Reducing Child Trauma in Nablus
Children in Nablus have suffered from years of military occupation. Many of them are traumatised but we are helping.
Effective Techniques for the children of Nablus
Dr Ian Barron (of the University of Dundee) uses effective techniques from the Children and War Foundation of Norway. These enable children in Nablus to cope with their many traumas. Working with Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association, we have funded the training program for schools counsellors in Nablus in association with CARE (Centre for Applied Research in Education) in Ramallah.
These counsellors now have the skills and techniques to give practical and effective assistance to those children who are suffering from trauma and grief.
A child's life in Nablus
Nablus lies in the Occupied West Bank and is subject to frequent Israeli military incursions as well as often violent protests against the occupation. More than half of the population of Nablus are under 20 years old and have suffered as a result of the conflict.
Studies have found that both Palestinian and Israeli children have high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, which can leave them reliving moments of terror.
This can affect their lives in many ways, impairing family life and disrupting their schooling.
Dr Ian Barron, an Educational Psychologist at the University of Dundee, said "Children in Nablus have experienced awful horrors by a very young age.
"These include witnessing the death of a loved one, seeing mutilated bodies, family members taken away to detention, loss of friends and pets.
"They also suffer less visible losses such as schooling and identity. "All these losses can lead to flashbacks, hyper-arousal, sleeplessness, bed wetting, lack of concentration, aggression and numbing."
Effective techniques for recovery
So to help the children, Dr Barron is training schools counsellors in Nablus to use effective techniques to provide practical assistance.
He has been working with Dr Ghassan Abdullah at the Centre for Applied Research in Education (CARE) in Ramallah and the Children and War Foundation in Bergen to train counsellors in Palestine so they can help children overcome their conditions.
Training will be followed by a period of evaluation to ensure that the project is as effective as previous ones.
Dr Barron said: "DNTA’s fundraising efforts are enabling training by a live Skype link between Dundee and Nablus.
"We will be using a manual produced by the Children and War Foundation, which teaches children techniques to cope with multiple and cumulative traumatic losses.
School counsellors in Nablus will be taught recovery techniques from the manual.
These include creating a memory box that helps grieving children learn to live with their loss over time.
Other skills give children techniques to be able to sleep better, learn to feel again, to rebuild self-esteem, talk out their grief, re-claim happy thoughts and have develop effect strategies for relaxation.
The current project builds on successful field trials that have benefited children throughout Nablus, the West Bank and Gaza.
Dr Barron added: “It is our determination that in a few years every child in Nablus will have been through the trauma healing programme and that children in our twinned city can reclaim their lost childhood."
Funding the project
Dr Barron's time and other elements have been donated. Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association was our main funding partner who raised money through a lunch for Nablus and otherwise. One anonymous donor has already pledged £300, which they say is their entire winter fuel allowance.
We raised the £2,200 we need to cover the project costs and the training has been provided. We hope to hear that it has had a beneficial impact when the evaluation reports are received.
We have raised all the money needed for this training session but we hope to continue this work. Further training will be required and we also want to examine the effectiveness of the techniques for the traumas and specific circumstances experienced by the children of Nablus.