents.

Everyone was very happy with the open day’s activities and the discussions that took place following the play. A mother said that the play, which showed a young boy who got involved in high-risk activities after giving in to negative peer pressure, made her more aware of the importance of the role of parents in understanding and supporting their children. “I know more about the reasons why children get involved in such activities and how I can better communicate with my son,” she explained. Another mother said that she learned new information and that every year she eagerly awaits the event.

The project coordinator remarked how happy she was with peer educators’ enthusiasm and the effort they put into preparing for and organising the day. “I felt that the peer educators want the project’s key messages to reach and help every young person.”

Please donate today to help MAP to continue supporting young Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

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