—A 12-year-old living in the Gaza Strip, Sarah has spent her childhood exposed to violent conflict. Making matters worse, Sarah never had the parental support a child—especially one living in a volatile environment like Gaza—needs to grow and develop.
Her father didn’t have enough money to give her food or clean clothes, and she was never enrolled in school. Instead, she spent her days wandering the streets.
The SOS Emergency Relief Program in Gaza first met Sarah after her stepmother began searching for financial aid to pay for medical care that Sarah desperately needed. SOS stepped in immediately and got Sarah to a hospital.
After Sarah was released from the hospital, she was welcomed at an SOS Interim Care Center in Gaza that specializes in children who have been separated from or are unaccompanied by their parents. She immediately began therapy sessions to address not just the trauma induced by war but the years of neglect she experienced as a child.
Sarah with two other children at the SOS Interim Care Center in Gaza. In the past year, the center has cared for more than 100 children who have been separated from or are unaccompanied by their parents.
She was also paired with a teacher who helped Sarah pass an school entrance exam. She’s now enrolled in school for the first time and is in the third grade.
“I’m so happy to be in my SOS home and family,” Sarah said recently. “I’m starting to have beautiful memories that are making me forget all that I have been through in the past.”
During the past year, more than 100 children have received care at the SOS Interim Care Center in Gaza. On average, children spend a little more than three months at the center until they can be reintegrated with their extended family.
At the SOS Interim Care Center, Sarah has an SOS Mother to care for her and other children to play with. All of them are supporting her to grow and heal from the trauma she has endured.
SOS Palestine has been running an Emergency Relief Program in Gaza since 2014, focusing on unaccompanied children, internally-displaced people and vulnerable families.